BOISE — Gov. Brad Little used the State of the State speech to announce a new plan, which he says will put more money back into the pockets of hardworking Idahoans and make strategic investments to propel the state further ahead in prosperity — the plan he calls "Building Idaho's Future."
During his State of the State and budget address, Little emphasized how important Idaho's economy is for the State.
Little said one of the reasons why Idaho's economy is "catapulting" ahead of other states suffering from COVID-19 challenges is because of regulatory rollbacks planned before and during the pandemic.
The Legislature and Little were already preparing for an inevitable slowdown of the Gem State's economy. Government spending was limited, and healthy "rainy day" balances were maintained.
"While other states face potential budget cuts of 20- to 40-percent and more, 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. Let's keep our State on this strong economic trajectory together. Now is the time to make meaningful investments," Little said.
Little is proposing more than $450 million in tax cuts — among one of the single largest of such reductions in Idaho history.
"To get there, I'm proposing $295 million in one-time tax relief and $160 million in permanent tax cuts to boost Idahoans' prosperity while keeping our tax rates competitive and our business climate vibrant," Little said.
Little's plan also shores up millions more and overall support for small business, which he says are the backbone of our way of life.
He plans to reinvest these savings into another part of his "Building Idaho's Future" plan, which includes focusing on transportation and infrastructure projects with long-lasting value.
"We won't be able to keep our children and grandchildren in Idaho if we cannot alleviate traffic congestion. My plan invests $126 million in state and local highway infrastructure projects and makes targeted investments in safe routes to schools, rail infrastructure, and community airports," Little said.
Little is also proposing $80 million in new ongoing transportation funding. He said a dependable system is fundamental to commerce.
"One of the basic government roles 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 economic prosperity. We must act now," Little said.
He wants to keep the economy driving forward, and this is one step to doing so. Education, which Little said is his top priority, is also included in the plan.