BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little gave the State of the State and budget address as the state's legislative session begins this week.
Little addressed the state's education, pandemic response and state tax relief plans. In the opening of the address, Little denounced the "dark events" that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6.
"While we should be celebrating the openness of our government, a fence is being erected around the U.S. Capitol," Little said. "I mourn the loss of life and the loss of access and what it means for future generations of Americans. But I believe we the people have the power to form a more perfect union. How? By condemning the upheaval, not defending or denying it. By refusing to be intimidated by those who seek to destroy our country. By redoubling our commitment to peaceful assembly and civil discourse – not just in the halls of the Capitol but in all areas of our lives."
COVID-19 response and relief
Little acknowledged the more than 1,500 Idahoans who have died from COVID-19
"The COVID-19 reality is heartbreaking," Little said. "To Idaho’s hospitals and health care workers, thank you. The pandemic turned our work lives, social lives, and home lives upside down. It pushed our healthcare, education, and unemployment systems to new lengths. It divided Americans in our individual views on the severity of the disease and how we should respond to it."
Part of the state's response to the pandemic included increased COVID-19 testing, licensing more than 1,000 nurses and activating the Idaho National Guard to help facilitate testing and vaccine distribution.
Little also acknowledged the work of the state's seven public health boards throughout the pandemic.
"Members of the seven public health boards made courageous decisions in the face of heated opposition," Little said. "They have my support. Mayors, county and city officials, and school board members also made very tough decisions. These local leaders labored late into the evening. They navigated new technologies to inform the public. They wrestled with decisions they knew would draw criticism. Thank you."
To help the state through the "homestretch" of fighting the pandemic, Little said he is proposing putting more than $250 million toward the state's public health infrastructure.
Little said the state needs to "invest in an education system that gives the next generation of Idahoans a solid foundation for lifelong learning and meaningful employment, here at home in Idaho."
"Building Idaho's Future" plan focuses on tax relief, boosting the economy
Little announced his "Building Idaho's Future" plan, which includes a proposed $450 million in tax relief, which he said would be the largest tax cut in state history.
The proposal includes a $295 million 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," he said.
Support for local law enforcement
Little showed his support for local law enforcement officers and agencies.
"While other places seek to defund the police, I am proud to say that Idaho DEFENDS the police. Idaho 'backs the blue,'" he said.
Little said he plans to invest to support frontline officers with Idaho State Police and training for local police officers.
Watch the full address here: