Idahoans, including myself, appreciate Gov. Butch Otter’s 12 years of longstanding service to the State of Idaho.

His efforts are truly to be commended. As we look to the future of our great state though – it’s time we say goodbye to the status quo and career politician model – and bring a fresh approach, new ideas and real-world experience to the governor’s office.   

Early last year, I released my Blueprint for An Even Better Idaho and outlined how my real world experience as a businessman and ER doctor could be applied to help solve some of the longstanding challenges facing our great state. Longstanding challenges Idaho politicians have talked about for years but have not been able to solve. Longstanding challenges affecting families and businesses throughout Idaho.  Longstanding challenges that can and must be solved.  

One example is healthcare, where premiums and costs in Idaho have skyrocketed for years. Having spent over 18 years as an ER doctor, I can tell you that both our healthcare premiums and healthcare costs can be reduced. I know the diagnosis and how to treat our state’s ailing healthcare system. The executive order signed by Gov. Otter this week was aimed at increasing flexibility in the insurance industry and rolling back mandates.  Catching almost every insurer, however, by surprise without transparency and input is simply not the way I will govern. Rolling back mandates is part of my plan but this must be done with a shared vision and clarity. And it is only the start of the changes we need to reduce costs and premiums in Idaho.   

For instance, my Medicaid reform plan would introduce much needed personal accountability, reduce healthcare costs and simultaneously save Idahoan’s hard-earned taxpayer dollars.  My plan to create a statewide transparency tool to give power back to patients will be critical to curbing costs.  And my plan to improve our high-risk pool by providing a true medical home for Idaho’s sickest patients will save millions of taxpayer dollars and even further reduce healthcare premiums. Again, having spent a career in the healthcare industry I know for a fact that healthcare premiums in Idaho can be lowered without federal government involvement.   

Additionally, for years Idaho’s education system has lagged behind that of other states – failing to prepare Idaho kids for Idaho jobs. And I have a plan for how we can do things better. Idaho must first take steps to clearly define student achievement including reading proficiency by third grade, math proficiency by eighth grade, high school graduation and laser focus on career readiness. Because without clear goals, we cannot measure success. We must also create line of sight between Idaho kids and Idaho jobs by better engaging industry with schools – and we must establish clear leadership ensuring the coordination and effectiveness between the State Board of Education and Department of Education.  We also must reduce the number of state mandates on our local school districts while also increasing school choice options in Idaho.   

In the area of small business and improving Idaho’s business economy – my decades of private sector leadership are the basis of my plan for how we can do things better. Our state’s economy rests on the backs of small business and we must improve the environment for them to thrive and create good-paying jobs.  We must eliminate burdensome regulations and create a culture of excellence, where the departments of state government serve our people and help our businesses thrive. We must also strengthen an entrepreneurship culture by promoting and assisting the interactions between research, technology, industries and capital – while developing the vision and plans for the critical infrastructure needed to protect current industry and unleash the modern economy in Idaho.  

With this also comes the need for tax reform – because ultimately tax policy drives business and jobs. And again, I have a plan for how we can do things better. We begin by spending our tax dollars more effectively by immediately identifying $100 million of wasteful state government spending cuts in my first 100 days in office – and focusing those resources on Idaho’s top priorities. Next, we must reform Idaho’s tax code to make it more fair, flat and simple for Idaho families and businesses. And we must also set a hard cap on State government spending -- tied directly to personal income – which will truly limit government spending growth to never out pace economic growth.   

Additionally, early in my campaign, I announced a bold new Term Limits & Ethics Reform Plan that would limit executive statewide elected officials to two, four-year terms. I announced this plan because I believe it will help ensure Idaho has the future we all deserve. When professional politicians spend too much time in office – they lose touch with the realities of what Idaho families and businesses face – and as a result, the needs of special interests are put in front of the needs of the taxpayer.  

Again, I thank the Otter-Little Administration for their dedicated, long-standing service to our great state.  But it’s time to strategically direct Idaho’s future.  It’s time for new leadership and bold vision in our Governor’s office.  It’s time Idahoan’s embolden our state with a fresh approach and new ideas. It’s time we come together and “say no to the status quo” – and work together to build an even better Idaho.