Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little delivered his 2023 State of the State and Budget Address today, pledging to deliver on the mandate given by the people of Idaho to continue investing in public schools, strengthen our workforce, provide more tax relief, and promote safe communities.
“Our success did not happen by accident. What we’re doing is working. Plain and simple, the people of Idaho have given us a mandate: to stay on course, put IDAHO FIRST, continue down this path of prosperity, and keep investing in education,” Governor Little said. “To the people of Idaho, we are listening, and we will continue to deliver. We are not backing down on education – we are doubling down on education. My budget and policy recommendations deliver on the mandate given to us by the people of Idaho.”
Highlights of Governor Little’s State of the State and Budget Address and IDAHO FIRST plan include:
- EDUCATION – 80-percent of Idaho voters affirmed the record education investments passed during the 2022 extraordinary session last September. Governor Little’s plan fulfills the $330 million investment in K-12 public schools by targeting starting teacher pay in the top 10 nationally, boosting pay and benefits for all teachers to keep our state competitive, closing the salary gap for classified staff, improving school facility security, and other steps.
- WORKFORCE – The availability of skilled workers is the #1 challenge facing Idaho employers. Governor Little’s plan gets more skilled workers through their doors and opens more opportunities for Idahoans by providing access to an $8,500 scholarship starting next year to graduating high school students in Idaho to attend an Idaho university, community college, career technical or workforce training program of their choice. The “Idaho Launch” scholarship will be the single largest investment in career technical and workforce training in state history.
- EMPOWERING PARENTS – Idaho already offers an abundance of school choice options for families, and Governor Little’s plan makes permanent the popular Empowering Parents grant program to support student learning outside the classroom.
- TAX RELIEF – While no local property taxes are paid to state government and no state official can decide what local property taxes will be, Idahoans are demanding relief from rising property taxes. Governor Little’s plan puts $120 million to defray local property taxes. Governor Little’s plan also fulfills the income tax reductions passed during the 2022 extraordinary session, which were affirmed by four out of five Idaho voters.
- FIGHT FENTANYL – Fentanyl is the deadliest drug our society has ever faced. Governor Little is calling for the development of a new statewide drug interdiction team at the Idaho State Police and enhanced testing and training. In addition, a new educational awareness campaign just launched at FentanylTakesAll.org will inform our youth about the dangers of fentanyl.
- BACK THE BLUE – Governor Little’s plan adds 10-percent pay raises for our brave and dedicated law enforcement officers. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, while other places seek to defund the police, here in Idaho we DEFEND the police!” Governor Little said.
- INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENTS – Governor Little and the Legislature have championed investments in critical infrastructure without raising taxes or fees. The Governor’s budget builds off these previous commitments with more than $1 billion in new investments including fully funding the known ongoing transportation safety gap and improving local bridges, airports, and pedestrian and safety projects, and expanding broadband. His plan makes continued investments in water, energy, outdoor recreation, and agriculture.
- SAFE AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES – Governor Little’s plan continues to implement recommendations from Idaho’s historic three-branch Behavioral Health Council with more than $100 million to expand resources for mental health and childcare, improve emergency medical services in rural areas, add more physicians, and make other investments to improve services for Idaho families.
- FISCAL PRUDENCE – Governor Little’s budget continues fiscal prudence to better prepare Idaho for any economic conditions by paying off debt, addressing deferred maintenance, bolstering rainy-day funds, augmenting the fire suppression fund, maintaining a structurally balanced budget, and leaving a healthy surplus to provide a greater cushion against economic uncertainty.
Special guests at today’s speech included students from Centennial Elementary School in Nampa, the student body presidents at four Idaho colleges, the parents of a boy killed by accidental fentanyl poisoning, members of the Idaho State Police, and veterans.