Idaho governor touts accomplishments of first 100 days

FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2019 photo, then-Idaho Gov.-elect Brad Little answers a reporter's question at the State Capitol building in Boise, Idaho. Idaho has approved Medicaid expansion for an estimated 90,000 low-income residents. Republican Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 signed into law a bill expanding Medicaid to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. The compromise bill that emerged from the House and Senate seeks a federal waiver for a work requirement that would kick people off Medicaid for failing to meet those requirements. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger, File)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gov. Brad Little marked his 100th day in office Wednesday by touting his accomplishments.

“Fast and rewarding,” the Republican said at a press conference. “It doesn’t seem like it’s been 100 days because we’ve been quite busy.”

He said top accomplishments include increasing annual starting teacher pay to $40,000, doubling funding for literacy programs and increasing scholarships for students preparing for college.

“The Opportunity Scholarship was a big win for the students of Idaho,” he said.

He also signed Medicaid expansion legislation that includes work requirements for able-bodied recipients and other hurdles, though the budget he submitted at the start of the legislative session paid for the expansion as approved by voters with no sideboards. Some of the requirements added by lawmakers require waivers from the federal government.

“I’m optimistic we can work through all those issues,” he said. “I’m committed to expanding Medicaid.”

He also cited signing an executive order requiring state agencies to eliminate or scale back two rules for every new one — the Red Tape Reduction Act.

“You can’t do that forever, but given the enthusiastic response that I’m hearing from the agencies and from the Legislature, we’re excited about what’s going to take place in that area,” he said.

Another executive order — the Licensing Freedom Act — makes occupational licenses easier to obtain.

There was no mention of his veto of legislation making it tougher to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot. But he did note efforts to enhance cybersecurity to protect citizens’ information.

Little served as lieutenant governor the last 10 years under former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who retired after 12 years as governor. Little is generally considered something of a policy wonk capable of diving deep into an array of issues.

He mostly stuck to big themes on Wednesday. He noted his overarching goal to make Idaho the kind of place where children who grow up in the state want to remain.

“The cumulative data on these whiteboards up here,” he said, referring to large signs listing accomplishments, “is going to get that done.”

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