Bill Description: House Bill 153 requires a separate appropriation bill for each public university.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?
House Bill 153 stipulates that the Legislature must review and approve each public university’s budget separately. Separate university budgets increase accountability and transparency by allowing the Legislature to reward universities that stick to their core mission. Similarly, the Legislature can penalize universities that are not following their core missions. According to the Idaho State Board of Education, the core mission for institutions of higher education includes protecting academic freedom in research, teaching and learning for the purpose of the “advancement of truth” and serving the “common good.” Each public university in Idaho behaves differently and has different financial needs. Therefore, each university should be judged based on its own merit and needs. Currently, the budgets for public schools are separated into 6 separate bills, health and human services is separated into 11 bills, the Law and Justice Department has at least 5 separate bills, and community colleges have 5 separate bills, while public universities are rolled into a single budget bill. By separating out university budgets into four separate appropriation bills, House Bill 153 allows for the same level of transparency and accountability for universities budget-setting as is applied to other public institutions.