Gov. Little Announces Idaho’s Fiscal 2022 State Budget, Prioritizes Tax Relief and More
Earlier this week, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan, a comprehensive proposal that will impact the state’s budget into 2022. The plan features more than $450 million in tax relief and strategic investments in critical infrastructure projects such as education, transportation, public safety and more thanks to the state’s 2021 surplus.
In his “State of the State and Budget Address” on Monday, Governor Little remarked on Idaho’s position of having a state surplus by stating, “Together, before COVID-19, the [Idaho] Legislature and I were already preparing for an inevitable slowdown of Idaho’s economy.
“We limited government spending, used conservative revenue forecasting, and maintained healthy rainy-day balances.
“We took a lot of heat from some who could not wrap their heads around this basic conservative principle: the time to prepare for the bad times is in the good times. Turns out we were right.
“While other states face potential budget cuts of 20- to 40-% and more,” continued Little, “Idaho is in the enviable position of having a record budget surplus.
“The sound decisions of Idaho leaders in the past have gotten us to where we are today.”
Little went on further to elaborate on key highlights from his “Building Idaho’s Future” plan, starting with his prioritization of tax relief for Idahoan taxpayers.
“I am proposing more than $450 million in tax relief,” noted Little. “This would be among the single largest tax cuts in Idaho history!”
According to Little’s office, the multi-million dollar tax relief initiative would be leveraged from the state’s tax relief fund in the form of $295 million in one-time tax relief and $160 million in ongoing, permanent tax cuts for state taxpayers and businesses.
Besides tax relief, Idaho’s state budget will allocate cash payment grants for small businesses, totaling $15 million from federal funds.
One of the more crucial areas in the governor’s plan for reinvesting is infrastructure and transportation projects.
According to a summary of the budget plan, the breakdown of allocations for Idaho’s infrastructure is as follows:
- $120 million for state and local highway infrastructure projects
- $2 million to assist with rail infrastructure and safety improvement
- $4 million in funding for community airport improvements
In addition to the one-time $126 million for the state’s infrastructure, an additional $80 million will be allocated to ongoing projects.
“One of the basic roles of government is to ensure a safe, connected system of roads and highways. We cannot ignore a growing problem that steals Idahoans’ time and threatens their safety and our economic prosperity,” stated Little.
“We cannot delay any longer in executing a sustainable plan for transportation funding into the future.
“We cannot postpone securing a long-term funding source. We must address the transportation needs for this generation and the next.
“We must act now,” Little said.
Aside from infrastructure, Idaho’s 2022 fiscal budget also prioritizes investments made for other major initiatives for the state, including those in education, broadband access, agriculture, and government transparency.
Citing the need to close the achievement gap, Little announced that his plan recommends investments to enhance literacy for students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, the plan recommends investments in higher education and career technical education. Summarily, education investments will total approximately $30 million.
Tied closely with education investments are those that will be made to advance Idaho’s broadband access, which will seek to aid students and parents struggling to meet the demand of remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commenting on the need to expand broadband access, Little stated, “Simply put, broadband access is central to commerce, economic growth, and education. We’ve made major progress… and my plan continues that momentum.”
Approximately $35 million will go toward expanding internet connectivity for underserved areas throughout the state.
In an effort to protect the state’s agriculture, referred to by Little as the state’s “economic future”, the governor recommended in his plan that $60 million would be reserved for long-term water projects and safe water systems for Idahoan communities. The allocated $60 million would not only help the state’s major water infrastructure projects, but the funds would support drinking water and wastewater projects in rural communities.
Little also acknowledged the need for government transparency and simplicity in citizen participation in state government.
“In Idaho, we believe government must be responsive to the people it serves. To ease citizen participation in their state government, I’m recommending the creation of a new one-stop shop for Idahoans to access public meeting information for any state entity.
“State Controller Brandon Woolf – my partner in government transparency – will administer the new online resource for civic engagement.
“We will continue to stand up for good government,” Little concluded.
Full details of Governor Little’s recommendations for Idaho’s 2022 fiscal budget can be found in a detailed summary online.