ID Governor Kicks Off 2022 Legislative Season with Optimistic State of the State

Governor Brad Little (R) led off the beginning of the 2022 Idaho Legislative Session with his annual State of the State and Budget address, before a joint session of the Legislature, yesterday afternoon. The speech was highlighted by an optimistic view of Idaho’s economy and job outlook, but specifically by the $1.9 billion budget surplus that the Governor announced in his speech — $300 million more than was originally estimated. Idaho’s total operating budget for FY2021 was $4.1 billion in general-fund spending, with a total overall budget of $9.9 billion for the State. As such, the surplus is a significant component of the normal available budget.

“My friends, our success is no accident,” Little told lawmakers. “While other states liquidated their rainy-day funds and begged politicians in Washington, D.C. for a bailout, together we rolled up our sleeves, made tough decisions, and led Idaho,” he said. “Idaho has put more money back into the people’s pockets. Last year, together we cut income taxes and returned $450 million to all Idaho citizens and businesses. It was called the biggest tax cut in state history, but I call it a good start.”

With the surplus, the Governor outlined that Idaho, and it’s elected leaders, have a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only provide tax relief for the citizens of the state, but provide strategic and targeted investment in infrastructure, education, and other structural programs, while still balancing the budget for a rainy day scenario in the future. Speaker of the House, Scott Bedke (R – Oakley – 27) reiterated the “once in a lifetime” opportunity as he ended the joint session of the Idaho Legislature. The Session will kick-off, in earnest, today with the House and Senate gaveling in to address housekeeping matters, and to begin the legislative process.

The Governor outlined several programs and budgetary targets he will be working with the Legislature to put in place over the course of the next 3-4 months. The onlookers and Legislative attendees provided high praise for his plans to both tackle pressing financial needs within the state, while also making a plan to return a significant amount to Idaho taxpayers, through tax cuts and rebates. The next few weeks will tell what political arm twisting and negotiation will take place to move his proposals forward.

Governor Little highlighted a set of policy objectives and financial goals in program he outlined as Leading Idaho. Some of the highlights that Governor Little outlined in his speech are provided below, but you can read the highlights of all of the Leading Idaho programs by clicking here. If you would like read the Governor’s full speech, it can be found here.

Leading Idaho highlights:

  • Education and Workforce Development – making one of the largest investment in Idaho education in history, including:
    • $1.15 billion over the next five years that will go to fund increases in school funding, teacher pay, and health benefits, as well as additional support for literacy programs.
    • $47 million in new grant funding to provide Empowering Parents Grants so that they have tools and technologies to help children with their education needs. This is a program that was spawned from COVID relief grants that were well received by families across the state.
    • $50 million in additional workforce development programs and $10 million for specific workforce programs at Idaho’s community colleges
  • Tax Relief – Governor Little is proposing over $1 billion in tax relief to Idaho tax payers over the next five years, which would include:
    • $600 million in income tax relief to households and businesses, with $350 million in immediate relief and $250 million in relief in future years.
    • Locking in the previously established flattened tax rates for Idaho’s small businesses.
  • Transportation and Infrastructure – during the State of the State, the Governor outlined historic investments in  roads and bridges to manage through current and future growth in our State. The plan will include:
    • $200 million in one-time funding for local bridges;
    • $200 million in ongoing funding to fully eliminate the maintenance infrastructure gap, with no additional new taxes; and,
    • He did mention the need to establish a permanent mechanism for long-term transportation, but that was not fully fleshed out in the presentation.

The presentation included additional program support for the Idaho State Police, cybersecurity response and defenses, broadband advancement, mental health support services, bolstering veterans support programs, water infrastructure and fire suppression projects, election integrity and transparency programs, as well as a number of other projects and programs.

The NWCUA will continue to closely follow all of the legislative activities of this Session, and keep you closely in the loop on the work being completed by the Legislature. In addition, we have an update to the Idaho Credit Union Act, which is highlighted by updates that will allow ease of branching, reasonable member expulsion provisions, corporate powers innovation, and flexibility for virtual board and membership meetings.

Please make a plan to be with us at the Idaho Credit Union Day at the Capitol events taking place on January 25 and 26, where you can share your support for continued modernization of our Act. If you have not registered you or your teams, please click here and make a plan to join us!

Posted in Advocacy News, Advocacy on the Move, Idaho Advocacy.