The Idaho Spending Index serves to provide a fiscally conservative perspective on state budgeting while providing an unbiased measurement of how Idaho lawmakers apply these values to their voting behavior on appropriations bills. Each bill is analyzed within the context of the metrics below. They receive one (+1) point for each metric that is satisfied by freedom-focused policymaking and lose one (-1) point for each instance in which the inverse is true. The sum of these points composes the score for the bill.
Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth
Bill Description: House Bill 207 provides a total of $472,200 in deficiency warrants to the Department of Agriculture, the Military Division, and the Department of Environmental Quality.
Does this budget contain hidden fund transfers or supplemental expenditures that work to enact new policy or are not valid emergency expenditures? Conversely, are fund transfers only made to stabilization funds or are supplemental requests only made in the interest of resolving valid fiscal emergencies?
Deficiency warrants are like supplementals in the sense that they exist to cover emergency impacts to an agency’s budget. However, the distinction lies in the fact that these funds are spent like an IOU by the agency, leveraging the General Fund to cover the cost upon appropriation by the Legislature. It must be declared in statute for an agency to use deficiency warrants. Not all agencies have this power. Ultimately, the use of deficiency warrants should be rare and well justified.
Two of the three deficiency warrants in HB 207 could count as valid uses of deficiency warrants. The first comes from the Department of Agriculture in the amount of $450,100 for nuisance and invasive pest control to protect Idaho’s agricultural interests. The second comes from the Military Division, Department of Emergency Management in the amount of $8,100 to mitigate an emergency hazardous materials incident. Both of these incidents are unplanned and would constitute valid uses of deficiency warrants.
The third deficiency warrant named in HB 207 provides $14,000 to the Department of Environmental Quality for a waste tire disposal incident in Jefferson County. The authority for the department to draw a deficiency warrant can be found in 39-6502(3)(a), Idaho Code. A waste tire disposal area found to not be in compliance with the Waste Tire Disposal Act can be declared a public nuisance by the respective board of county commissioners or city council. In the specific case where surface or ground water contamination is a concern, DEQ would recommend that a deficiency warrant be authorized by the Board of Examiners to fund immediate cleanup. However, there is some concern about whether the accumulation of waste tires constitutes enough of an emergency where cleanup cannot wait until funds are appropriated at the beginning of a new fiscal year.