Gov. Little, during his State of the State message this morning, recognized state troopers who last summer went to Arizona to work with anti-drug smuggling operations, and touted a new “Operation Esto Perpetua” that he said will bring together law enforcement and communities, including efforts to curb fentanyl smuggling from Mexico into Idaho.

“Idaho is a state that openly values its police officers,” Little said, “While others seek to ‘defund the police,’ Idaho defends the police. Idaho truly is a state that ‘backs the blue.’”

The governor’s proposed budget for next year the Idaho State Police next year includes a 13% increase in state general funds, or $60 million. That includes 13 new state troopers in the Capitol Protective Services Unit, at a cost of $2.8 million; a new air support operation to support sheriffs with search and rescue operations, $6.8 million; a new ISP district facility in Idaho Falls, $11.2 million; a new POST Academy dorm, $10 million; and $29 million for a new forensics lab. He's also proposing two additional ISP investigators for a new program to combat fentanyl smuggling, at $250,000.

The governor’s budget also includes funding for a $12 million community re-entry center in Pocatello, adding 20 probation, parole and re-entry specialists at the Idaho Department of Correction; and $112 million for a new 848-bed minimum custody women’s prison that his administration says will allow the state to eliminate its current out-of-state placements of state inmates. Big boosts also are planned for behavioral health and substance abuse treatment and prevention.

The governor also called for all those present who served in the military to stand and be recognized; they did so, and all, including those in the Legislature, staff and audience, received an extended ovation. And he recognized Krista Gneiting,  "the brave teacher who confronted and disarmeda 12-year-old girl at school last May in Rigby. Krista calmly took the gun away from a little girl in crisis, and then held her in her arms until police arrived."

"Krista, please stand so we can recognize you for protecting everyone in the building that day and for your compassion with that sixth-grade girl," the governor said, and Gneiting rose in the House gallery, drawing another extended ovation.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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