The House and Senate minority caucuses held a press conference this morning to give their response to the governor's State of the State message and budget. “In the face of enormous challenges and widespread economic hardship, the governor and many legislators have no plans to do anything significant,” declared Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello. “In fact, rather than being proactive, they've simply strengthened their resolve to dismantle the very public structures that help create prosperity.”
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said, “Here is where we may differ from the governor. We believe that maintaining our public structures is essential to protecting the Idaho way of life for our families and our businesses. It is not 'tyranny' to feed hungry children, care for the disabled or educate workers.” He added, “It is precisely because families are struggling that we need to makes sure our public systems have the resources to respond. We do this not simply by asking 'What can we afford?' but also asking, 'What must we do to protect our future?'”
Rusche acknowledged that the Democrats' numbers are small in both houses. “But we do have a job as the opposition, and that's to point out consequences,” he said. “What are the consequences of the deconstruction of the public structures that communities rely on, that businesses rely on here in Idaho? … Somebody has to talk about the consequences of actions and that is our role.”
Rusche said Democrats' priorities are jobs, providing a high-quality education to children, protecting the state's most vulnerable citizens and “ensuring that our state government is responsible, ethical, and accountable.” Malepeai said Democrats stand ready to work for solutions in collaboration with the majority. “I think we can come up with some of those solutions. I think a collaborative effort is what we're looking for,” he said.