Listen to KID Newsradio’s full interview with Lieutenant Governor Brad Little.
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — Idaho Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidate Brad Little is on the campaign trail as candidates across the state prepare for the primary election on May 15.
Despite an increase in negative campaigning across the board, Little said he feels optimistic about his bid for governor. Amidst ads characterizing Little as being a career politician, he said leadership has always been a part of his life and doesn’t mean he’s not familiar with the people around him or the industries important to Idaho.
“I won’t deny that ever since, literally I got out of school, I’ve been selected to lead whether it was in the livestock industry and agriculture, in the business community, in education and philanthropy, but all at the same time I was still ranching and farming,” Little told KID Newsradio. “I’ve just been blessed to be selected by my peers to do that and this is exactly the same thing…I got into the Senate and then Lieutenant Governor, but all the time I was in business and farming and ranching.”
Little isn’t the only one feeling the heat of negative campaigning. A recent pro-Little ad accused Ahlquist of wanting to raise taxes on “everything from farm equipment to haircuts,” a statement Ahlquist has vehemently denied. But, Little said the claim is true.
“The inquiry, and I could go back and look at it, was, you know, where are you going to come up with this money, and [he] says we’re going to look at all the exemptions; healthcare services, farm machinery,” Little said, “I lived this as a senator, tax policy and you know, I’ve got a policy that any new ones, that we’re going to put a limitation on any new tax exemptions. But, people have planned, have made business investments predicated on the existing rules. Now, some of them I don’t like, I didn’t like them, quite a few of them I voted against. But, you got to get things done and just to say categorically that you’re going to remove all the exemptions, insinuates you’re going to raise taxes on somebody.”
Fixing healthcare is another issue Little said he hopes voters will think about when they go to the voting booth on May 15. After co-signing an executive order with Governor Butch Otter, Little said he wants Idaho to continue to show the nation what states can do to combat the impact of the Affordable Care Act.
“Our solution is to go back to what we had before…with some modifications,” Little said. “To basically offer non-Obamacare plans that are much more affordable, 30 to 60 percent and that’s still in flux. We’re negotiating as we speak this week with the federal bureaucracy. The White House is all in. The President told us in an executive order, he wanted to do that. The Presidents’ staff has told us, has told Senator Risch, Senator Crapo, they want to do this and so right now we’re negotiating a pathway out from under this unworkable Obamacare.”
Little also said he hopes to be able to change how Idaho works with it’s public lands. In recent years, the amount of state owned land has shrunk, but Little said the reason was more prudent than anything. Idaho, Little said, negotiated to give several thousands acres of unusable or inaccessible land to the federal government in exchange for several thousand acres of usable land.
“We do have less lands then we had originally,” Little said. “But, if you look at the map of what was there was originally, what there is now, a lot of it was we have a lot of state lands [that] were isolated by big blocks of federal lands…and the state prudently said, ‘Look, you take this 10,000 acres that we don’t have access to, we can’t log it, we can’t graze it, we can’t recreate on it, we don’t have access to it and we’ll take this 6,000 acres of ground that we can use because we have a constitutional obligation to generate income for schools and other parts of it. That’s part of the reason that we have fewer acres than we did originally. I think any prudent person would have done that and that’s governed by the land board.”
As to how Idaho would manage those lands, Little said the state is working on creating a partnership with the federal government to manage some of that land.
“The federal government itself acknowledged that their lack of management, particularly on these timber grounds has created an atmosphere to where we have these big fires,” Little said. “Today, Governor Otter and Speaker Bedke are meeting [with] Secretary Purdue and Secretary Zinke on this very issue about what can we do in a partnership with the federal government to better manage those lands…the intent there is for us to do those forest health projects that the federal government has almost readily said we can’t do, we are not going sell at lands, the state’s not going to take them over. But, everybody agrees we got have better management and once again Idaho’s [in the] leadership position on this.”
The primary election for Idaho will be May 15.