From the Executive Director: Week of January 10

10 Jan 2022, by Seth Grigg Share :

All Eyes on Budget Surplus

As the 2022 Legislative Session officially begins, the Legislature is poised to tackle legislation ranging from vaccines mandates to election security to housing, but the real question on everyone’s mind is what the Legislature will do with the state’s historical budget surplus which now exceeds $1.6 billion. Look for policy makers to prioritize some of the surplus for needed investment in the state and local transportation system, including ongoing funding for deferred maintenance and one-time funding for bridge replacement. While infrastructure is certainly on the table, most debate on how to use the surplus will focus on tax relief, with calls to reduce the income tax rate from 6.5% to 6%, funding to replace supplemental levies, elimination of the sales tax on groceries, and more general discussion on reducing property taxes.

As far as county specific legislation goes, IAC will advocate for the following:

  • Full state funding of public defender services (currently the state cover only 25% of the overall cost of public defense in Idaho),
  • Authorization for counties to create regional public defense districts,
  • Additional county representation on the Public Defense Commission, 
  • Full state funding for hospital and psychiatric expenses for those in the involuntary commitment process,
  • Authorization for counties to establish a property tax relief fund with authority to levy a local option sales and use tax as the means of funding local property tax relief,
  • Funding of the housing trust fund to aid in the development of workforce housing, and
  • A tax on vape products dedicated to juvenile justice services.

IAC will also assist its affiliate organizations in advocating for their respective legislative priorities.

We’ll use our weekly IAC Legislative Bulletin to keep you informed of the goings on at the Capitol. In addition, we will also host a weekly legislative review via Zoom on Fridays which will allow us to have a weekly discussion with the membership about weekly legislative activity. We hope you will make time to join us each Friday at 11am MT/10am PT and participate in the discussion.