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Posts tagged: Brad Little

Little, Chmelik see differing roles for lieutenant governor

In the “Idaho Debates” tonight on Idaho Public TV, Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik outlined a very different role for Idaho’s lieutenant governor that he said he wants to play if he succeeds in defeating GOP Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the May 20 primary election.

“I would like to use the position of lieutenant governor the same way I’ve used the county commissioner position,” he said – to travel around the state and nation urging support for transfer of federal public lands to states. “I believe you have a lot more pull as lieutenant governor than you do as a county commissioner,” Chmelik declared in the live debate, which was broadcast statewide.

Little, a rancher and four-term state senator who’s been the state’s lieutenant governor since 2009, said if re-elected, he’ll continue to focus on economic development. “We absolutely have to build the economy,” he said. “It’s being the facilitator, whether it’s with government or with business to foster those jobs and foster that growth, because we need that.” You can read my full story here at

Little: Idahoans are angry over debt, gridlock, partisan bickering

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little says he’s hearing a lot of anger from Idahoans across the state. “For the last five or six months, I’ve been all over Idaho, I’ve been to nearly every county, and I’ll tell you, they’re mad – they’re mad about the federal government,” he told the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho conference today. “Particularly in the rural areas, there’s quite a bit of hostility out there.” Issues making Idahoans mad include the federal debt, gridlock and partisan bickering, he said.

Of the new budget deal in Congress, he said, “It’s a little bit of a relief to hear that we’re not going to go off one more fiscal cliff. … At least they got something done, right, wrong or indifferent.”

Idahoans are a little more amenable to their state and local governments, Little said, but, “We have to work a little bit harder because of that animosity that exists out there.”

Little was the luncheon keynote speaker at the conference today. He praised the governor’s education stakeholders task force recommendations as “a laudable road map,” and said it speaks well “that there is bipartisan support for it, and it is very broad-based.” Little said in his view, if Idaho focuses on a strong workforce, robust infrastructure, a regulatory environment conducive to growth and a “fair and competitive tax system with a strong balance sheet,” the state will succeed. “We’ll be the preferred place for prosperity for this generation and generations to come.”

Lt. Gov. Little launches re-election bid, quelling talk of run for governor…

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little launched his re-election campaign this morning, quelling – at least for now – speculation that Gov. Butch Otter would step aside and allow his hand-picked running mate a shot at the top job. “I’m here to support Brad,” Otter declared as he joined more than 100 of Little’s supporters at City Park in Emmett, Little’s home town, for a combination pancake breakfast and campaign kickoff.  Asked if he thinks Little is a future governor, Otter shot back, “He should be.”

But the 71-year-old GOP governor said he’s set on seeking a third term. “I think we’ve been a great team,” he said. “I think we’ll continue to be a great team for the next four years.” Otter said if he’s re-elected, “I have no reason to believe I will not complete four years.” He added, “I’m healthy as a horse.”

Little, 59, a prominent rancher and former four-term state senator, was appointed lieutenant governor by Otter in 2009, and elected to a full term in the part-time post in 2010. Otter’s given him a more prominent role than past lieutenant governors – including Otter himself, who was Idaho’s lieutenant governor for 14 years; you can read my full story here at

Trade mission to Latin America reports sales, leads for Idaho businesses

Idaho's delegation has returned from a trade mission to Mexico and Brazil and reports “tremendous interest and opportunities in both countries for Idaho products and services,” says Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who led the mission. Seventeen Idaho businesses or organizations participated, from Mountain States Oilseeds, which reported that it secured agreements for five more semi-truck loads of mustard seed to be exported to Mexico, to Ground Force Manufacturing, which reported a $1 million sale and additional likely sales over the next two years of up to $12 million from contacts made on the trade mission. Click below for the state's full announcement; Idaho's next trade mission will be to China in April 2012.

As execution approaches, Otter’s in Maui, LIttle’s in charge

As last-minute pleas for clemency continued to pour into Idaho's state Capitol this week in advance of the state's first execution since 1994, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wasn't there – he was at a posh resort in Maui to speak about presidential politics, leaving Lt. Gov. Brad Little in charge.
Little has been Idaho's acting governor from Sunday, when Otter left for Hawaii, until Thursday, when Otter is planning to return to Boise, leaving the California Independent Voter Project's “Business and Leader Exchange” a day early to make it back for the Friday execution. During that time, condemned killer Paul Ezra Rhoades had two bids for a stay of execution rejected by the U.S. District Court in Boise and filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; state attorneys filed their response to that appeal today.

Where was Otter, who could commute the sentence? As the guest of the California group, he and First Lady Lori Otter flew to Hawaii for the group's conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, a beachfront spread with three swimming pools, a 140-foot water slide and an array of luxury amenities.

Little, who says he's “really uncomfortable with capital punishment, just because of the very nature of it,” but has come to support it after much “soul searching,” says as acting governor, he wouldn't reverse Otter's stand, which has been to deny clemency for Rhoades. Little said he hasn't even read the letters and emails that continued to come in to the Capitol regarding the execution this week, leaving them instead for Otter on his return. “I guess I could go ask for 'em if I wanted to, but I have chosen not to do that,” Little said. He said he agrees with Otter's stance in this case. “I don't think anybody's arguing that Paul Ezra Rhoades is anywhere close to innocent.”  You can read my full story here at

Little on upcoming session: ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’

Lt. Gov. Brad Little said his luncheon address to the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho today is on “the good, the bad and the ugly” - it’s about the outlook for the upcoming legislative session. “Additional tough choices are going to be required,” Little told the group. “We’ve reduced spending by just a little under 19 percent.” Idaho’s state retirement system is strong, it’s not raised taxes like other states, and the state has handled shortfalls thus far while maintaining a balanced budget, he said. But, he said, “We know when the economy recovers it’s going to take 18 months before those dollars start dropping down into the bottom line, so we are going to have tough choices to make this session.”

Little said public schools are “always our highest priority,” but the state will have to “continue to try to protect quality … but at the same time lower the cost as best we can.” In higher education, there’ll have to be continued collaboration with business, he said. The biggest funding problems, though, may be in Health & Welfare and Medicaid, Little said. “That’s where the money is.”

The federal government funds roughly 80 percent of Health and Welfare in Idaho, and a quarter of public education, Little said. But he said the feds aren’t likely to send Idaho more money. “The federal government is broke, and state and local governments will likely at some point be responsible for accepting some of the functions that they’re currently providing,” Little said, calling that a “cloud that hangs over every state.” He warned, “We do need to prepare for the impending federal defunding which I think is going to happen, because if the federal government doesn’t come to the conclusion the people that own their bonds will.”

Little on ‘friendship mission’ to Basque country

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little wraps up a “friendship mission” to the Basque country tomorrow, which included a meeting with Basque President Patxi Lopez on Thursday. Little reported that the Basque country pledged to work with Idaho on three initiatives: Creation of a Basque economic development office in Boise; launching a joint Idaho/Basque Renewable Energy Task Force, to meet twice a year; and an agreement to explore additional exchanges in culture and education. “We have 100 years or more of history with the Basque people as a fundamental part of the Idaho fabric,” Little said. “In the global economy, we need to foster strong relationships abroad, to access markets and grow our hometown businesses. This link with the Basques is a natural one, and we found a very receptive audience this week.”

Little, who went on the trip with Idaho businessmen Mark Rivers and Ed Miller, wasn’t traveling at taxpayer expense, his office reported; the trip was entirely funded by contributions from businesses.

Little launches re-election campaign

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little launched his re-election campaign today under a fine drizzle in Capitol Park in Boise; now, he’s off to Idaho Falls and Coeur d’Alene for additional announcements. “Government should only be there to protect and create opportunity for individuals and businesses, not stand in their way,” Little declared. Gov. Butch Otter and other elected officials joined Little for his announcement; Otter said people who think he’s proposing budget cuts “without a heart” are wrong “since Brad took office as lieutenant governor, sitting at my side.” Otter, who appointed Little to the office, praised Little’s analyses and compassion as the state faces tough cuts, and urged his re-election. “It was up to me the first time - now it’s up to you,” he said.

Little said the state faces difficult decisions with budget cuts; he said he supports Otter’s move to cut costs now - including cuts in health benefits for part-time state employees - and hope to increase state workers’ pay when times improve. “The timing’s terrible, but we’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to do between now and next February the timing’s going to be terrible on,” Little said. “We’re looking at some other ones that are going to have serious ramifications.”

Little schedules election announcement

Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little has scheduled his “official announcement tour” to announce his candidacy for re-election as lieutenant governor, but when I looked at the tour announcement, I only saw “Brad Little for Idaho.” It named his campaign co-chairs, who are the state’s last four lieutenant governors: Gov. Butch Otter, U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, Hon. Jack Riggs, and Hon. Mark Ricks. And it noted announcements planned for Oct. 30 in Boise, Idaho Falls, and Coeur d’Alene. But it never said just what office Little would be announcing for. So I called campaign spokesman Jason Lehosit with the question: What’s Little running for? “That would be lieutenant governor,” he replied. Gov. Butch Otter, who’s strongly hinted that he, too, is seeking re-election, has yet to schedule his own formal announcement.

Hunger awareness month kicks off amid lean times in Idaho

October is Hunger Awareness Month, and the state marked the occasion this morning when Lt. Gov. Brad Little joined a wide array of religious leaders, anti-hunger activists and children from the Boise Urban Garden School to make it official. The children presented a basket of locally grown produce from farmer’s markets and community gardens around the state, and Little said he’s seen first-hand in his hometown of Emmett the success of interfaith efforts to get fresh, local produce to the needy. Idaho is ranked as the 24th hungriest state, Little noted, and it has the 10th highest percentage of food-insecure children under age 5. “It is important at this point in time, particularly in Idaho where we have so much agricultural products, that there are people who are hungry,” Little said, calling on Idahoans to “be aware of the necessity to take care of our own.”

The event came as a recent survey by the Northwest Area Foundation found that in the past year, 55 percent of Idahoans said they’ve cut down on the amount they’ve spent on food; 32 percent had problems paying for basic necessities like their mortgage, rent or heat; 33 percent had trouble affording medical care; 26 percent said someone in their household has lost a job; and 38 percent said someone in their household has had their work hours cut. “This poll confirms what we are seeing in Idaho,” said Mary Chant, executive director of the Community Action Partnership Association of Idaho. “We’re seeing a whole new group of people who’ve never experienced financial difficulties of this magnitude. It’s the former high-earning, two-income families who’ve lost a job and have a heavy debt load. It’s putting a huge stress on our services, because we’re still working with all the low-income families we’ve typically helped in the past.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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