Update on Dec. 23rd: Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay) sent Idaho Dispatch the following message about his thoughts on what to do with Idaho’s surplus:
My hope is that our excess revenue will allow us to take a closer look at the Federal Dollars we receive and see what we may be able to fund ourselves in order to decrease the influence the federal government has over Idaho policy.
Idaho’s budget surplus has now reached 1.6 billion.
The projected tax surplus the state has brought in has been higher several times this year than what the state thought would come in. So the question on some people’s minds is, “What do we do with the surplus?”
Idaho Dispatch reached out to several lawmakers to get their thoughts on what should be done with the surplus.
Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) told Idaho Dispatch,
Idaho has a unique opportunity to use its larger than anticipated surplus to invest in some very important and needed improvements for its citizens.
First, we need to invest heavily in the infrastructure of our state. Many of our roads and bridges are in desperate need of an overhaul and I believe much of the surplus should go to developing and repairing that infrastructure. Doing so will help Idaho continue its growth and is needed to support our increasing commerce. We can’t keep kicking this can down the road and this is the perfect opportunity to make this investment.
Second, Idaho needs to make big investments in education. Our kids need a lot of help, and our teachers are underpaid for the incredible work they do. We have a great opportunity to invest more in our underfunded education system.
Third, we also need tax relief for Idahoans. Our coummunity is still recovering from COVID-19, and while we have the opportunity, we should be putting money back in their pocket. With the rising costs of goods, steep property taxes, and housing affordability, many Idahoans are hurting. We have the opportunity to provide some relief with this surplus.
Finally, Idaho needs a lot more resources for Idahoans who need help with behavior health. From our youth who struggled greatly during the pandemic to adults who also need some extra help from professional behavior health specialists, Idaho is greatly underfunded. We are going to need these resources more and more and Idaho needs to stay up to date with modern behavior health resources.
Idaho Dispatch had also reached out to Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum) and Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) but have not received a response at this time.
Rep. Brent Crane (R-Nampa) told Idaho Dispatch,
Let’s not forget that the money we appropriate belongs to the taxpayers of Idaho. If we have a budget surplus (extra money), then I think we should return the money to the taxpayers of Idaho.
Sen. Christy Zito (R-Hammett) also responded to Idaho Dispatch’s request for comment. Here is what she said,
It is only right that the tax on food be repealed, as inflation is increasing the “hidden tax” that we are paying on food exponentially. It will be an immoral act if this session ends and there has not been real property tax relief. Beyond that, the debt money should be returned to the feds. We are indenturing our children for many many generations to come.
Idaho Dispatch also reached out to Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg), Rep. Tammy Nichols (R-Middleton), and Rep. Sage Dixon (R-Ponderay).
Here is what Nate told Idaho Dispatch about the surplus,
Return it to the taxpayers. Families are struggling in this Biden economy, and they deserve to keep every dollar they earn. We should repeal the sales tax on groceries and radically reform the property tax in Idaho.
Nichols responded to Idaho Dispatch’s question with the following statement:
Idaho really needs to give tax relief to all Idahoans. Several in the legislature have tried recently to bring about good pieces of legislation by eliminating the grocery tax and truly reducing property taxex. Unfortunately leadership prevented those bills from coming to fruition. I am for both of those options as well as reducing or eliminating a wide array of taxes and returning money back into Idahoans pockets. I will be supporting and voting for real tax relief for the people of Idaho.
At the time of this writing, Dixon has not responded to our request for comment.
What do you think Idaho should do with the surplus?
Let us know in the comment section below.
Tags: Budget, Idaho, Surplus