Idaho Governor Brad Little's 2024 State of the State Address
Photo credit:

On January 8, 2024, Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) delivered his State of the State Address. During the address, Little emphasized a commitment to IDAHO WORKS, a plan to sustain and enhance Idaho.

Balanced Budgetary Focus & Fiscal Conservatism

The address emphasized the administration’s 2024 plan under the IDAHO WORKS initiative. Emphasizing fiscal conservatism, the plan centers on sustaining a surplus, bolstering rainy-day funds, and maintaining a structurally balanced budget. Notably, the proposal encompasses $3.7 billion in state revenue reductions, including up to $150 million in new property tax reductions, building on previous efforts and spending $200 million less than in 2023. Additionally, Little will propose a Balanced Budget Amendment to reinforce responsible financial management.

Border Security

The address outlined plans for mitigating the threat of human trafficking and border security. Little intends to issue an executive order to establish “Operation Esto Perpetua”, examining the link between human trafficking and the Mexico–United States border. As part of this initiative, two Idaho State Police trooper teams will be sent to the border for training and to act as a force multiplier, equipped with tactics to respond to smugglers and abusers. The goal is to strengthen efforts against perpetrators in Idaho and provide comprehensive training for state law enforcement.

Economic Support

The address outlined Little’s desire to boost the state’s economy by upskilling the state’s skilled workforce. The address introduced LAUNCH grants, which would provide 80% of specialized training program costs, up to $8,000, for careers like trucking, linemen, and welding. The address emphasized Little’s goal to retain talent and promote opportunities within the state. The plan aims to train skilled employees and create new prospects for youth by allocating $75 million to the program. Additionally, the administration intends to build on a 10-year plan to increase the number of available doctors in Idaho.

Education Choices

Little outlined an education plan to promote charter schools through streamlined processes and increased transparency. Emphasizing a fair and responsible approach, the plan attempts to avoid diverting resources from public schools. Proposing the largest-ever state investment of $2 billion over the next decade in school facilities, Little plans to target capital construction needs, student achievement, and long-term property tax cuts. The proposal extends to all schools, including substantial funding for charter school facilities, focused on modernizing infrastructure and addressing crucial maintenance.

Mental Health Initiatives

Little’s IDAHO WORKS initiative also aims to address mental health. A $25 million allocation would be used to establish a secure forensic mental health facility, addressing the needs of the dangerously mentally ill to enhance community safety. To support children’s well-being, the plan includes a doubling of funding for school advisers and frontline professionals to assist students facing personal struggles. The IDAHO WORKS plan will also introduce a Statewide Student Behavioral Health Initiative, specifically focusing on suicide prevention. Recognizing the negative impact of social media on youth mental health, Little also calls for meaningful legislative reforms to protect children from the harms of cyberbullying and unrealistic standards promoted on platforms.

Safer Water

Little detailed plans to tackle Idaho’s water challenges in 2024. An allocation of $30 million is earmarked to ensure a stable water supply, with an additional $6.5 million dedicated to addressing invasive quagga mussels. Under the IDAHO WORKS plan, the state’s response to invasive species will be extended, focusing on expanding outdoor recreation opportunities to enhance the quality of life for Idahoans in vast open spaces. The plan also aims to prioritize the ongoing expansion of water infrastructure, highlighting the crucial role of water in public health, economic prosperity, and overall quality of life.

Transportation Infrastructure

IDAHO WORKS aims to enhance transportation infrastructure for 2024. With a $200 million allocation, deteriorating bridges would be repaired or replaced, and an additional $50 million would be allocated for ongoing bonding of $800 million in similar vital projects. Emphasizing property tax cuts, Little urged prioritizing high-priority projects that will benefit future generations, promoting safety and improving overall quality of life.

Latest News