BOISE — Governor Brad Little emphasized his push for greater investments in literacy, teachers, and Idaho’s public education system during his State of the State and Budget Address today.
“We have a constitutional and moral obligation to all our youngest citizens,” Governor Little said. “I subscribe to the view that it is better to prepare children today than to repair them later.”
Other highlights from the Governor’s speech include continued regulatory reform, grocery tax relief for Idaho families, responsible budgeting, investments in public safety and corrections, and making health care in Idaho more accessible and affordable for all Idahoans.
“I’m committed to working with the Legislature to invest in education, continue reducing regulatory burdens, and increase all Idahoans’ prosperity and quality of life. I want us to champion affordable health care, make Idaho safer, and promote healthy lands and waters. I want Idahoans to be confident in their state government,” Governor Little said.
Some of Governor Little’s budget and policy highlights include:
Increased funds for literacy and teacher salaries; teacher training to promote school safety; enhanced higher education collaboration and the availability of a new cross-institution cybersecurity program; new career technical education facilities at community colleges; support for Idaho Job Corps at community colleges; and workforce development grants.
Required routine examination and streamlining of Idaho’s full administrative code moving forward; modernization of Idaho statutes; and simplifying licensure laws so individuals relocating to Idaho can start working in their profession more quickly and easily.
Grocery tax relief for Idaho families; Governor’s budget cuts spending, leaves a surplus, bolsters rainy-day funds, and limits true General Fund spending growth to a conservative 3.75-percent; improved process for ensuring accurate economic forecasts; and renewed focus on transparency in Idaho budgeting.
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Medicaid Expansion fully funded with net-zero impact on General Fund; increased number of medical residents in Idaho to address shortage of physicians; new funds to combat opioid crisis; continued support of enhanced short-term plans for Idaho individuals and families priced out of the insurance market by Obamacare; and continued support of community recovery centers.
Investments in Connection and Intervention Stations and community reentry centers to lower taxpayer costs, reduce demand for prison beds, make Idaho communities safer, and help inmates lead productive lives following incarceration; and investments in Idaho State Police fleet, investigators, and dispatchers.
PROMOTING STRONG ECONOMY
New State Broadband Office within Commerce so all of Idaho can be better served with broadband connectivity; praise for passage of U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to support Idaho farmers and producers; and close to $100 million to maintain and improve the state’s highway system.
New resources available to advance Shared Stewardship and the Good Neighbor Authority, to reduce fire risk, create jobs, and promote forest health; ongoing funding for wolf monitoring programs; new position at Office of Species Conservation and continuation of Idaho Roadless Commission to enhance state’s authority over federal lands in the state; continued support for new agriculture lab; and expanded trail maintenance for summer off-highway vehicles.
ENHANCING STATE GOVERNMENT
New State Employee Hotline where state employees can anonymously and securely raise concerns about potential fraud, waste, and abuse within state government; continued investments in IT Modernization to help protect citizen data; and a 2-percent merit-based Change in Employee Compensation to help retain Idaho’s hard-working permanent state employees.