This week’s question: What are some of the biggest challenges Idaho faces over the next 10 years?

Greg Strimple -  President GS Strategy Group. Creating an education system that prepares our children to be successful in today's technology-oriented workplace. Only then will Idaho have both low unemployment and higher wage jobs. 

Brian Whitlock - President & CEO Idaho Hospital Association. During my 30 years as an observer of and participant in strategic planning efforts revolving around public policy, we always focused our vision on what we wanted Idaho to look like in 2020.

Now, as we look beyond 2020 at some of our future challenges, we should remember those strategic planning efforts envisioned a healthy, well-educated workforce and an unparalleled quality of life in Idaho making our state the best place to live, work and raise a family. 

Education will continue to be a challenge facing policymakers.  Our teaching and training efforts in a K-Career system need to be nimble enough to adapt to the ever-changing needs of a technology-driven economy.

Idaho will continue to have an agricultural focus, but we will need to continue to be good stewards of the lifeblood of our economy – water.  A significant challenge over the next 10 years will be ensuring we have both the quantity and quality of water to meet our needs.

Healthcare – both how we access and pay for it – will change dramatically as we move from a “fee for service” focused on volume into a value-based reimbursement system.   Consumers will have more personal responsibility for their health.  Telehealth and other technologies will completely transform the delivery of care in both rural and urban settings.

We will need to continue to invest in Infrastructure.  The 10-year GARVEE program is now complete and we still have unmet maintenance and construction needs throughout the state.  Trying to chip away at those needs year-by-year won’t produce the infrastructure needed to continue to grow our economy and attract new, high-paying jobs to Idaho.  It is time to develop the strategy for the next 10 years.

Jesse Ronnow - Senior Vice President Zions Bank. Here are my big ones:

--Workforce Development / Education

--Infrastructure

--Tax Code 

Phil McGrane - Chief Deputy, Ada County Clerk’s Office. Disengagement: We have a slow, but steady decline in civic participation here in Idaho. It’s easiest to track in terms of voter participation, but we can see it in most all civic areas of our lives as well. There was a time when it was certain that a majority of Idahoans over 18 would vote, but in the next 10 years the opposite may be true, if we don’t do something about it. At the rate we’re sliding, by 2026 less than 30% of Idahoans old enough to vote will show up for the governor’s election that year. Likewise, two years later, less than half of eligible Idahoans will vote for president. In order to address this disheartening trend we’re going to have to innovate in the ways we vote, invest in civics education, and find leaders who can inspire us to reengage.

In 1897, Michigan Governor Hazen Pingree articulated our challenge best, “Voter apathy was, and will, remain the greatest threat to democracy.” 

20160705 Experts Panel