Gov. Little Proposes $120M in Property Tax Relief During State of the State

9 Jan 2023, by Sara Westbrook Share :

Governor Brad Little gave his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Idaho Legislature. During the speech, the Governor rolled out the “Idaho First” plan. The plan includes support for schools, property tax relief, and a new strategy to fight fentanyl.

Property tax relief and continued investments in transportation infrastructure are key components in the Idaho First plan. “The Tax Foundation ranks states on their business tax climate,” Governor Little explained. “It is a useful barometer of a state’s competitiveness to attract and retain businesses. In just four years, we’ve risen six spots, and that’s even before accounting for the income tax reductions adopted during last year’s special session…. One area where we really shine may surprise you. The Tax Foundation ranks Idaho as having the third lowest property taxes in the country.”

Governor Little acknowledged that Idahoans struggling with inflation receive sticker shock when their property tax bill arrives since it lists the full amount. He recognizes that while property taxes are not paid to the state, the state has parameters around how local property taxes are allowed to be set, so Idahoans are looking to the state for help. The Governor said, “Idahoans want relief from rising property taxes, and we hear them. My Idaho First plan puts another $120 million toward property tax relief to answer the call for help from Idahoans.” He encouraged working together to find “better ways to facilitate growth, paying for growth, and giving local governments the tools they need to keep taxes low.”

The Governor pointed out that “investing in local infrastructure IS property tax relief,” including continuing to invest in local roads and bridges with an additional $200 million to continue to address local bridge needs using the Leading Idaho Local Bridge program that launched last year. In addition to the above-mentioned funding, some other infrastructure investments of interest to counties include:

  • Invests $96.8 million to address ongoing transportation safety gap to increase driver safety with capacity enhancements and safety features like turn lanes, traffic signals, widened roadways, and guardrails.
  • Reserves $100 million for economically significant local transportation projects that are otherwise beyond the reach of local government finances.
  • Leverages $225 million in federal funding to improve broadband infrastructure throughout the state. The Idaho Broadband Advisory Board will oversee the distribution of funds.

Governor Little then shifted gears and focused on law enforcement and a new educational awareness campaign to address the alarming increase in fentanyl overdoses. More information about the “All It Takes” campaign can be found at FentanylTakesAll.org.

Some of Governor Little’s other budget recommendations that may be of interest to counties include:

  • Transfers $1.1 million to the Idaho Peace Officer Standard and Training (POST) to help stabilize against increased inflation costs.
  • Provide $4.1 million for additional safe teen reception centers to provide an alternative placement option for law enforcement for troubled youth to connect them with long-term community-based resources.
  • Implements Idaho Behavioral Health Council recommendations by providing $400K for a court-implemented pre-plea diversion program and a low-risk/high-need treatment court evaluation pilot program.
  • Provides $20 million in ongoing federal funding for Ground Emergency Medical Transport to ensure access to ambulance services and emergency medical care in rural areas remains viable.

Finally, Governor Little spoke about what the state is doing to prepare for a predicted recession, including paying off GARVEE debt, bolstering state rainy-day funds, leaving a surplus greater than $200 million in both budgeted years for extra economic cushion, and maintaining a structurally balanced budget over a five-year horizon using a fiscal stress test that accounts for the probability of a recession.

A detailed summary of Governor Little’s budget highlights is available here.

The full text of the Governor’s 2023 State of the State and Budget Address is available here.

 

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