Monday, January 9, 2012

Citizens Voice Their Visions for 2012 Legislative Session

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 11:19 AM

In anticipation of today's State of the State address, Citydesk has been listening to engaged citizens who are offering their own hopes for Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's vision and the 2012 edition of the Idaho Legislature.

Earl Mitchell, a 28-year-old computer programmer who recently moved back to Boise, is looking for a conservative fiscal environment balanced by a progressive social culture.

"Idaho's government could stand to be more socially liberal," said Mitchell. "But in the long term, it is much more economically important that the state machinery remain fiscally sound."

Lea Bowman, a social worker who provides hospice care, is looking for greater compassion from lawmakers.

"I find it astonishing that we think we can leave people stranded with challenges like severe mental illness, substance abuse issues, overwhelming disability, or just the ever-more-common story of being laid off, plus cut education and services for at-risk families," said Bowman. "And expect crime rates to stay low, maintenance of a healthy workforce, connected communities, strong families and a good environment for new business."

Scott Deseelhorst, who owns Snake River Winery with his wife Susan, is hoping for an economic climate that is more friendly to smaller businesses.

"It seems like it's not an easy environment to not only start a business but to sustain a business," said Deseelhorst. "[Otter] wants to help ag specifically as far as business, but what about the little guys?"

Jackie Nefzger, who has run Mackay Wilderness Trips with her partner since 1991, wants lawmakers to take greater care in supporting Idaho's natural resources.

"This state is dying and we need tourism," said Nefzger. "The Frank Church Wilderness brings millions [of dollars] to the state."

Warren Bussey, who currently manages a floral delivery service, also knows a thing or two about one of Idaho's largest cost centers: the Department of Correction. Bussey has spent time behind bars at an IDOC prison.

"Lack of education is why our prisons are so overcrowded," said Bussey. "Right now, we spend millions on extended sentences, when many of these people would benefit from counseling and other treatments that would prepare them for earlier release."

We'll be hearing from these citizens and others as we solicit their thoughts on today's State of the State address.

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