Jim Risch earned his reputation as a popular “no-nonsense, get the job done leader” as Idaho’s Governor where he cut property taxes by 20%, bringing property tax relief to Idaho taxpayer. His foresight also provided $100 million in a rainy day fund for public schools that was desperately needed during the economic downturn. Working with local governments, tribes, conservation groups and recreation groups, he designed a plan for Idaho’s Roadless areas that allowed Idahoans to manage their own lands. Idaho’s Roadless Plan has withstood several court challenges from extreme environmental groups and has become a model for collaborative rule- making in the United States. He has consistently worked for state’s rights and to keep decision making local.
As Idaho’s Lieutenant Governor, he was an advocate for smart economic development. His success earned selection to the Senate small business committee where he now serves as ranking member and a leader on business issues. He received the NFIB award for Guardian of Small Business.
He began his career in public service after graduating from law school in the prosecuting attorney’s office. He was elected to the position of Ada County Prosecutor at the age of 27 and was soon elected by all the prosecuting attorneys in the state to serve as their president. As the president he worked with the Idaho legislature against early parole for violent criminals and protection of Idaho families.
After serving two terms as prosecutor he was elected to the Idaho Senate where he was elected to 11 terms. His leadership and pragmatic approach to problem solving earned quick election to the top leadership positions of Majority leader and President Pro Tempore, serving in these top 2 positions for 19 of the 22 years he served in the legislature.
Jim was born the 2nd of five children to a working class family, where hard work and perseverance was stressed. His was father a lineman for the telephone company his mom worked at the school cafeteria. He worked his way through college cleaning carpets, serving food, and harvesting peas. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Forestry from the University of Idaho and a Juris Doctor degree from the college of law. He served on Law review and the college of law advisor board and taught criminal law at Boise State University.
Although he enjoyed public service he never lost his passion for plants, and soils and soon after he was married he and his wife Vicki started a farm and ranch south of Boise where they still live today. His work in public service was long, over 35 years, but always part time. He started a successful law firm, Risch, Goss and Insinger, and two small businesses. He worked in town on weekdays and on the farm evenings and weekends.
Jim and his wife Vicki have been married for 45 years. They raised 3 sons and now have 7 grandchildren. Their commitment to Idaho and their work together and for their community earned them the honor of appointment to Idaho’s Healthy Marriage Ambassadors.