Governor Brad Little proposes big investments in transportation and education alongside tax cuts.
The proposed budget would pay off state building debt and bolster rainy-day funds by adding more than $1 billion to the bank. It would also aim to spend $1.1 billion over the next five years on Idaho education. The Governor also proposed almost a billion dollars in income tax cuts.
Some of Governor Little’s proposals will have a more direct impact on counties. His budget includes a $50 million investment in behavioral healthcare across the state following the Behavioral Health Council’s recommendations at an accelerated rate.
Governor Little also proposed significant investments in transportation infrastructure. The transportation proposal contains a multi-pronged approach including $200 million in on-going funds from the general fund used to address maintenance needs across the state. This will go through the highway distribution accounts which is a 60/40 split between the state and locals. That leaves $80 million on-going funds divided between counties (35%), highway districts (35%), and cities (30%).
A second transportation proposal invests another $200 million in one-time funding to address deficient bridges. Governor Little said, “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully fund known needs – to maintain our roads and bridges permanently with no new taxes.”
Other pieces of the Leading Idaho plan include improved broadband access, increased medical capacity to support Healthy Idaho, better access to outdoor recreation, and improved land and fire management.
Cybersecurity and election security were also mentioned by the Governor. He said, “Last year, I established my Cybersecurity Task Force to come up with new ways to protect Idaho from cyber-attacks and bolster election integrity. My leading Idaho plan implements recommendations from the task force.”
Governor Little then proposed $12 million to establish a new Cyber Response and Defense Fund to prepare to respond to cyber-attacks. The Governor also included a statement about pushing for “proactive integrity audits” on Idaho elections. “We must make election integrity a priority to give our citizens confidence that their vote matters,” Governor Little said.