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Politics & Government

Idaho Gov. Brad Little Previews Infrastructure Plan, Responds To Boise State Letter

James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio
Gov. Brad Little (R) speaking with Boise Metro Chamber members before his speech Wednesday.

Raising taxes to help shore up Idaho’s aging infrastructure will be among Gov. Brad Little’s (R) priorities next year.

Little unveiled his plan at the Boise Metro Chamber luncheon Wednesday afternoon.

He didn’t commit to any one way to raise money needed for repairs, but said his office is looking at raising vehicle registration fees, the state gas tax – and even a local option tax.

“Raising taxes or raising fees in Idaho should be difficult and it always will be, but if we collectively – communities, cities, businesses – everybody gets together, I believe we can get this done,” Little said.

It’s unclear what reception such a plan would get at the Capitol, where lawmakers have underfunded such spending for years.

Last year, Idaho earned a C-minus grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers for its infrastructure – mostly because of its bridges and road systems.

In an interview following the event, Little also weighed in on a letter sent by 28 Republican legislators who blasted pro-diversity initiatives at Boise State University.

Rep. Barbara Ehardt’s (R-Idaho Falls) letter, signed by some House Republican leaders, called diversity programs and graduation ceremonies for minority and LGBTQ students “unnecessary costs” that “segregate” the student body.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle (R-Star) compared his cattle to students involved in this debate, saying, "You will see that my concern is we're starting to break us up into groups: the red cattle and black cattle. And that's not what diversification is."

But Little says he supports the programs.

“That’s something that those institutions have been doing – and I’m all about having more and more kids graduating from college … If they think there’s a barrier there, real or perceived, if we can say, ‘We want this barrier out of the way where they can get their education,’ I’m all in.”

Last week, he also weighed in on a cartoon sent to Idaho lawmakers depicting Tromp and the Idaho State Board of Education as clowns, calling it “distasteful.”

Ehardt’s letter also questioned why Boise State targeted undocumented students enrolled in the DACA program for the Idaho Opportunity Scholarship, despite the state turning away more than 1,700 applicants.

A public records request filed by the Idaho Statesman found that a push might be made to ban DACA students from receiving the scholarship next year. The award offers up to $3,500 towards someone attending an in-state school for their undergraduate degree.

It’s unclear how many of Idaho’s roughly 3,000 DACA recipients applied for, or received, the scholarship.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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