Idaho Governor Brad Little says he’s not surprised that people in eastern and central Oregon counties are interested in joining their neighbor to the east, but he doubts it would happen soon.
Last week, voters in five eastern and central Oregon counties approved ballot measures that express support for becoming part of the Gem State. They join two others that approved similar measures last fall.
Little told reporters in Post Falls on Friday that his state shares the same values as the rural states east of the Cascades. But he says the process of assimilating Oregon counties is a complicated one.
“The local area has to endorse it. The state legislature in Oregon has to endorse it. The state legislature in Idaho has to endorse it. Probably the biggest hurdle is the U.S. Congress has to vote on it," he said.
The stars may align on some of that, but Little says he doesn’t anticipate it would happen anytime soon.
“One of the solutions to that problem is thriving rural communities with good broadband, good roads, good other systems to where people don’t have to live in downtown Spokane. They could live in Rathdrum or Athol or St. Maries and still do a lot of the work they’re doing," he said.
Little says the upcoming redistricting process in his state and Oregon may continue to accentuate the divide between rural and urban areas and add momentum to the Greater Idaho movement.