Historic tax relief, key investments, conservative budget highlight Gov. Little’s achievements this legislative session
Boise, ID (STL.News) Governor Brad Little delivered on all the objectives he laid out in his 2021 State of the State and Budget address – including giving taxpayers back their hard-earned money through historic tax relief, successful passage of his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan for strategic investments, and securing the most conservative budget in years.
“Despite a lot of noise, distractions, and of course the unfortunate, unprecedented duration of this year’s legislative session, we were able to act on the issues that matter most in the day-to-day lives of the people we serve,” Governor Little said. “Years of fiscally conservative leadership and prompt action during the pandemic positioned our state with a record budget surplus while other states face cuts. We’ve proven once again that conservative principles bring opportunity for citizens during the highs and the lows. We’re looking forward, and the future is bright.”
Governor Little kicked off statewide stops this week to highlight the achievements, which include:
Historic Tax Relief
Idahoans will benefit from the single largest income tax cut in history – $445 million for Idaho families and businesses, including $163 million in permanent, ongoing income tax cuts to boost Idahoans’ prosperity while keeping our tax rates competitive and business climate vibrant, and $8 million in ongoing property tax cuts offset by the General Fund.
“Curbing government spending and returning taxpayer dollars should be the perpetual mission of public servants,” Governor Little said.
“No Frills” Budget – Most Conservative in Years
Governor Little’s budget bolsters state rainy day funds by $263 million, augmenting the state’s preparedness for economic uncertainty. It provides Idaho the largest reserve fund balance in state history. The ongoing growth in the state budget 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. Let’s continue to live within our means and make investments where they count,” Governor Little said.
Governor Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” plan made strategic investments where they count, to continue our state’s strong economic trajectory.
- Historic transportation investments without raising taxes or fees – Governor Little’s sustainable transportation funding solution saves Idahoans’ time, keeps us safe on the road, and boosts commerce by directing $80 million in ongoing funding, allowing the state to bond for up to $1.6 billion for transportation infrastructure projects statewide. It is the single largest state investment in transportation infrastructure in Idaho history. The solution was achieved without raising Idahoans’ taxes or fees. To help advance bid-ready transportation projects across Idaho, Governor Little and the Idaho Legislature also directed $126 million in one-time funds this year from the record budget surplus.
- Education and Workforce Development – In total, funding for K-12 grows 12-percent this year and 29.7-percent next year. Governor Little secured $20 million for literacy to address students’ learning disruptions during the pandemic, and additional investments will go toward career technical education, community colleges, and colleges and universities to prepare our workforce. Teachers will see increased paychecks starting in July with Governor Little’s budget that fully implements the new career ladder build-out.
- Law enforcement – Idaho is demonstrating we “back the blue” and defend the police by investing close to $1 million to support frontline personnel at Idaho State Police. Governor Little also introduced $1,000 bonuses for Idaho State Police officers.
- Broadband – $45 million will go toward new investments in internet connectivity for underserved areas to improve commerce, economic growth, and education, on top of close to $50 million made available for broadband investments last year.
- Agriculture and water – Agriculture – and our economic future – hinge on safe and dependable water sources. Governor Little’s plan appropriated $60 million in strategic investments in long-term water projects and safe water systems for our communities.
- Healthy Idaho – To increase the number of medical professionals in our state and improve healthcare access to support healthy Idahoans, Governor Little recommended and the Legislature approved $1 million ongoing for nursing programs at Idaho’s colleges as well as $900,000 in funding to address the physician shortage across Idaho.
- Healthy Lands – Governor Little is combatting the divisive, defeatist “climate fire” rhetoric by investing in the active management of our lands and adding resources for fire suppression, Good Neighbor Authority, and Shared Stewardship.
- Economic Development and Capital Construction – Governor Little’s plans boost the economy in rural communities by improving state parks and outdoor recreation opportunities. Close to $90 million will go toward needed projects and repairs in public buildings.
- Enhancing transparency – Government must be responsive to the people it serves. To ease citizen participation in their state government, a new one stop shop will enable Idahoans to access public meeting information for any state entity. State Controller Brandon Woolf will administer the new online resource for civic engagement.