Summary of Gov. Little’s State of the State Address 2024

9 Jan 2024, by Sara Westbrook Share :

Governor Little Launches Idaho Works Initiative: Highlights Infrastructure Funding, Fiscal Conservatism in State of the State.

In recent years, Governor Little and the Legislature have championed investments in infrastructure without raising taxes or fees. This year is no different.  

Governor Little said, “I’m here to attest to the historic investment the Legislature has provided for our local and state system. Transportation projects are needs, not merely wants.” The governor is advocating for additional transportation funding that will continue to benefit counties, including a request for an additional $200 million as the final tranche in an effort to improve local bridges, particularly those that are more than 50 years old. Governor Little and the Legislature have previously allocated $400 million to this effort.

Governor Little is advocating for property tax relief in the form of an additional $125 million in state funding for school facilities. This will be directed to local school districts to defray the costs of unmet capital construction needs.

A recommendation for funds for the establishment of the Office of the State Public Defender (SPD) was also included in the Governor’s State of the State. The new SPD will absorb the PDC’s existing budget in addition to the $36 million in dedicated fund spending authority requests to hire public defenders and support staff as well as contract with private defense attorneys.

Governor Little proposed that $25 million be used for the construction of a secure 26-bed mental health facility to care for patients committed and determined to be dangerously mentally ill by Idaho courts was another recommendation.

Continuing to invest in water infrastructure is also a priority for the Governor. One of the proposed investments would include $6.6 Million to continue addressing the invasive Quagga mussels in the Snake River. 

Much of Governor Little’s State of the State address focused on how the state of Idaho differs from the federal government, particularly focusing on the importance of living within our means by having a structurally balanced budget each year. The governor announced that he is signing on as a member of the Governors Debt Council for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. 

Governor Little said, “The U.S. Constitution gives the states the power to propose a Balanced Budget Amendment, and in the coming weeks, I will announce new steps we’ll take to force Congress to live within the people’s means.”