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Agenbroad can't defend his pro-Big Govt record, so he attacks IFF instead

Agenbroad can't defend his pro-Big Govt record, so he attacks IFF instead

Fred Birnbaum
April 18, 2022
Fred Birnbaum
Author Image
April 18, 2022

State Sen. Jeff Agenbroad’s recent attack in the Idaho Press Tribune on the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s policy and appropriation bill reviews doesn’t reflect any change in our scores or tactics, but rather his problematic voting record. 

And he doesn’t like our drawing attention to his voting record that demonstrates he is a big spender who has voted to grow state government dramatically.  

Let’s share some facts about Agenbroad’s votes.

When Agenbroad started in the Legislature in 2017, Idaho’s all-funds budget appropriation was $7.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). For FY23, the appropriations that Agenbroad voted for total $12.9 billion. That is a 63.3% increase in 5 years. 

He claims he isn’t a spendthrift, which would be credible if he voted against budget bills. But Agenbroad rarely votes against budget bills. He has served on the Joint Finance and Appropriation Committee (JFAC) since his first day in office. JFAC developed the budgets that he voted for. So unless a 10.3% compounded annual spending increase for the last five years is fiscally conservative, it would seem that IFF’s criticism of Agenbroad’s voting record is on point.

One of the biggest drivers of the huge growth in spending has been the Medicaid budget. Agenbroad voted for the FY18 appropriation of $2.285 billion and for the FY23 appropriation of $4.045 billion, a 77% increase in five years and a staggering compounded annual increase of 12.1%. And he voted for every Medicaid budget increase each year.

Perhaps one of the reasons that Agenbroad says he detected a change in “IFF’s behavior” three years ago is because in 2019 we started our Spending Index as another measurement tool. Whereas the Freedom Index reviews bills regarding regulation and policy, the Spending Index only measures appropriation bills, a critical component of Agenbroad’s record as a member of JFAC that he now co-chairs. 

For the 2019 session, Agenbroad’s Spending Index score of 7.1% tied for the lowest in the Senate. It improved slightly to 8.7% in 2020, putting him right next to Senate Democrat Minority Leader Michelle Stennett’s 8%. For 2021, Agenbroad tied for last again. And finally, the senator’s dismal 4.5% in 2022 put him ahead of only one Senate Democrat.

In short, he votes for nearly every budget no matter how large, including ones that any reasonable Republican might find objectionable like bloated Medicaid budgets or higher education budgets that fund social justice programs at Idaho colleges. 

It's fair to say Agenbroad’s budget votes are indistinguishable from those cast by Senate Democrats.

This matters because Idaho could remove the sales tax on groceries and offer broad property tax relief with more restrained spending growth. We could go beyond slightly reducing the top income tax rate, which was the only major tax relief from the 2022 session. 

In 2021, Agenbroad voted for Senate Bill 1204, the bill that accepted federal American Rescue Plan Act money. It says, “ARPA funds are borrowed from our grandchildren. To the extent allowable under law, the state should make long-range investments with ARPA funds that will benefit our grandchildren.” 

Notwithstanding the language Agenbroad voted for with this bill, he voted in the 2022 session to use ARPA funds for bonuses with SB1404 and for arts grants with SB1391. Borrowing money from our grandchildren to fund bonuses and arts projects hardly sounds like long-range investments. And it’s certainly not conservative. 

You see, until IFF started reviewing the records of legislators vote by vote, politicians like Agenbroad could make any claims they wanted because they defined themselves on the campaign trail as they saw fit. 

Agenbroad believes IFF, in disclosing his voting record, is bullying him simply because he doesn’t want his constituents to know the details of the thousands of votes he has cast. 

Unfortunately the votes are cast, his record is open for review, and he can no longer cover his tracks, thanks to the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its supporters. 

Fred Birnbam serves as the Legislative Affairs Director for the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Budget bills referenced in his piece can be reviewed at IdahoSpendingIndex.com.

View Comments
  • Al says:

    Can't speak for Agenbroad, Fred, but I can share why, about 3 years ago, my view of IFF took a sharp shift. And I bet my experience mirrors Agenbroad's.
    Wayne Hoffman's constant personal attacks. Comparing COVID vaccines to Nuremburg tests. Calling people with disparate viewpoint "liars" while skirting around truth himself constantly. In multiple articles he attacks teachers, cops, and other innocent people shamelessly and inaccurately. The list goes on and on, Fred. If IFF was truly only indexing legislation, only discussing true libertarian issues, then IFF would remain an important, influential organization, and not be chased by people like Bedke, Jim Jones and others.
    You know that to be true, even if you insist IFF is "right" on the issues i am bringing up. When you constantly throw grenades at people, do you not expect them to get weary of it and start throwing some too?
    And, while youre posting this article, let me ask you a question. It's a fair question, since Hoffman has publicly called at least 6 public figures "liars" over the past few months. The Lewiston Tribune reported in February that IFF donations did NOT go down in 2020, as Hoffman has publicly stated
    Remember that he used that as justification for IFF accepting federal handouts, er, i mean low interest loans. He said govt lockdowns resulted in less donations to IFF. But the Tribune says Marc Johnson "pored" over IFF's tax returns for several years and saw that 2020 donations were the highest over 4 years.
    Who is correct: Johnson or Hoffman?

    • Bobby W says:

      Nice try, Al. I directly challenged Wayne to answer this, as you know. His buddy Fred won't rat him out. Easier to ridicule others than to stand in front of a mirror once in a while.

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      Why don't you read the piece on Agenbroad and ask me questions on the piece? Because you don't seem to understand that IFF's posture is in response to the leftward movement of the establishment. If my data is wrong, call me out on that. Don't bring up other things. Agenbroad attacked us and championed his record and I pushed back. Stick to the article please.

      • Al says:

        You've defended Wayne when he's called out others as liars, correct? If he's the one lying, why should we bother to read "data" from an untrustworthy source? I have no direct reason to mistrust you, Fred, but the president of your organization casts a shadow over the trustworthiness of his subordinates. Isn't it the same kind of logic IFF uses when it challenges educational administrators and imputes those claims to the educators themselves?

        See the connection? What say you about the pertinent claims made against Wayne?

      • Al says:

        Fred, my comments here are entirely relevant to the issues that Agenbroad brought up in the article you reference, whether you want to squarely address them or not.
        He attacked IFF's truthfulness. "Truth and civility, even when we disagree, is the foundation of who we are." Do you agree with him on that?
        He stated he shared concerns with IFF about its "bullying, manipulation, and fear mongering" and "They responded by attacking me through social media and mailers, spreading lies, misinformation, and other attempts of character assassination."
        He concluded his article by saying, "I adhere to these values every day because I represent the people of Nampa and District 13...not a lobbyist group. That's accountability, why spin up lies about it?"
        Huh...truthfulness isn't relevant to this conversation????
        Your response to him indicates you either believe he's really just upset with your indexing system (or, in other words, you disbelieve he really means what he said about IFF lying) or you'd rather the reader doesn't look into the heart of what Agenbroad brought up.
        Seems the latter, to me, since you don't want me to bring it up either.

      • Bobby W says:

        Fred, Al is correct here. And let me add.
        Al has pointed out in Anna Miller and Hoffman articles that IFF has shifted away from declaring our schools contain CRT curriculum. IFF now insistS it's pedagogy that is the concern.
        Thats a confession Idaho schools' content isnt the problem, but saying it's the method and manner of teaching that is "indoctrinating" our students. Correct so far, right, Fred?
        Well, Agenbroad was criticizing the manner and method of IFF and its bill-scoring system. Or, we could say, Agenbroad criticizes IFF's pedagogy

        Your article doesn't defend that. You defend your content, the bill-scoring system. Like the curriculum.

        Just another duplicitous article from IFF. Trying to have it both ways. More accusations thrown at people and refusal to confront your own hypocrisies.

        • Al says:

          Spot on Bobby W. Agenbroad wasnt complaining about IFF's index, he was complaining about IFF's methodology.
          Birmbaugh has no response to Agenbroad's claims of IFF's dishonesty, apparently.
          Good luck playing for the Rams next season, we will miss you on the Seahawks. 🙂

          • Fred Birnbaum says:

            Bobby/AL, nice try guys wide of the mark as usual. You keep insisting that I didn't respond to Agenbroad's claims of dishonesty, spreading lies, etc. Funny, but while Agenbroad made assertions he didn't offer evidence of us spreading lies for example, he just made an assertion. In my article which you apparently didn't read closely, I provided facts, which can't be refuted because they are numbers from the state's own database:
            "When Agenbroad started in the Legislature in 2017, Idaho’s all-funds budget appropriation was $7.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18). For FY23, the appropriations that Agenbroad voted for total $12.9 billion. That is a 63.3% increase in 5 years."

            "One of the biggest drivers of the huge growth in spending has been the Medicaid budget. Agenbroad voted for the FY18 appropriation of $2.285 billion and for the FY23 appropriation of $4.045 billion, a 77% increase in five years and a staggering compounded annual increase of 12.1%. And he voted for every Medicaid budget increase each year."

            Sorry guys, but you are not worth any further of my time. Our criticism of his record (apart from any rating, just his actual votes on spending) support our criticism of him.

          • Al says:

            I'll give up, Fred. You are impervious to moral persuasion. I had persisted with you only because I thought there was, if not some ability to think outside the box of IFF walls, at least view things objectively to discern what conduct is right or wrong.
            You always respond by ignoring the actual claims of conduct and just regurgitate numbers. Apparently you don't disagree with Agenbroad's assertions that IFF did in fact attack him personally through social media, you just think it's justified.
            And you don't deny Hoffman lied publicly when he stated donations were down and IFF was forced financially to take federal loans because the govt "forced" IFF to do so, you just believe he was justified in lying.

            Sorry, Fred, but you are not worth any further of my time either. My criticism of Hoffman's record support my criticism of him.

            I just hope the public at large reading this understands what a loss it is to our society that conservative values have gotten mucked up so much in boorish behavior by Giddings' doxxing; McGeachin, well, I'd get carpal tunnel typing about her; Tammy Nichols' FB postings of violent memes, Dorothy Moon's baseless claims of CRT curriculum in pre-kindergarten materials and like Grima Wormtongue, is IFF persuading them all to act like that,
            There's a better way. Agenbroad didn't mind the "old IFF", it's the boorish, dishonest IFF that he decries. As do I.

          • Fred Birnbaum says:

            Just because I didn't catalogue and dispute every point that you made means that I agree with any of your assertions about Wayne or anything. You are a victim of confirmation bias who can't see that. Bye!

          • Al says:

            Do you not read your colleagues articles, Fred? Let me school you on the art of jujitsu debating.

            Emri Moore in Sept '21 stated Mayor Mclean is "on record" as supporting CRT because at a conference she did not attend a breakout session and seize the "opportunity" to denounce CRT.

            I have given you the "opportunity" to denounce Agenbroad's claims. By Emri Moore's logic that means you support Agenbroad's claims. Do you denounce Emri's logic? And if so has IFF apologized to Mclean? No? I didnt think so, Fred.

            Just like Mclean, you dont "catalogue and dispute" every issue. Thats unfair of me to do that to you, right? Illogical, right?

            Do you not see how i am only using the logic of IFF against you?

            If you think it's frustrating to argue against me, imagine how the rest of the sane world feels.

            Reader, let me address you now. Fred hates the logic i used on him. I dont blame him. Imagine being the target of IFF. How that ridiculous logic is used by them, unapologetically, against their targets. Research and think through what IFF says and seek the truth, my friends. Their methodology, well...enough said

          • Fred Birnbaum says:

            Al, it is very simple. Your opinions really don't matter to me. I don't hate the logic you used; I just don't want to spend time on you. I have too many other important things to do.

          • Bobby W says:

            Fred, looks like Al got you tied up and confused by using IFF "logic" against you! It's too bad you have "more important things to do" than protect the integrity of IFF. But, I guess, that does require a substantial amount of time commitment....

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