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State of the State: Gov. Brad Little announces 'Leading Idaho' plan, details surplus and education spending

Gov. Brad Little 2022 State of the State address
Posted at 1:33 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 09:25:27-05

BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little announced a new plan called "Leading Idaho" during his State of the State address Monday. The new plan details plans for Idaho's currently $1.9 billion budget surplus.

Little said the new plan is created to "give back our record budget surplus to Idahoans" via tax relief and investments.

Education investments

In his address, Little said he proposes investing $1.1 billion to improve education in Idaho over five years, including immediately investing $47 million in literacy programs.

"Literacy has been my top priority because it just makes sense. Our investments in education later on will have more impact if we can work with families to get more students to read proficiently early on," Little said in his address.

His plan also proposes $50 million for a grant program called "Empowering Parents" grants, which will help cover items like computers, tutoring, internet connectivity and more.

Related: Idaho governor, lawmakers eye tax cuts with budget surplus

Transportation and infrastructure investment plans

The new budget adds $200 million toward funding maintenance needs across the state, as well as another $200 million in one-time funding to clear out a third of the backlog of deficient bridges, Little said.

"I am unwilling to put the safety of Idahoans and the maintenance of our state’s roads and bridges at the whims of the feds," Little said. "We must not look to Washington, D.C. to solve our problems. Leading Idaho means addressing our own state’s needs. Together, we’ll show Washington, D.C., how to tackle transportation – by fully funding known gaps with no new taxes and providing long-term funding for long-term needs."

Investing in police, Idaho National Guard

The plan includes more than $60 million for Idaho State Police and "the biggest investment ever" in State Veterans Homes at $75 million to improve services.

Little said he plans to double the state's investment in scholarships for Idaho National Guardsmen.

"Military service has always been and always will be one of the most honorable ways for a person to serve their community, state, and country," Little said. "We are so grateful to our Guardsmen and all military service members and veterans for all they have done and continue to do to promote freedom and peace in our country."

Related: Idaho lawmakers prepare for upcoming legislative session

Tax relief plans

Little proposed "immediately" passing $600 million in income tax relief as well as $350 million in rebates and $250 million in ongoing income tax relief. Little said the tax proposal will allow "working families to keep more of what they earned and free them from the penalty of living with historic inflation."

Behavioral health investments

The new plan also proposes investing $50 million to improve access to behavioral health resources in Idaho.

"It is one step of many we will take to help prevent tragedy, improve lives, and make our communities safer," Little said.

"Operation Esto Perpetua"

Little announced his new plan "Operation Esto Perpetua", which he said will "will bring together law enforcement and communities in new ways." Little said more information on the plan will be available in the coming weeks and he will "continue to fight the consequences of our loose border and curb the smuggling of killer drugs such as fentanyl into our state from Mexico."

Related: Gov. Little visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week

Watch the full address here: