Democrats agree with the Governor’s vision but doubt likelihood.

By Nishant Mohan

With no action taken last year to provide healthcare to the Medicaid gap, expand the Idaho Human Rights Act to LGBT citizens, or increase public education spending well above pre-recession levels, Democrats objected to parts of Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter’s State of the State Address.

The speech and minority party’s response echoed last year’s.

“We agree that the governor has set a strategic vision by shooting for 60 percent post-high school educational attainment, but we doubt the governor can influence the majority party to accomplish his vision,” said House Minority Leader Matt Erpelding.

Idaho Democrats share Governor Otter’s priority on education, but have their own emphasis on early childhood education. Erpelding said his party supports a proposal he called a “gateway to early childhood education” put forth by Idaho Business for Education to prepare 4-year-olds for kindergarten.

Though in the overwhelming minority, Erpelding said he thinks the party will secure hearings for some of the bills it will propose.

“In invasive species and cybersecurity, there seems to be a real will,” said Michelle Stennett, Senate Minority Leader.

Democrats also responded to Otter’s denouncement of the Affordable Care Act and leaving out any mention of Add the Words legislation despite asking the legislature last year for a solution.

“Our plan is to update the human rights act,” said Erpelding. “Our plan is to introduce them, have the conversations, and if the majority party doesn’t want to do that, to ask them for their solutions.”

This year, Democrats are working with two fewer seats than last year’s legislature and a new Republican president and Congress at the national level.

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