TWIN FALLS, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little answered questions in Twin Falls about his 2022 State of the State and budget address Friday.
He discussed his plans for a number of issues including early literacy programs, housing in the Magic Valley, and funding behavioral health resources.
Little proposed the largest investment in Idaho education ever, of over $1.1 billion over the next five years.
Literacy programs will look different from school to school, Little said. Some may implement all-day kindergarten while others could use funds to reduce class sizes so students can get more individual help from teachers.
“Nobody knows better than the teachers, the principals, and the superintendents so we’re giving them the resources,” said Little.
The Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI) measures reading efficiency. Little plans to use IRI scores as a baseline in measuring the effectiveness of how literacy programs are implemented in schools.
The education proposal also includes $1,000 bonuses for teachers, in addition to more competitive healthcare offerings.
Little also addressed plans to increase capacity in cities experiencing rapid growth, such as Twin Falls, by offering workforce housing.
“There’s a lot of money that’s available to Twin Falls County, to the city of Twin Falls, to Kimberly, Filer, fill in the blank, that they are going to be able to address sewer and water capacity to where good developers can come in and put in some more houses,” said Little.
The proposal includes using $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to finance the construction of workforce housing.
The goal is to help developers build housing for middle-income Idahoans.
Another big-ticket proposal would provide $50 million to improve access to behavioral health resources across the state.
“When we do these things and behavioral health particularly early on and identify these kids, it makes schools safer and better, it helps hospitals, it helps law-enforcement and it helps corrections."
Little says Idaho voters shouldn’t be surprised if we see him on the ballot in May.