BOISE – During his State of the State and Budget Address on Monday, Gov. Brad Little reflected on the events in Washington, D.C., last week and the historic year before detailing his plan to put more money back in the pockets of Idahoans while making strategic investments to propel Idaho even further ahead in prosperity.
Idaho’s responsible approach to governing, strong economy, and quick action during the pandemic have resulted in a record (amount) surplus in the state budget, while other states face budget cuts of 20-40% and more.
“Together, we laid the groundwork before the pandemic to rebound quickly during tough times, proving once again that conservative principles of governing bring opportunity for our citizens during the highs and the lows,” Little said.
Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” plan provides tax relief and makes strategic investments where they count. The components of the plan include:
• TAX RELIEF: Little proposes more than $450 million in tax relief, among the single largest tax cuts in Idaho history. His plan includes $295 million in one-time tax relief. He is also proposing $160 million in permanent tax cuts to boost Idahoans’ prosperity while keep our tax rates competitive and our business climate vibrant.
• TRANSPORTATION: Little proposes $126 million in state and local highway infrastructure projects to help preserve one of our citizens’ most precious commodities: their time. He proposes $80 million in new ongoing transportation funding because he said “we cannot ignore a growing problem that steals Idahoans’ time and threatens their safety and our economic prosperity. We must act now.”
• EDUCATION: Little proposes investments in literacy to close achievement gaps that widened for some students during the pandemic. His plan invests in higher education and career technical education training programs across Idaho.
• LAW ENFORCEMENT: Little’s plan invests in the items necessary to support frontline personnel at the Idaho State Police and training for our local frontline police officers. “While other states seek to defund the police, I am proud to say that Idaho DEFENDS the police. Idaho ‘backs the blue.’”
• BROADBAND: Following $50 million broadband infrastructure investments last year, Little’s plan continues the momentum with $35 million for new investments in internet connectivity for underserved areas to improve commerce, economic growth, and education.
• WATER AND AGRICULTURE: Little’s plan supports major water infrastructure projects and needed projects for agriculture and outdoor recreation.
• SMALL BUSINESS: Little proposes more support for small businesses in Idaho, on top of the $300 million in direct support for small businesses last year.
• CRIMINAL JUSTICE INVESTMENTS AND CAPITAL CONSTRUCTION: Governor Little’s plan keeps us on a path to safer communities and taxpayer savings by making strategic investments in overdue needs in our criminal justice system, to break the expensive revolving door of repeat offenders. Other funds will catch up on the backlog of deferred maintenance in state buildings and address other needs.
Beyond his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan, Little is proposing a “no frills” budget for Fiscal Year 2022 that leaves a prudent surplus, bolsters rainy-day funds, and reflects his continued priority on education, including our valuable teachers. His budget fully implements the historic $250 million investment in the career ladder.
To ease citizen participation in government and boost confidence in state government, Governor Little is also proposing the establishment of a new online one stop shop for Idahoans to access public meeting information for any state entity. State Controller Brandon Woolf would administer the new online resource for civic engagement.
The ongoing growth in the state budget – just 3.8% – is among the most conservative in years.
“Our commitment to conservative budgeting and quick action during the pandemic are the reasons
Idaho is excelling while other states’ economies and state budgets are pummeled,” Little said.