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 210 provides a supplemental appropriation of $537,400 to the Child Welfare Division, of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for fiscal year 2023.
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?
House Bill 210 provides a supplemental appropriation of $537,400 for the purpose of covering operating expenditures within the Division of Child Welfare. Much of these costs are related to database maintenance. The agency claims that this supplemental reinstates a 2% rescission made to its budget in the 2021 fiscal year in response to COVID-19. The agency planned to absorb the costs for the last two fiscal years by taking from excess funds in their personnel budget. However, last year’s appropriations bill for this agency banned this practice.
The agency likely did not expect the inclusion of the restrictive intent language in their budget for the 2023 fiscal year. However, the practice of reappropriating excess employee salaries for programs is a bad budget practice. It is non-transparent and unsustainable. These reasons are likely the case for why the legislature saw the need to include this intent language in the 2023 fiscal year.
When the division was still allowed to make transfers from excess employee salaries to support their programs, the most recent amount was $335,000. The 2% rescission made in the 2021 fiscal year was $430,000. With the agency requesting $537,400 as an ongoing supplemental, it grossly exceeds the rate of inflation compared to either the employee fund transfers or the 2021 rescission. This makes it too large to be a genuine emergency request if the rationale is to recoup funds surrendered during the pandemic.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.