Whenever Idaho Gov. Brad Little makes a decision, he said he makes sure it supports his top priority of keeping Idaho’s young adults in the Gem State.

“Everything we do in my administration is based on that one filter,” Little said. “How do we create the best possible opportunity for Idaho kids to stay here (and) for those that left, to come back?”

The Republican governor took a brief break from the legislative session and returned to his alma mater Monday to address more than 100 University of Idaho fraternity and sorority students during a presentation titled, “From Greek to Governor,” inside the International Ballroom at the Bruce M. Pitman Center.

“I fully understand that a lot of students are going to leave Idaho,” Little said. “But I want them to leave Idaho thinking that they can come back someday, that their kids can also be Idaho Vandals.”

Little graduated from the UI in 1977, and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity.

“You gotta remember, when I came in 1972, it was right at the end of the Vietnam war,” Little said. “This campus was a pretty wild place.”

He said he figured the legislative session would be complete when his presentation at the university was scheduled and that he could give a full report on his first session as governor.

“We’re not quite there yet,” Little said. “But we will be in a day or two, or three, or four or five. We’ll see.”

He said it has been a good session and he was happy to see some of the items he was committed to were met, such as higher starting salaries for teachers.

One student, who said he is pursuing an education degree, said he is excited about the increased teacher pay, but asked the governor what other areas of education he wants to see improved.

Little said what is more important than teacher pay is that Idaho’s educators are honored.

“They need to be fairly compensated and we still got a long way to go there,” he said. “But what they absolutely have to be, is they have to be respected for the profession they’re from. And to me, that’s the most important thing that we can do.”

After the presentation, Little briefly discussed new citizen initiative bills introduced Monday.

The House continued to take aim at Idaho’s citizen initiative process by introducing four bills that basically replicate legislation Little vetoed Friday.

Little said he had not yet seen the new bills.

He said there were a variety of reasons for Friday’s veto, the main one being he did not think either controversial bill would withstand a legal challenge.

“Our legal analysis said that it was flawed and would definitely violate not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Idaho Constitution,” he said.

Little briefly touched on a Medicaid expansion “sideboards” bill that’s on its way to his desk following a 19-16 vote in the Senate on Friday.

He said he is “not a huge fan” of the proposed legislation, but wouldn’t indicate whether he would sign off on it or not.

Before he makes that decision, he said, he will meet with the director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare today.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email togcabeza@dnews.com.

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