BOISE — In his annual State of the State address, Gov. Brad Little focused on several statewide issues he hopes to address in 2021. Much of Little’s “Building Idaho’s Future” plan encompasses large issues that will affect the entire state. However, his budget also recommended investment in three key places in eastern Idaho.
College of Eastern Idaho
In both his State of the State address and 2021 budget, Little made education a priority. In particular, he wanted to ensure that all types of education and career training were available to Idaho’s future workforce. Little recommended that community college spending increase by 17%, to $57,325,600.
Little is recommending $96.2 million be put toward capital construction projects. Of that, he would like $3 million to go to the College of Eastern Idaho’s Future Tech facility. The estimated $35 million Future Tech facility will be an 80,000-square-foot facility with a 1,000 student capacity. Students could receive technical education and train for apprenticeships. Local workers could receive continuing education in their fields.
“Our students are also Idaho’s future workforce. My plan supports Idaho’s higher education system as well as career technical education programs across Idaho that connect students with employers who need them and equip students with the skills they need while they earn a degree. Our kids need to know all career paths available to them,” Little said.
St. Anthony Work Camp and Juvenile Corrections
In last year’s State of the State, Little noted “investing in proven intervention” to help prevent inmates from reoffending is “fractional to the cost of incarceration.”
“We have a choice. We can either invest in measures designed to reduce the demand for prison beds and promote safer communities, or we can do nothing and ensure the next check we write is larger than the last,” Little said in 2020.
In 2020, a total of $296,231,100 was spent on the Department of Correction and $47,903,200 on the Department of Juvenile Corrections. Little wants to increase those numbers by 0.2% and 2.1%, respectively.
Correction programs in St. Anthony would receive a significant chunk of that money. Little is recommending $3 million for the “startup and staffing costs” of St. Anthony Work Camp‘s planned expansion. The work camp hopes to add an additional 130 beds by September.
He suggests another $6.4 million for the Department of Juvenile Corrections St. Anthony campus.
“Thanks to investments we made in our correctional system last year, Idaho is safer because fewer Idaho inmates are violating parole. My plan keeps us on a path to save taxpayer resources by making strategic investments in overdue infrastructure needs in our criminal justice system so we can break the expensive revolving door of repeat offenders,” Little said.
In his address, Little spoke of “veterans who fought enemies overseas only to suffer from a new invisible enemy here in their community.”
Now, the governor wants the Pocatello, Lewiston and Post Falls State Veterans Home facilities to be given $7.4 million for “life safety and COVID19 projects” to help them cope with the pandemic. The Pocatello Veterans Home is a 66-bed skilled nursing facility for veterans.