Senate GOP Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who's running against fellow Republican Gov. Butch Otter in the primary, released a statement on both video and audio this afternoon, reacting to the governor's State of the State message. Fulcher said the governor's speech to a joint session of the Legislature today "offers more evidence that he is out of touch with Idaho’s problems," and decried Otter's "tepid leadership." Said Fulcher, "He’s offering more of the same mediocre policies that won’t advance our friends and neighbors on a path toward prosperity and opportunity." Click below for Fulcher's full statement.
STATEMENT FROM SEN. RUSS FULCHER
Hello. I am Russ Fulcher, state senator from Meridian. But more importantly, I’m a father, a husband, a businessman. I grew up on a family farm and was educated in Idaho schools and universities. My adult life has been spent raising a family, and working in the private sector. My career has allowed me to travel the world promoting and growing Idaho's economy and high tech industry. In all my experience, I have come to know that Idaho truly is a special place.
But our beloved state is in trouble; our people are hurting. Unemployment in some Idaho counties is up to 14%, with youth unemployment even higher. Some 220,000 Idahoans are on Food Stamps, and 1 in 4 of our fellow citizens are on public assistance. Those who can find work, struggle to make ends meet in low-wage jobs. Businesses are hurting because Idaho has one of the most burdensome tax climates in the West.
Unfortunately, the governor’s State of the State address offers more evidence that he is out of touch with Idaho’s problems. He’s offering more of the same mediocre policies that won’t advance our friends and neighbors on a path toward prosperity and opportunity. I say these things without malice. Governor Otter and I have been on the same side on many issues. But after almost 40 years in elected office, I believe the governor’s “status quo” approach does not empower PEOPLE. His “status quo” approach does not provide Idahoans with the opportunities they need to advance.
I believe we are at a crossroads. We can choose a path of individual empowerment, economic opportunity and advancement, or one in which the results are more of the same--mediocrity, personal dis-incentive, and an increasing dependency on government. I believe the direction we are going takes us down the path of the latter. Idaho needs innovative leadership and new solutions. Not tepid leadership that does not dare to tackle the challenges before us.
What if Idaho led the way?
What if Idaho stood out as a champion of freedom and free markets? Imagine if our state had the least burdensome tax structure in the country.
What if our state provided unfettered opportunities for home-grown entrepreneurship and a tax and regulatory climate that would attract high-wage jobs?
What if Idaho were aggressive in developing our energy resources? What if Idaho were the easiest place in the world to start a business and stay in business?
Imagine our state with the best schools, where students are given the chance to be creative. Where teachers and parents are empowered to innovate and educate, where students have the greatest opportunities after high school to continue their education or enter the workforce.
Imagine our state not only fighting Obamacare but providing real patient-centered solutions that result in better access to care, more choice and lower costs.
That’s what I want for our state, for my family and yours.
But that’s not what the governor is offering in his State of the State address. The governor offers a different course; more tinkering with the tax code and using the power of the government to pick winners and losers. More support for Obamacare and the policies that have already cost 105,000 Idahoans their insurance plans through cancellation. More implementation of a top-down education agenda that hinders local control and does nothing to improve education.
Traveling around Idaho, fellow citizens told me they were discouraged and disheartened with the status quo. They told me they don’t want “more of the same.” They said they don’t want another tax payer dime or man hour spent on a state run, federal health exchange through Obamacare. They want a full review of the “common core” education initiative. I listened. I share their concerns, I am committed to facing these issues head-on. I want to EMPOWER Idahoans to work with me to ADVANCE Idaho's economy through major changes in education and
I can see our destiny: it is a brighter future for Idaho—a future of freedom and prosperity. I will work hard to earn your trust and to listen to your concerns. I hope that you will support my effort to get us on the right track. Through creativity, innovation, hard work, and faith in God, Idaho can become the “sparkling gem” of the nation. Together, we can do this. Empowering you, and advancing Idaho in the process.
Thank you and God Bless Idaho.