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Coming Up:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 19
I will preside over a meeting of the State Board of Examiners, 8:55 a.m., followed immediately by a meeting of the State Land Board, 9 a.m., third floor, Boise City Hall, City Council Chambers, Boise.
 
I will speak at the Western Governors' Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative conference, 1:45 p.m., Riverside Hotel, Garden City.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21
First Lady Lori Otter and I visit Idaho booths and host an Idaho reception at the annual shooting, hunting and outdoor recreation products "SHOT Show," Sands Expo Center, 201 Sands Ave., Las Vegas.

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State of the State 2016 


On Monday, January 11th, I gave my ninth State of the State and Budget Address before a joint session of the Idaho Legislature. Education and developing a workforce "talent pipeline" are my top priorities for the Legislature's 2016 session education. That's why I'm requesting a 7.9-percent increase in spending for public schools, a 9.6-percent increase in funding for community colleges, and an 8.8-percent increase for our four-year college and universities. Our prudent budgeting, responsibly conservative fiscal management and business friendly environment have Idaho doing very well financially. But I remain committed to growing our economy faster than our government while constantly focusing on efficiency and government's proper role in our lives. So my focus for the coming year is on making data-driven strategic investments in the State's core missions.
Here are some of the recommendations from my speech:
  • Funding for the second year of the five-year implementation of a "career ladder" plan to attract and retain certificated instructional employees
  • Funding for additional teacher professional development
  • Funding for increased classroom technology in line with our Education Task Force's five-year plan
  • Funding for continued STEM Action Center grants, projects and program administration
  • A "tuition lock" initiative to cap tuition costs for qualified students over a four-year period at any of Idaho's public colleges or universities
  • Start-up funding if local residents decide to establish a full-featured community college in eastern Idaho.
  • Merit-based raises for State employees
  • Funding for a third regional behavioral health crisis center - this time in southern Idaho
After my State of the State Address, I went to the Lincoln Auditorium in the Capitol to answer questions from the news media. Some of that give-and-take can be heard in the audio clips below:


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AP Legislative Preview
 
On Thursday, January 7th, I spent an hour talking with the news media about my hopes and expectations for the Legislature's 2016 session at the annual Associated Press Legislative Preview. I answered questions from reporters about important issues coming up at the Statehouse this year. I started by breaking some news by announcing that Megan Ronk will be the new director at the Idaho Department of Commerce. I also announced that I'll be asking the Legislature to consider an Idaho option for helping uninsured adults living in poverty get the preventive care and treatment of chronic illness they need in communities throughout the state. The Idaho Primary Care Access Program or "PCAP" is an all-Idaho initiative to connect some 78,000 Idahoans with community healthcare providers who will coordinate their primary and preventive services. It was a great start to the discussion I look forward to having with lawmakers on this issue that's so critical to many of our citizens.

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SPC Donald Young Receives the Idaho Cross
 
On Tuesday, December 29th
, I presented Idaho National Guard Specialist Donald Young with the Idaho Cross in recognition of his bravery in attempting to save a fellow Idahoan - Laddie McMaster. The Idaho Cross is given to military men and women who assist civilians while they are in a civilian setting. SPC Young discovered McMaster's vehicle engulfed in flames. His prompt actions put out the fire and moved McMaster as far away from the flames as possible. SPC Young then stayed with McMaster, rendering aid and helping emergency responders. Sadly, Mr. McMaster's burns were too severe and he passed away a few days later. I'm incredibly proud of SPC Young and was honored to present him with this award. His actions reflected great credit upon himself, the Idaho National Guard, and our great state. Once again, on behalf of all Idahoans, thank you SPC Donald Young.
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STEM Matters Kickoff

This month the Idaho STEM Action Center launched its new Web site - stem.idaho.gov. It promises to be an incredible asset to students, teachers and businesses as they connect with one another, share projects and discover grant opportunities to advance Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education in Idaho schools. Along with the new Web site, the STEM Action Center plans a STEM Matters! campaign kickoff on January 29th, during Idaho Education Week at the Legislature. Join educators, students, libraries, companies and other organizations from throughout Idaho in celebrating STEM! The event will include hands-on experiments and such activities as computer coding with students from Boise's Garfield Elementary, touring the STEMBusUSA, and much more. Thank you to everyone at the STEM Action Center for the great work you do for the people of Idaho!

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Spotlight Agency: Idaho State Board of Education - Next Steps Idaho
 
In his State of the State Address on January 11th, Governor Otter identified the NextSteps.Idaho.gov Website as an excellent resource for college and career planning.  
Launched in the fall by the State Board of Education, NextSteps.Idaho.gov is a Website designed to assist schools and counselors as they work with students to explore and prepare for postsecondary college and career options. The site provides information for counselors, students and families on every step of the journey, ranging from the first semester of eighth grade to the final semester of high school.
Planning checklists, questions to research and ask a counselor during appointments, and grade-by-grade timelines are available, as is information on topics ranging from financial aid to career exploration. The site content was developed after extensive research with Idaho students about the challenges they see and the information they need as they begin to think about life after high school.
The site can be viewed at NextSteps.Idaho.gov.
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Appointments

Director, Dept. of Commerce
Megan Ronk - Meridian

Aquaculture

Lynn Babington - Hagerman

Blind & Visually Impaired

Britt Raubenheimer - Sandpoint

Early Childhood Council
Holly Whitworth - Idaho Falls
July Fodor - Moscow 

EMS Physicians

James Alter - Boise

Hispanic Affairs

Lucy Juarez - Boise

Horse Board

Harry "Tosch" Keshian - Eagle

Juvenile Corrections

Barry Black - Dalton Gardens

LINE 2.0

John Revier - Meridian

Public Works Contractors License
Charles Graves -Boise
James Roletto - Hayden 

Serve Idaho

Camille McCashland - Boise
Bryan Wewers - Boise

Sexual Offender Management Board

Sheriff Matt Thomas - Weiser 

Shorthand Reporters

Michael Peacock - Kellogg

Workforce Development
Johnathon Baker - Pocatello
Angelique Pruitt - Meridian
B.J. Swanson - Troy
Aaron White - Meridian
John Young - Hayden