There’s a possibility that I’m completely wrong about what Gov. Brad Little will say and propose in his State of the State address today. But Little has dropped enough clues over the years that I think it’s fairly reasonable to release my response before he gives his speech. If I’m wrong and I need to change it, I will. For now, here it is:
“I’m going to pretend to be shocked that Gov. Little didn’t propose eliminating the grocery tax. After all, the state’s budget surplus is more than six times what it would be to get rid of the tax. And as we all know, the grocery tax is hurting Idahoans even more today, given that inflation is driving up the cost to feed a family.
“When Little was running for governor in 2018, he said he supported getting rid of the grocery tax, so it’s disappointing that he’s not honoring that promise.
“It would be another matter if the governor needed to keep the grocery tax in order to make another, more dramatic shift in tax policy, like getting rid of the income tax or the property tax. But he instead opted to just lower the income tax a little. That’s not to say that the governor’s tax relief plan isn’t welcome news, it’s just not ambitious enough.
“It’s also concerning that instead of giving Idahoans a more dramatic tax cut, he’s decided to use some of our hard-earned money to grow government. The biggest complaint is the addition of a new government housing program. It’s a shame that my money will be taken from me in order to pay for someone else’s housing. Affordable housing is a problem, but most of the blame rests with government programs, laws, and taxes. More government won’t make matters better; it’ll just make politicians feel better about themselves and help collect campaign donations.
“In all, the governor proposes too much spending. A good candidate for less money was Idaho’s public colleges and universities. Just as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking on social justice indoctrination in education, it would have been nice to see Little do the same, and he has good reason to.
“Last year, Little signed a bill to cut $2.5 million from higher education social justice programs. But the university presidents decided they’d just disregard that instruction. The social justice programs that were in place last year on Idaho’s college campuses still persist. The schools even continue to ask job candidates to sign woke diversity and inclusion pledges as a condition of employment.
“It’s also unfortunate that Little’s plan for the K-12 government school system is more of the same, more money tied to a basket of empty promises about performance and achievement that will never come true. Gov. Little also had an opportunity to use the budget surplus to eliminate the financial hold the federal government exerts over our schoolhouses and schoolchildren, but didn't.
“It would have been nice if the governor got behind the growing Idaho movement to expand school choice through the addition of an education savings account system that lets the money follow students to the school or education resource that best serves their needs.
“That’s not even a terribly original proposal; students in other states benefit from ESAs already, but Idaho students don’t have the same opportunity.
"An original, welcome idea would have been for the governor to propose adding Bitcoin to the state’s balance sheet so as to protect the state from government inflationary policies. Our state government should not sit and act helpless when it comes to the federal money printer and its impact on Idahoans. That's also not among Little's recommendations.
“Finally, I’d point out that even though the governor delivered the same, predictable government-centric plan for 2022, lawmakers are not bound to his recommendations. They still have an opportunity to go another direction, and give the residents of Idaho something different in the form of real conservative policy solutions."