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Explained: How Gov. Little sidestepped the Legislature to fund COVID testing in schools

Explained: How Gov. Little sidestepped the Legislature to fund COVID testing in schools

Fred Birnbaum
August 19, 2021
Fred Birnbaum
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August 19, 2021

Idaho Gov. Brad Little announced in an August 12 press release that he is directing $30 million to expand COVID-19 testing in Idaho K-12 schools. 

Wait a minute: Didn’t the Legislature, specifically the Idaho House of Representatives, reject this very appropriation? Yes. The House voted down Senate Bill 1210 on April 27 on a 28-41 vote. That bill would have appropriated $40.3 million to test K-12 students for COVID-19.

Among the reasons for rejecting the testing were the costs and the lack of a plan. Some legislators were also concerned about potential student medical privacy issues. 

So, what happened? Doesn’t the Legislature appropriate money, not the governor? In normal times that would be the case. But COVID-19 has opened a Pandora's box of borrowed and printed federal dollars. 

Although the Legislature rejected direct funding of K-12 COVID-19 testing, the governor had two other options to pay for this testing. 

Senate Bill 1173 was the appropriation bill that funded the Division of Public Health Services. At the time of the bill’s introduction, the Idaho Freedom Foundation voiced concerns about the 54 percent increase over the prior year’s appropriation that this bill provided. The increase was driven by federal relief money. There was a single budget  line item, titled “COVID Relief Act,” that provided $67.9 million to this agency. These are the funds the governor tapped into to provide K-12 COVID-19 testing. 

Believe it or not, Gov. Little also could have used yet another source of funds for this testing. House Bill 370 provided $50 million to the Division of Financial Management from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The bill’s fiscal note language was deliberately vague: “The types of uses for this appropriation include, but are not limited to, vaccine distribution and management, personal protective equipment, communications, public safety, and related technology needs.” The phrase “not limited to” is the catch all phrase.

Why should Idahoans be concerned? Because this is not just about a disease. It is about a reordering of fiscal policies and priorities. According to the Peterson Foundation, over $18 billion has flowed into Idaho governments, businesses, and individuals since the pandemic began. That amounts to more than $10,000 per person, which is about double what the legislature appropriated, from all sources of funds, before the pandemic. 

The federal government is shoving money that has been borrowed from our grandkids into every conceivable pocket. Cities, counties, and state agencies have every incentive to spend what they can. That includes testing every K-12 student for COVID-19, even though not a single person in Idaho under the age of 18 years old has died from it.

Another effect of all of this money flowing into Idaho is inflation — too much money chasing too few goods. We all see it everyday in the things we buy. Unfortunately, much of the money hasn’t been spent by the various cities, counties, and agencies. And this doesn’t even take into account the infrastructure bill that just passed the U.S. Senate. That would provide Idaho with over $2 billion more funds — again all borrowed from your grandkids. 

Just imagine the mischief and cronyism that will ensue from that. The K-12 COVID-19 testing expense is only the beginning of the fiscal incontinence that is coming to Idaho. 

View Comments
  • Dave says:

    Is there any chance that Idaho Freedom Foundation or someone you know can break down the distribution to county and city level so that we can get after our elected officials?

    • Concerned Idahoan says:

      Hopefully you all know that this isn’t about covid but a much bigger deep state, global plan. Little is just a willing stooge for them. I wonder what he has been promised? The legislators need to ask for a full forensic audit of Idaho’s elections. All of his power grabs don’t pass the smell test. In order to save Idaho Little and the RINOS must go. Investigate before you vote for.

    • Guest says:

      Good question. Don't let any City or countyoff the hook!

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      Some of that information is available now, but a full accounting will take a while because much of the money has not been spent. If you send me an email I can send you what I have. [email protected]

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      Some of that information is available now. Send me an email and I can reply with what I have. [email protected]. Much of the information we have will not be complete at this point.

    • Rene B says:

      Still waiting for an answer. Yes, that is what’s needed!

  • Marilyn says:

    Little is crossing so many lines. Last week he visited Nampa High School to lecture students on getting the innoculation, asserting 98% of the hospitalizations are the unvaccinated. Talk about misinformation! Just what are his motivations for pushing so heavily on this bizarre agenda?

    • Mark Arrowood says:

      So what is the real hospitalization rate for unvaccinated?

    • Claudette smith says:

      We need to start telling these people if they don’t stop lying to our children and grandchildren saying it’s been tested which it has not and the animals they tested it on all died! Along with no children under 18 died in Idaho! They don’t need testing! He needs to step back or we will help anyone who has shot and heard Idaho’s health departments add and believe it won’t hurt you, has bad reaction such as blood clots and all other horrific reactions will be sued for their care and more!

  • Idahoan says:

    Little needs to be impeached!

  • Rick says:

    Is there any way we can move the election up to next week?

  • Kathy says:

    Yep, the Governor is all in with the Covid Cash. If he follows the Covid-fund spending as directed by the Feds, he'll continue to get more money for the state...and for his cronies?? Disgusting. Thank you Fred, for your excellent article exposing yet again the stealth of our NON-transparent governor.
    Perhaps our legislators could use the "not limited to" monies already sent to the state to finance a state-wide paper (postcard?) mailed to all (weekly, daily?) with FACTS relating to these federal monies, federal control, hospital monies gained by instituting all of their covid policies, legislation, etc. And reward businesses and schools that do not play the covid-fear games!

    • James King says:

      Just like so many of them. Idaho has remained one of the best conservative states, while most of the US has been consumed by corrupt wokeism…. No thanks to Little, Riche and the other fake conservatives. It’s disgusting.

  • KJ says:

    Its simple. The man has been compromised. Impeach his ass.

    • James King says:

      I hope & pray we have a chance of getting him out.

    • Claudette smith says:

      I agree, they forget they work for us! Including Simpson, Risch who both voted for Democrats info structure bill with Romney and 18 others traitors. We can’t let them start thinking they can do what ever They want!

  • Bob S says:

    PCR testing probably which is useless! Why test a population that has virtually 100% chance of no complications? Only those with severe comorbidities in this age group have been affected. We are lied to constantly.

  • Dan Foreman says:

    Thanks Fred for an informative article. Once again our non transparent Governor shows his penchant for doing what the feds want while he gorges on their big dollars. Little is no leader. He has demonstrated his repeated lack of respect for the Constitution and his love of gutter politics, as he panders to his cronies. He’s a lousy Governor, and the sooner he’s gone the better.

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      Dan, thanks for your kind words. Getting our arms around all of the Covid spending will be a huge task. Everything we learned as a country about fiscal prudence and delayed gratification is out the window.

  • Janet says:

    Doesn't it make sense that if a student is having "flu like" symptoms, his/her parents would get them tested? Why is this the school's job? Why are we, yet again, taking money from the feds. We need to get off the government's teat! I'm also concerned about the $10,000 per person in Idaho monies. I didn't see any of that! Oh, wait. I'm retired and living off measly Social Security. Why would I need any of that! (shaking my "old" head).

    • Mark Arrowood says:

      Why would it not be the schools job to be one of the first lines of defense for the well-being of your child. Your child spends 30+ hours a week with numerous other children. One sick child can spread to others. Why wouldn’t the school test that child?

      What $10,000 do you speak of?

  • Keith Newberry says:

    Not surprised. Too bad the recall didn't get enough signatures. Is it too late to try again?

  • Erica says:

    I wonder...
    What level of abuse would lead to violence against the (unelected, voting machine installed) officials in this state.
    I'm tempted to think there is nothing the cowardly citizens of this would not hang their heads and accept. We are way past the point where violence was the only answer

  • The Right Party says:

    Are you people finally waking up to the corruption in your own Idaho government. Far too many have been fooled by the title Republican. Republican can no longer be used to pass as ok with most Idahoans. Either we wake up or we will be taken over by the Left's agenda. They want complete control over us and tell us how to live our lives. Time for a petition to recall the Governor and his cronies. Freedom is not free and must be fought for or it will be taken away!

  • Lynda says:

    Little is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Hopefully Idahoans will remember at the ballot box! Out he goes!

  • Mark Hand says:

    Great info Fred. Semper FI.

  • Mark Arrowood says:

    I do admire the IFF and their willingness to kill children so to gain that small iota of perceived freedoms.

    I’ll never understand your governmental philosophy. You call yourselves conservative yet you’re the farthest thing from it. You’re actually closer to anarchism which you appear to despise. Again, I’ll never understand.

    • Fred Birnbaum says:

      Mark, did you read what I actually wrote. The Gov. violated the intent of the legislature and they appropriate money not the Governor. This has nothing to do with your opinion of the necessity of testing.

    • kj says:

      You don't understand because you bought into the lie about covid to start with. You will never understand because you are incapable of performing your own unbiased research. You rely on others. Your a lemming so to speak.

  • Guest says:

    Mind blowing considering Idaho Code § 39-4801, 4802. Updated July 1st. That’s to much power to allow the Government to make laws and break laws without any accountability held. The Government’s Leadership needs obey the laws just like the citizens do.

  • Catherine Brooks says:

    Thank you Fred for another great article to keep us informed. Are these the same Covid-19 tests the CDC said are not reliable; because the Covid-19 virus cannot be differentiated from a regular flu or cold thus resulting in a lot of false positives? The curse of receiving Federal money taken from taxpayers and future taxpayers. Little has to go 2022.

  • Dave says:

    Quantitative bio-easing... All about the money! The largest transfer of debt in history.

  • Rene B says:

    Man we can’t get rid of this Governor fast enough. These so called conservatives get in office & keep flipping on us. Are they being bought by lobbyists, Soros, China? We need to elect people according to biblical standards Exodus 18:21. Those who fear God, love truth & are not covetous. Who can find such a person???

  • Joyce says:

    Hummm...I heard on the news about 3 or 4 weeks ago, they are trying to get a test that can not differentiate Covid from the flu. So, that tells me that test is of no actual benefit. Why waste the money? We are being taxed enough already.

  • kj says:

    The solution is a radical new governor that not only will reverse this insanity but prosecute these scum bags working under color of law.

  • FreedomFighter says:

    We don't need Biden bucks here... they are going to ruin our state!!! Stop pushing "Clot Shots" into people's bodies. Anyone pushing them will be held responsible for the damage and death they cause

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