Tom Luna photo

Tom Luna.

Lately, it seems like all I read is negative news from the main street media when it comes to financial matters. Although President Biden’s policies have created any number of worrisome, noteworthy indicators, nationally, including seven percent inflation, outrageously high gas prices, plummeting consumer confidence levels, and poor jobs numbers, to name just a few — one would be remiss to not recognize just how much of an outlier the Idaho economy is proving itself to be.

Despite facing a series of economic shocks, any one of which could’ve single-handedly derailed Idaho’s economic recovery, business is booming in the gem state. Despite dealing with severe statewide droughts, facing a flurry of wildfires, and responding to an ongoing public health crisis, Idaho has nevertheless emerged as one of the brightest spots in an otherwise depressed economic environment.

This didn’t happen by chance. It’s the result of disciplined adherence to the principles of fiscal conservatism.

Here are the facts, since February 2020, when Idaho rose to the top of the economic leaderboards. Today, Idaho is ranked second amongst all states in terms of job recovery and one of only two states whose job creation numbers now exceed prepandemic levels. Idaho has not only recovered every single job lost during the shutdown, but it’s also managed to expand its job base, posting a whopping 120 percent job recovery rate.

Idaho’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is almost 50 percent lower than the national average of 4.8 percent. Idaho’s impressive record when it comes to job creation earned it the honor of being named the number one spot for economic growth according to the 2021 U.S. News Best States rankings. Furthermore, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nationally respected conservative organization, recently ranked Idaho No. 1 amongst all 50 states for economic performance.

How did Idaho accomplish such a feat? Did it resort to gimmicky spend now, tax later policies like our neighbors, California and Washington? Quite the contrary, Idaho’s leaders adopted principled, conservative policies which are now paying dividends. Meanwhile, blue states are waiting in the handout line, begging Biden for bailouts.

The good news continues. Despite the pandemic, Idaho’s budget situation is better than ever before. The Fitch Credit Rating Agency recently upgraded Idaho’s credit rating to AAA status for the first time in history, saving taxpayers even more money in the future.

One of the reasons Idaho was able to achieve such a high rating is because of our record budget surplus. Idaho’s budget surplus currently exceeds $1.6 billion. And that’s after the legislature passed the largest income tax cut in state history. Over $445 million was returned to hardworking taxpayers this year in the form of rebate checks. This first-of-its-kind tax cut allowed Idaho families and businesses to invest their own money back into the economy, further fueling a virtuous cycle of growth.

Idaho’s successful conservative approach is not an aberration. When one correlates economic performance with conservative political leadership, a very clear trend reveals itself. It’s not a coincidence that sixteen out of the top twenty states, in terms of employment rates, have a Republican governor. Furthermore, eighteen out of the top twenty states, in terms of job growth, have Republican-controlled legislatures.

So next time you hear someone denouncing the Idaho Republican Party as being extreme, remember this, we are extreme, we are extremely good at running Idaho’s economy, creating jobs, and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket instead of the bank account of some unelected bureaucrat.

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