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Idaho governor eyes tax relief with budget surplus

Gov. Brad Little talks about the state budget during a press conference Friday.

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he's looking at potential tax relief as well as investments in education and transportation after tax revenue blew past projections for the third consecutive month resulting in a projected $530 million budget surplus.

The Republican governor said Friday that September revenue came in $33 million ahead of what had been forecast.

Idaho tax revenue is 10% more this fiscal year than last year despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Little attributed the surplus to conservative budgeting and regulation cuts.

He says the big budget decisions will be made when the Legislature returns to the Statehouse in January.

You can watch the Governor's press conference and press release below.

Boise, Idaho (Press Release from Idaho Governor's office) – A strong and open economy, Idahoans’ preventive actions against COVID-19, and other steps have positioned Idaho to potentially achieve the largest state budget surplus in Idaho history, but Governor Brad Little warned Idahoans to ramp up personal actions to prevent virus spread in order to protect lives, keep schools open, and continue our economic momentum.

“I am proud to talk about all the ways Idaho is leading the country in our economic prosperity, but we simply cannot continue that trajectory if do not do all we can to protect our neighbors, schools, and the economy in the coming months,” Governor Little said.

September revenue figures were published today, coming in $33 million ahead of forecast. It marks the third straight month of the new fiscal year where the economy beat projections. Idaho is bringing in 10-percent more this fiscal year compared to last fiscal year.

Idaho is on track for a $530 million surplus in the current fiscal year, approximately 10-times what was expected prior to the pandemic. If it holds, it will be the largest surplus in state history.

“I’m optimistic that if we collectively continue our efforts to fight COVID-19, we will have enough money in the state budget at the end of the fiscal year to provide tax relief to Idahoans and make much needed investments in education, transportation, and water projects,” Governor Little said.

All 115 of Idaho school districts are open for in-person or part-in-person learning while students in many other states face an entire academic year of full remote learning. Idaho is first among states for economic momentum and financial stability. Idaho’s employment rate is third best in the country, and Idaho is a top 10 state for our unemployment trust fund solvency.

Governor Little emphasized the need for Idahoans to wear masks, keep their distance from others, and take other preventive steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 to keep schools open and our economic momentum going.

“Sadly, 503 of our fellow Idahoans have already died within just a few months from this aggressive and highly contagious disease, and that number would be exponentially higher if we had not taken steps to protect lives and preserve healthcare capacity since the spring,” Governor Little said. “But with temperatures starting to drop, case numbers are already starting to climb, and we must do all we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

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