- Harrison Berry
- Left to right: Sen. Michelle Stennett and Rep. John Rusche.
Idaho Democratic lawmakers gathered in the Capitol's fourth floor lounge Feb. 4 to outline their platform for the 2016 legislative session.
The platform, as in years past, focuses on wages, education and accountability. Both House and Senate Democrats said they will rely on broad community support of their platform to help gain traction with the supermajority on the other side of the aisle.
"Oftentimes when people agree, things happen," said House Minority Leader John Rusche (D-Lewiston). "If we can show the leadership we have agreement, then we can start to look forward on other items."
The platform, titled "Creating Opportunity: A Balanced Plan for Idaho's Future," encompasses Democratic policy agendas in the areas of education, economic development, government accountability, quality of life, security for senior citizens and protections for Idahoans' voting rights. Specific planks in the party platform include phasing in a higher minimum wage over three years to $9.75, halting tuition hikes at Idaho public colleges and universities, strengthening environmental protections and access to mental health services, and creating an inspector general's office.
Already this year, legislation designed to raise the minimum wage failed to get a hearing in the Senate, though minority leadership has indicated it will try to push similar legislation in the House.
"There is strong pushback on a lot of the issues we're passionate about," said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum).