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Idaho’s recovery shapes debate

BOISE – In a polite but pointed debate, Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little and his Democratic challenger, Bert Marley, outlined sharply differing views of how Idaho is faring as it works to recover from a big economic downturn.

“Idaho is a leader in the recovery from the recession,” said Little, a Republican. “Prudent and conservative leadership has placed Idaho on the right track,” he said in the only debate between the two. The meeting was broadcast statewide Thursday night on Idaho Public Television as part of the “Idaho Debates,” co-sponsored by the Idaho Press Club and the League of Women Voters of Idaho.

Marley, who like Little is a former state lawmaker and rancher, also taught school for 23 years.

“After 20 years of one-party rule, our state government has shifted their priorities away from the values that Idaho was built on,” Marley said. “Instead of building a better Idaho, their failed policy has put us on a race to the bottom.”

Little served four terms in the state Senate before being appointed lieutenant governor by Gov. Butch Otter in 2009; he won a full term in 2010 and is now seeking another.

Marley, 66, a fifth-generation Idahoan from McCammon, served two terms in the state House and three in the Senate. He ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent of schools in 2006, losing to Jana Jones in the Democratic primary; he served as director of public policy for the Idaho Education Association before retiring.

During the debate, Little said “Idaho is one of the fastest-growing states right now. Our unemployment rate is half what it was at the height of the recession here, and Idaho is on the right path.”

Marley said more should have been done.

“When we went into the recession, rather than cutting our taxes I would have taken some of that money and put it into infrastructure and created jobs, and started the process of bringing us out of the recovery a little quicker,” he said.

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