end speech

On the heels of the state’s biggest-ever investment in its transportation system ever, Gov. Brad Little is calling for more next year. “We cannot continue our record economic trajectory if our logging trucks can’t get across old bridges or we can’t get our farm products to market,” Little declared in his State of the State message to a joint session of the Legislature this morning.

Last year’s transportation funding package included big investments in major new projects, including an $80 million a year ongoing funding stream to cover bonding. This year, Little wants to target maintenance.

“My budget invests another $200 million in ongoing funding to fully address our known maintenance needs locally and statewide. I also propose we invest another $200 million in onetime funding to clear out one-third of the backlog of deficient bridges,” he said. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fully fund known needs – to maintain our roads and bridges permanently – with no new taxes.”

The ongoing $200 million would come straight out of the general fund. It would be split, with $120 million going to state projects and $80 million to local governments.

Little also is calling for spending $225 million in ARPA and federal infrastructure funds to upgrade broadband infrastructure across the state.

“My budget pays off state building debt, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in interest payments. My budget also puts us on a path to pay off all known deferred maintenance needs – those backlogged repairs needed in our infrastructure – over the next ten years. And my budget bolsters our rainy-day funds to a record level, putting more than $1 billion in the bank to guard against future downturns.”

After Little wrapped up his speech, House Speaker Scott Bedke thanked him, saying, "We do have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here, and let’s not spoil  it."

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

Load comments