AARP AARP States Idaho

Response to Governor Little’s State of the State

Lupe Wissel, AARP Idaho state director

On behalf of AARP Idaho and our more than 185,000 members across the state, I would like to applaud Governor Little’s leadership during this most difficult time and to address some of the administration’s priorities outlined in the 2021 State of the State address.

And just like Governor Little repeating the phrase “what a year” from his 2020 address so too will we repeat our previous year’s response - we think Idaho deserves to be a great place for people of all ages – not just children and grandchildren. The Governor continues to focus on the importance of young people in Idaho and while we certainly agree on certain levels, we would again offer a reminder that Idaho’s population is aging faster than most including a robust influx of new residents seeking retirement opportunities in the Gem State.

This is more than a trend. The aging of Idaho will continue and issues important to older Idahoans deserve and demand attention.

The Governor’s tax relief efforts are 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 populations. We have long supported lowering the barriers of access to the Circuit Breaker program and would welcome a broader discussion that helps keep people in their homes as they age.

Transportation issues are also important to older Idahoans. For nearly 40 years, we have worked in Idaho keeping drivers safe on Gem State roads through our Driver Safety program. While we applaud the use of transportation funding for pedestrian safety programs, like safe routes to school, we also hope it will include ways to increase mobility options for everyone.  

Adequate broadband infrastructure across the state is an area we have long held to be important. Governor Little’s recommendation of $50 million toward improved access will give Idahoans increased access to telehealth and improved care in rural communities for patients who might otherwise have to travel long distances for specialty services. This has never been more important.

Finally, the time is now to begin talking about saving for retirement and helping address what is becoming an alarmingly desperate situation for Idaho workers. Too many small business employees do not have a way to save for retirement out of their regular paycheck. If we begin to act today, Idaho can help small businesses and their employees’ access retirement savings accounts so they can save for a more secure future, and live the life they want to live as they age.

We are asking for a full review of the Office of Performance Evaluation study released in August 2020 on the retirement savings crisis in Idaho and for lawmakers to consider sensible solutions to encourage more employees to save for their future.

AARP Idaho stands ready to work in collaboration this administration, members of the Legislature and other stakeholders to help make Idaho a great place to live for people of all ages. 

Lupe Wissel
AARP Idaho state director

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