Few visits Idaho Falls to discuss proposed budget | Idaho

Governor Brad Little is confident his historic proposed budget for Idaho will pass through the Idaho legislature, with a record surplus of nearly $2 billion and the largest funding proposal heading into Idaho’s education.

“[Our crew and I]didn’t do this budget in a vacuum,” Little said. “We think my budget speed would be very helpful and most of the feedback we got… has been very positive.”

Little held a press conference Friday at the Fish and Game Bureau in Idaho Falls, to answer questions about the state’s state letter and proposed budget, which were revealed Monday. He said that even with the large outlays he’s proposing, he believes the Idaho legislature will approve of what he’s proposing.

“Having once served in the legislature, to do your job,” he said, “you always scrutinize what the executive has to offer and we welcome it.”

Another reason Little is confident is that the Idaho House of Representatives has scheduled a hearing next week on a tax bill that follows his 12% deduction from the income tax proposal. The bill would provide a record $350 million in income tax deductions for Idaho residents.

“It’s always a good sign when both the House and Senate committee chairs are sponsors,” Little said.

He reviewed little of his proposed budget, citing key areas including education, transportation infrastructure, behavioral health, and workforce development, among others.

One investment Little is proposing in eastern Idaho is $10 million to help fund Eastern Idaho College’s Future Tech Building, a vocational and technical education facility the college plans to complete in 2024. This will help ensure that employers in eastern Idaho will receive, he said. The district provides what they need from students entering the labor market in the future by allowing them to participate in the local curriculum.

“Instead of getting the education from Boise, we want it to be run locally,” Little said. “That’s why I’ve been a huge supporter of community college… (the college) really works for the people here in this community.”

The proposal increases funding for education in Idaho at all levels, from public school districts to state universities. Not much is calling for a historic increase in Idaho’s education budget, an 11% increase in the Public Schools General Fund last year. The state will allocate nearly $300 million to the fund, which will give a $1,000 bonus to all teachers this year and fund optional full-day kindergarten in all school districts if 80% of families decide to participate.

Little said he wanted the state to be cautious about its record surplus because he did not expect the surplus to grow at the “terrible” rate it had seen during the pandemic. His proposal increases state money for rainy days by $260 million, which is $1.1 billion across all emergency accounts.

“In my wildest dreams, we never thought we’d have nearly $2 billion in surplus now,” Little said. “We exceeded what we expected by 23% – if it continues, we will do more next time.”

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