The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add some important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. As we look at the budget, we consider the following issues:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Have budget-writers reviewed existing outlays to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate adding new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are truly objectionable or legitimate and worthy of support.
Bill Description: $24 million Department of Health and Welfare supplemental from COVID Relief Act for child care.
The conventional wisdom is that because this is federal money for child care, we should support the supplemental. But we should challenge the notion that this is "free money." What we are doing here is borrowing from our children and grandchildren to spend today. These same children that we are supposedly helping with this federal money will be also given the bill for this program and many others, trillions of dollars of debt on the federal credit card. For the first time in Idaho's history, the total appropriation request for Health and Human Services will exceed $4 billion (about $4.2 billion for FY22), up from $3.7 billion in FY21. A major reason for this explosion in welfare spending is that much of this is federal money and many don't see the danger in Idaho being tethered to an increasingly indebted federal government. Would legislators vote for this $24 million supplemental, which is simply described as “for the purpose of child care support,” if the money came from the General Fund and was not "free federal money"?