Brad Little’s budget boasts 17.1% spending increase, not 8.1%

Brad Little’s budget boasts 17.1% spending increase, not 8.1%

Fred Birnbaum
January 12, 2022
Fred Birnbaum
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January 12, 2022

When Gov. Brad Little took over the reins from Butch Otter, fiscal conservatives were hopeful. 

The last four years of Otter’s tenure were marked by the growth of unsustainable spending. For example, Otter requested in Fiscal Year 2019 a 6.6% increase for the general fund, but it ended up being  9.2% because his administration cleverly hid increases by transferring revenues into dedicated accounts. It was nothing more than budgetary sleight of hand. 

It was refreshing to see Little abandon practice and give a more honest look at proposed spending — that is up until now. 

Little wants to cement a bigger government that will be difficult to reform. What is simply amazing is that the governor didn’t see the agency’s requested increase of 6.2%, from FY22 to FY23, as enough. That’s right, the Governor wants to spend more than his agencies requested, and not by a small percentage.

Little has proposed an 8.1% increase in FY23, at least if one ignores the hundreds of millions of dollars being deducted from Revenues. He’s pulling money out from the revenue bucket so that it does not show up in the 8.1% increase. The real increase will be about 17.1% because $377 million of transfers should be categorized as expenditures. 

But even the 17.1% doesn’t capture how large an expansion of government this budget request envisions. There are six months left in FY22, and Little wants to add more than $1 billion of spending and this doesn’t include money to retire debt early. Much of this money is one-time money that’s needed for buildings and deferred maintenance, but not all of it. 

While Little’’s proposal does include reducing the income tax rate, other forms of relief, like repealing the sales tax for food or reforming property taxes, would be possible with a more conservative budget. 

Let’s focus like a laser on the lowest hanging fruit, the decision to overfund the “rainy day” funds, also known as the Budget Stabilization Funds.

In FY22, the education stabilization funds will get a top up and the budget stabilization fund will get a statutory increase. Little recommends stashing an additional $197 million into these two funds in FY23. Without these additional funds, the rainy day fund balance will be $1 billion, more than 18% of general fund revenues. That’s plenty of taxpayer cash to have stashed away. 

Why not put this money toward grocery tax relief, which would save Idaho residents about $250 million annually? Given that revenues have been ahead of forecasts for years, let’s not get sidetracked on one-time budgetary choices vs. ongoing tax relief, because there is plenty of other spending that can be reduced. 

Why is additional tax relief like removing the tax on food needed? Because according to the Penn Wharton Budget model, inflation is costing the average family an extra $3,500 per year. The income tax cut proposed by the governor is not sufficient to cover inflation. 

In future articles we will spell out more. Stay tuned. 

View Comments
  • RG Ayala says:

    This man is a socialist democrat! More spending, bigger budgets means continuous federal monies coming in to Idaho at the continued expense of Idahoan sovereignty! We must vote to get him out this election year!

  • Rick Rund says:

    Oh great... We need some big spending cuts. Even check/audit programs for feasibility.

    Please reform the property tax. People should not be taxed out of their homes.

    And the feds should also pare back the size and scope of government....

  • Bruce Hendricks says:

    It's good to know that Gov. Small is a limited government advocate...

  • Mark Sparling says:

    We have a $1.9 billion budget surplus and you’re whining about a little added spending?

  • john livingston says:

    If there is a question-and-answer period I would like you to know what my proposals would be ahead of time so you will have an opportunity to think about them:
    1. I would like to see a homeowner's exemption on the first $200,000 dollars of assessed value
    2. I would like people in Idaho who have paid property taxes in any Idaho taxing district for over 30 years to be completely exempt from paying property taxes.
    3. I would like to see a 0.5% decrease in both the individual and corporate tax
    4. I would like to see all State agencies that redistribute over $100million of transfer payments be required to undergo an independent signed partner’s audit to be made available annually to the people of Idaho via their legislature.
    5. I would like to see any business or non-profit that receives over $100million of transfer payments distributed through a State Agency be required to undergo an independent signed partner's audit to be made available to the people of Idaho via an annual report to the legislature.
    6. Failure of any business or non-profit or associated Foundations to submit such an audit would result in revocation of their tax-exempt status---sales and property
    7. Any individual receiving more than $500,000 of government transfer payments is required to submit a Statement of Financial position.

    The tax on property is a tax on wealth not on a transaction or wage.

  • BWB says:

    I want to remind Idaho that the last recession in Idaho in 2008 lasted a very long time. Rainy day funds for a few years to keep our roads and schools open are important to have. It might seem a lot, but just like a home budget, the government needs to keep going. In the big game of a vital world economical instability. Joseph in the Old Testament used the over the amount to store and prepare for the bad years. He had a long-term agricultural policy and Infrastructure plan that lasted 10 years (Genisis 41). Remember we have 3 more years under a president that can turn our economy on its head ( If he is not doing it already). Let us save for the future so we can have a wonderful state when the rough times come again. I think Texas did this prior to 2008 and they came away from less damage than Idaho.

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      $1 billion is plenty, $1.2 billion is excessive. Because the denominator in the equation is the revenue line not the spending line. Stay tuned.

      • brad says:

        Could we survive 10 years if something bad happens to our economy? I want a nice big fat storage for Idaho just in case. Joseph was not liked and he did it anyway. People told him he was spending too much and saving too much as well.

  • Bee says:

    Rest assured LITTLE 'r' will center up and promise less government spending prior to May 17.

  • KJ says:

    Election year sucking up.

  • Bee says:


    Well hell yeah....he's apparently accepted billions from the Biden cabal.

    S҉ ҉ P҉ ҉I҉ ҉ T҉

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