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House Bill 224 — Hispanic Commission Appropriation

House Bill 224 — Hispanic Commission Appropriation

Fred Birnbaum
February 24, 2021

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: Appropriation for Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs

Rating: -1

The Commission on Hispanic Affairs was created by the Legislature in 1987. Its statutorily defined function is, among other things, to gather information and conduct studies “on problems and programs concerning Hispanic people” and “to stimulate public awareness of the problems of Hispanic people by conducting a program of public education” as well as “advise the governor, legislature and state departments and agencies of the nature, magnitude, and priorities of the problems of Hispanic people.” The statute goes on to say that the agency is to “propose new programs concerning Hispanic people to public and private agencies and evaluate for such agencies existing programs or prospective legislation concerning Hispanic people.” 

In summary, the statute appears to single out a group of people based on ethnicity in a way that is part demeaning and part pandering. It suggests that if you’re Hispanic, your “problems” need study by the government and the creation of programs in order to address those problems. The “pandering” part comes in by statutorily segregating ethnic groups as having separate priorities from the remaining population, to be addressed by a specially tasked agency of government that will create programs to address those priorities. Were the state to write similar statutes for other populations, they would be labeled as racist. 

Specific to the budget before the Legislature, there is a line item for a $20,000 Federal Smoking Cessation Grant, implying that some particular racial and ethnic group needs to be targeted for smoking cessation. 

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