Investing in education of all kinds – pre-K, K-12, Career Technical Programs (CTE), workforce training, community colleges and four-year universities – is vital to Idaho’s future. Last year, Idaho left 7,000 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs unfilled worth $450 million in unclaimed wages. Those numbers are only projected to get worse. A generation of bad leadership has plunged Idaho to the bottom on education and rocketed us to the top in minimum wage jobs. If we don’t fix our education system, our children and those jobs are going to leave Idaho for better opportunities.
As a 21-year veteran of the Boise School Board, I know how valuable education is to our children’s future. I see it every time I read to elementary school students around the district. Their young minds are always so eager to learn and imagine. We need to spread that enthusiasm to every school in Idaho – taking the best ideas from all corners of the state and implementing them statewide. We must provide our kids and communities with the tools they need to thrive and prosper.
Thousands of Idaho’s men, women, children and veterans wake up every day wondering what they’re going to do if they get sick or seriously injured. They’re our trusted friends and neighbors and they have nowhere to turn for healthcare. I was biking in the Boise Foothills a couple years back when I had my heart attack. As luck would have it, a doctor happened to be on the scene to help me out. While I was lucky enough to have access to the best medical care available, not every Idahoan has the same opportunity. That has to change.
As governor, I would push to expand Medicaid to cover the thousands of people who go without. We are sending our federal tax dollars out of state to fund expansion in nearly three dozen other states – it’s time we brought those dollars home to communities here in Idaho. In the meantime, I will personally continue to carry a clipboard and gather signatures to get Medicaid Expansion on the ballot in November.
I will also work to expand the number of doctors we have in Idaho by investing in medical residency programs. Today, Idaho is near the bottom in the number of doctors per person. Medical and education leaders recently proposed a 10-year strategic plan to add 1,500 additional doctors to the state which would generate $1.3 billion in economic activity – all for just a $5 million initial investment. The current governor recommended only $1 million in funding, and that’s nowhere near enough to get us where we need to be.
As usual, Butch Otter and the politicians in charge in the state legislature continue to play games with Idahoans’ healthcare while thousands of our friends and neighbors suffer. It’s time for a change.
As a lifetime sportsman and outdoors enthusiast I know how important Idaho’s millions of acres of public lands and waters are for recreation like hiking, camping, and fishing. I fish the Salmon River in the summer, hunt turkey in the spring and fall, and I’ve climbed Mt. Borah with friends and family more times than I can remember, not to mention Castle Peak and the Bighorn Crags in the Frank Church Wilderness. Idaho’s outdoor lifestyle is not just part of our heritage, it’s part of our lives.
I pledge to lead the fight against any efforts to sell off our public lands to special interests and out-of-state billionaires who would lock us out of our most pristine areas. I will work to my last breath to preserve public access now and for future generations. We must maintain the thing that bonds our families, strengthens our health and makes us Idahoans.
I truly believe we need to crack down on employers who knowingly pay women less than men. Right now, Idaho women earn 76-cents for every dollar their male counterparts make for the same work. That’s one of the ten worst rates in the nation (just above Mississippi and Alabama). I will bring the fight to the Capitol by working to pass meaningful legislation to make sure Idaho women receive equal pay for equal work.