Sunday, March 12, 2023

This week, we honored the life and legacy of former Governor Phil Batt, who passed away peacefully at his home on March 4th.

Governor Batt was the epitome of a public servant, having served as Governor, Lt. Governor, Senator, and Representative. His legacy is distinguished by his unrelenting human rights leadership, determined fiscal conservatism, and enduring love of Idaho.

On Thursday, I joined Governor Batt's family, loved ones, former and current elected officials, and Idahoans honoring Phil at his lie-in-state ceremony in the Idaho State Capitol.

Below is an excerpt of my remarks:

"It is my distinct privilege to be a part of this time-honored tradition - the lie-in-state ceremony - for a man beloved by Idahoans of all political persuasions, ages, and walks of life - especially our most vulnerable.

I was privileged to be here with Governor Batt for two previous joyous events.

1. Governor Batt's inauguration on a snowy January day in 1996.

2. Phil and Francee's wedding eight years ago, an event that we all know, extended Phil's life.

Governor Batt's longstanding public service - as a citizen legislator, lieutenant governor, governor, and many other roles he played in public life over the years - is marked by his many achievements. All well documented and shared over the past few days, since his passing last Saturday - fittingly on Idaho Day.

As many have pointed out, Phil Batt was principled and compassionate.

Phil got things done. They were often boring, but important things like:

Volunteering to fix a failing Health and Welfare computer system for Governor Andrus

Doing the heavy lifting to fix the long-term solvency of our state retirement fund, and

Beating the U.S. Department of Energy to protect Idaho water and still sustain the long-term success of the Idaho National Laboratory

First Lady Teresa and I had just been married in 1978 when she accompanied Phil and Jackie on a statewide campaign bus tour. That was the beginning of our over 40-year friendship and Phil's mentorship of me.

Then, when I became Idaho's 33rd Governor four years ago, each governor provided me their advice on the night of our inaugural dinner.

When asked to offer advice to this new governor, Phil Batt said in his typical short and direct fashion: "Listen to the women."

Hasn't that always been the key to success in life?

Over the years, I witnessed a man who struck that hard-to-achieve balance between compromise and hardline principles - always with the goal of improving the state he loved deeply.

Yes, he was a kind man. But also spirited and passionate when he wanted you to know where he stood.

I always looked up to Phil Batt.

Short in stature, he was truly giant in character.

I wish all future leaders could have witnessed this man in action.

Our state and country's political landscape always has - and always will - ebb and flow.

But regardless of the issues at hand, Governor Batt demonstrated HOW you do business doesn't have to change all that much.


Governor Batt's life and public service show us we ALWAYS have an opportunity to make lasting improvements for future generations of Idahoans.

God bless you, Phil Batt. Rest in peace, my friend and mentor.

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