Governor Little outlines budget, policy priorities in first State of the State address

Monday January 7, 2019

BOISE, Idaho – Governor Brad Little is following through on his promises to increase teacher pay, make new investments in public education, eventually eliminate the grocery tax, and fully implement Proposition 2 related to Medicaid expansion during his first State of the State and Budget Address.

Little also announced the impending creation of a new education task force and new executive orders during his speech, which focused on improving education, reinforcing citizen confidence in state government and maintaining fiscal responsibility in state budgeting.

“I invite you to join me in creating the Our Kids, Idaho’s Future task force,” Little said. “The task force will look at our education system holistically – from kindergarten to college and career – and prioritize where we should invest the next available dollar. The goal is to provide the next five-year blueprint for education investment and reform.”

Little also announced an upcoming executive order to combat the State’s growing opioid epidemic. The executive order will formalize a five-year action plan created through the Idaho Office of Drug Policy and the Department of Health and Welfare, broadening efforts to combat addiction while directing future resources and creating non-offender programs for substance abuse.

“Treating addicts and those with mental health problems in prison is expensive, poor public policy, and often too late,” Little said.

During his address, Little also revealed his plans to issue two new executive orders aimed at cutting government red tape.

“My first executive order as Governor will put in place sunrise and sunset processes for future occupational licensing laws,” Little said. “To reduce overall regulatory burdens on our citizens and businesses, I will issue another executive order that requires all state agencies to revoke two regulations for every new one they want to implement. This commitment to cutting red tape will ensure we are governing with the lightest possible hand.”

More information regarding these executive orders and the creation of the Our Kids, Idaho’s Future task force will be released in the coming months.

A full list of highlights from Governor Little’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget can be found here. A few of the highlights from his budget recommendation and State of the State and Budget Address today include:

  • Conservative budget: Governor Little’s FY20 budget recommendation to the Legislature leaves larger-than-normal ending balances in FY 2019 ($97,647,500 ending balance) and FY 2020 ($172,588,000 ending balance), laying the foundation for the grocery tax repeal in FY 2021. The conservative and responsible ending balances also enable the state to respond without disruption in services if revenue shortfalls occur. Governor Little’s budget grows slower than the rate of the state’s forecasted economic growth. Approximately 75-percent of the budget growth is due to population increases and maintenance of operations within agencies.
  • Proposition 2 implementation: Governor Little’s budget implements voter-passed Proposition 2 – Medicaid expansion – with a net-zero impact on the state’s General Fund.
  • Teacher pay: Governor Little recommends increasing starting teacher salaries to $40,000. His budget provides the funding to implement the fifth year of the five-year funding plan for the teacher career ladder. He recommends new funding to recognize and financially reward outstanding teachers. 
  • Investments in education: Governor Little’s budget doubles funding for literacy programs. He recommends additional funding for the popular Advanced Opportunity program for students wanting to go-on to postsecondary learning of their choice. He introduced his plans to create the Our Kids, Idaho’s Future task force to come up with the next five-year blueprint for education investment and reform. He highlighted the creation of his new “Children’s Cabinet” made up a broad group of education stakeholders, including parents, to advise him on a variety of education issues.
  • Higher education: Governor Little recommends a 4.72-percent overall increase in funds for Idaho’s colleges and universities, including new funds to add 19 new medical residents and fellows to address the shortage of physicians in Idaho. He proposes increasing funds available to Idaho students through the Opportunity Scholarship by $7 million.
  • Workforce development: Governor Little’s budget authorizes spending authority to implement the first year of a new three-year Job Corps demonstration project that increases learning for out-of-school or at-risk youth. Governor Little also recommends increasing incentive funding for career technical educators as a means of boosting enrollment in workforce readiness programs. Governor Little’s budget includes new positions at the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Pierce to keep up with the success of the program in helping high school dropouts lead productive lives.
  • First Time Home Buyers Savings Account: Governor Little recommends establishing a program that allows first time homebuyers to reduce the cost of purchasing their first single-family home in Idaho.
  • Health and human services: Governor Little’s budget includes spending authority to create a system of preventing, monitoring and treating opioid-related addiction and carries out a grant that addresses prescription drug misuse among young people.  He recommends continuing a project to update Idaho’s Child Welfare Information System. He proposes additional funding for suicide prevention and establishes a new statewide program that supports family caregivers.
  • Transportation: Governor Little’s budget includes $121,140,100 to support additional maintenance and construction projects on Idaho’s roadways.
  • State employees: Governor Little recommends funding a 3-percent Change in Employee Compensation to increase pay for State employees as a means of retaining valuable public servants.
  • Public safety: Governor Little recommends adding 220 prisoner beds at the new North Idaho Re-Entry Center and the St. Anthony Facility Expansion. His budget adds 17 new probation and parole positions for the Idaho Department of Correction. Governor Little’s budget includes four new Idaho State Police troopers, two in Pocatello and two in Coeur d’Alene. He proposes new spending to assess threats to Idaho’s schools.
  • Natural resources: The State of Idaho assumed primacy from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement the Idaho Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. Governor Little recommends the funding and new positions needed to continue the implementation. Governor Little recommends drawing down the balance in the Idaho Fire Deficiency Fund and pre-funding Idaho’s future fire season costs by adding $20,000,000 to the fund.
  • Veterans: Governor Little recommends spending authority for the construction of Idaho’s fourth veterans home to be located in Post Falls.

The link to Governor Little’s full State of the State and Budget Address today is here.

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