Boise, ID—On Monday, Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman praised newly sworn-in Gov. Brad Little who, in his first State of the State address, called for aggressive regulatory reform, plus a full repeal of Idaho’s grocery tax.

“Gov. Brad Little is on the right track with his commitment to occupational licensure reform,” Hoffman said. “Sensible improvements in this policy area will deliver more jobs and economic opportunity to Idahoans, particularly our low-income friends and neighbors.”

Little, sworn in as Idaho’s 33rd governor on Friday, promised to sign an executive order mandating that state agencies cut two regulations for each one they propose to add to the rule books. The new governor also pledged to direct state agencies to build “sunrise and sunset processes” into future occupation licensing laws.

“I also applaud Gov. Little for keeping his word and calling for a full grocery tax repeal,” Hoffman added. “To fulfill this new pledge, Little should introduce and work to pass the repeal legislation during the 2019 session, even if the actual impact takes place during Fiscal Year 2021.”

Hoffman did express concern over the governor’s budget, which raises state general fund spending by 6.7 percent above the original Fiscal Year 2019 appropriation, and more than 8 percent when the one-time budgetary transfers are added back. Though the 8-percent hike is less than the 10.3 percent increase the agencies had requested and lower than Gov. Butch Otter’s requested increase for the current year, when transfers are added back, Little’s spending hike is still a big increase.

“Idaho taxpayers simply can’t afford everything on the governor’s wish list. The Legislature must get spending under control during the 2019 legislative session,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman noted that Gov. Little should be applauded for trimming nearly $120 million from agency discretionary requests and more than $16 million from agency replacement items. Still problematic, Hoffman pointed out, is the nearly 5 percent increase in spending needed to maintain current levels of government. Hoffman urged officials to tackle this problem and conduct a review of base spending.

Hoffman also said the governor’s support of a tax break for first-time homebuyers is not a good policy idea and should not advance.

“It would not be fair for existing homeowners and renters to pay higher taxes than people who are saving for a first home,” Hoffman explained. “If we really want to address home affordability, we should get the government out of playing a central role in the housing marketplace. Creating a tax incentive is precisely the wrong approach to making housing more affordable.”

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