There are almost 26,000 State employees in Idaho. For a population of about 1.5 million, that pencils out to roughly one in every 58 of our citizens who work for the State of Idaho. That one in 58 contributes to everything from the schools where our children and grandchildren learn to the patrols that help keep our highways safe, from our clean air and water to the outdoor recreation opportunities that so many of us enjoy.
To mark Public Employee Recognition Week, my message today is that every one of those State employees deserves respect and appreciation for the demanding and often underappreciated work they do for the people we all serve -- the citizens of Idaho.
I spent some time this week visiting with hundreds of State employees who work for the Tax Commission and the Department of Finance. What I found were hard-working, dedicated professionals who take great and justified pride in what they do, and who understand that their ability to do their jobs depends on Idaho taxpayers. I found everyday Idahoans who share with the people they serve the values and principles as well as the challenges and rewards of life in Idaho.
Many State agencies and local offices are taking a little time this week to acknowledge the contributions of our friends, neighbors and relatives making careers in public service -- often sacrificing greater financial rewards in the private sector to pursue work in which they believe, and which benefits us all. I encourage every Idahoan to join me in thanking the public employees in their lives, and in considering for a moment how life would be here in Idaho without their efforts.
I can't express strongly enough how much I admire, respect and appreciate our State employees for all they do, and for the innate sense of civic virtue that they embody. They often are the first to step forward to promote charities, community improvement projects and other selfless acts.
We often find ourselves thinking and talking about our State government primarily in terms of conflicts, tight budgets and what we lack. It's my hope that Public Employee Recognition Week will provide us all an opportunity to refocus our thoughts and conversations on the value of what we share, how we work together, collaborate, and find our way through the tough times -- together.