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Idaho governor eyes special session to deal with inflation

Brad Little
Posted at 4:10 PM, Aug 16, 2022

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little on Tuesday confirmed that he's considering calling a special session of the Legislature, saying rumors of the effort are “relatively right.”

“We're working on that,” he said in brief comments to The Associated Press. “As I've always said, for the special session, we've got to have a pretty good agreement before we call one."

A statement from the governor’s office concerning a potential special session said Little wants to help Idaho residents “grappling with crushing inflation,” currently at about 8.5%.

A potential special session would appear to use the state’s recently projected $2 billion surplus to counteract inflation. That could mean lawmakers attempting to pass some type of tax rebate during the special session that could take effect this year.

"There are a lot of hurdles to get over,” Little said.

He declined to say definitively whether he's been in contact with Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke or Senate President Pro-Tem Chuck Winder, the leaders of the two chambers that are each controlled by Republican super-majorities.

Winder, in a text message to the AP, declined to comment. Bedke, through a spokesman, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Special sessions bringing in the state's 105 part-time lawmakers and needed support staff cost thousands of dollars a day, and Little and lawmakers would likely be hesitant to call one if they didn't have an agreement ahead of time. Lawmakers are scheduled to meet in regular session starting in January. Regular sessions typically last three or four months.

In a news release on Friday, Little commented on the state's projected $2 billion surplus:

“Here's what Idahoans need to know: the Legislature and I are committed to more education investments and tax relief on top of the historic steps we've taken to support schools and tax cuts.”

It's not clear if education spending could be included in a special session.

Idaho voters in November will consider a ballot initiative to boost education funding by raising taxes on corporations and individuals making $250,000 or more annually.

Backers of the Quality Education Initiative say Idaho schools are badly underfunded, and the initiative would raise more than $300 million for them.

Little in February signed into law the biggest tax cut in the state’s history — a combined $600 million that included a one-time $350 million in rebates and $250 million in permanent income tax reductions going forward for people and businesses. That’s on top of tax cuts in 2021, which combined with the tax cuts enacted earlier this year reach nearly $1 billion.

Also earlier this year, Little signed into law a K-12 education funding increase of $300 million, a 12.5% increase over the previous year and the largest increase in state history.