Lupe Wissel

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On behalf of more than 180,000 members across the Gem state, and given the challenges of the past two years, I would like to applaud Governor Little’s fiscal success during what has been a challenging time. We are proud Idaho is leading by example and hopeful of the future priorities outlined in today’s State of the State address.

For the third year in a row, Governor Little continues to focus on the importance of young people in Idaho and while we certainly agree, we would again offer a reminder that Idaho’s population is aging faster than most. This includes an influx of new residents seeking retirement opportunities in the Gem State.

Idaho’s 65+ population has increased by 53 percent in the last 10 years and will represent 20 percent of the population by 2026. We think Idaho deserves to be a great place for people of all ages – not just children and grandchildren.

Idaho has done a remarkable job saving money. Let’s work this session to make that a reality for Idaho employees. A lack of access to workplace retirement savings plans is a major contributor to a shortage of savings for Idaho’s workforce. We’re asking for a review of the Idaho’s Office of Performance Evaluation study released in 2020 and consider sensible solutions to encourage more Idahoans to voluntarily save for their future.

The Governor’s tax relief efforts are also admirable. We would ask that these measures also include a solution for property taxes that continue to escalate and are increasingly burdensome on our most vulnerable population. We support eliminating the eligibility cap placed on the Circuit Breaker program last legislative session and doing everything possible to keep people in their homes.

And while the population continues to increase across the state, investments in transportation and infrastructure continue to be vital. We support efforts to make Idaho more age-friendly and safe while connecting people to economic, social and civic opportunities in their communities.

One of the needs the pandemic exposed is Idaho’s lack of adequate broadband infrastructure across the state. We have long held this to be important and applaud Governor Little’s initiative to improve access. Older Idahoans, especially in rural areas, are increasingly dependent on internet access for telehealth and information; we hope the administration will continue to make this a priority.

Investments in veteran’s services, education, workforce development, natural resources and public safety are necessary considerations for Idaho moving forward, but the needs of older Idahoans also deserve additional considerations.

We agree with Governor Little that we have the opportunity and responsibility to invest in our future now but in a way that supports our rapidly aging population. It’s a reality we cannot afford to ignore. Let’s work together to make Idaho great for people of all ages.

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