I am happy to share with you that Idaho is on the brink of incredible opportunity and I look forward to helping lead the way this legislative session and having our great state seize all opportunities.
Conservative values have been the governing philosophy of Idaho because of the people who support conservatives in all elective offices.
Eight years ago when the bottom fell out of the economy and state revenues were down almost a third, we did what Idahoans do. We rolled up our sleeves and made the necessary reductions to our budget and avoided raising taxes at the worst possible time. And, despite suffering one of the worst downturns, Idaho is on the right path.
In 2014 Idaho was ranked #14 among the 50 states in terms of state job creation, but by 2015 we had risen to #7. By 2016, Idaho was the #1 state in job creation and among the top states in the US in wage growth and we continue to keep the size of state government in check.
We understand the importance of small, limited government. We must be aware that not every community is feeling the benefits from a growing economy with more and better jobs and we need to continue to work to fix that.
We need to diversify our economy, building upon our strengths and leveraging our assets. In southwestern Idaho, companies like Woodgrain Millworks are not only expanding in Nampa and Fruitland, but the company is investing in a new state-of-the-art sawmill in Emmett, creating new and better jobs.
In northern Idaho, in the City of Sandpoint, there has been incredible resiliency. When Sandpoint native Bill Watt was ready to take his fledgling technology company out of California, he knew to come to Idaho where we have a strong work ethic and are business friendly. Today, Bill’s company, Encoder, provides hundreds of great careers.
In eastern Idaho the City of Rexburg has been named "Millennial City USA". With 81% of the town's population under 30-years-old, residents are staying in Rexburg or moving there because of its proximity to the Eastern Idaho Innovation Corridor, including the Idaho National Laboratory, Melaleuca and Progrexion. Economic development leaders see the opportunities of having the young and educated workforce and they have started a multi-phase research effort to retain and grow this coveted population.
It was roughly 15 years ago when I met Clearwater founders Mike Boren and Doug Bates. At the time they had just five employees. Today, Clearwater is a cutting edge software company that provides world-class financial software with 500 employees.
Our future is bright, but we must continue to work to ensure that this is the best place in the world to do business. The most important ingredient in increasing the growth in our state and raising incomes is a quality education system.
No matter what part of the state I am visiting, entrepreneurs and businesses, both large and small, talk about the challenges of finding trained employees.
Whether our young people are about to graduate or have left the state, we need to create every incentive for them to stay here or return home.
Idaho’s destiny must be decided by Idahoans, not Washington D.C. bureaucrats.
• Together we will grow our economy and create better jobs!
• Together we will educate our children and grandchildren so they can enjoy those good jobs and raise their families in Idaho!
• Together we will protect our Idaho values and enhance our quality of life!
I look forward to this legislative session and working with my Republican colleagues to ensure we keep conservative values in our great state.