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 254 appropriates $4,888,400 and 6.00 full-time positions to the Office of Drug Policy for fiscal year 2024 and provides for a $1,607,600 supplemental for fiscal year 2023.
Is the maintenance budget inappropriate for the needs of the state, the size of the agency, or the inflationary environment of the economy? Conversely, is the maintenance budget appropriate given the needs of the state and economic pressures?
This legislation sets the maintenance budget for the Office of Drug Policy at $4,884,400, only growing from the base by 1.5% over the last three years. This rate is much slower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating modest growth in the cost to maintain the agency.
Does this budget perpetuate or expand state dependence on federal dollars, thereby violating principles of federalism? Conversely, does this budget actively reduce the amount of federal dollars used to balance this budget?
House Bill 254 provides for a $1.6 million supplemental federal funding provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This budget also reappropriates up to $1.4 million in unspent funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) from the 2023 fiscal year for drug abuse prevention policy initiatives. In addition to the dependency of the agency on these funds to support their programs, it appears that about half of the staff within the Office of Drug Policy are federally funded positions. In all, the agency is 92% federally dependent for the funding of its operations.
This is an excessive use of federal funds within a state agency. With such a large share of federal purse strings connected to the Office of Drug Policy, Washington, DC siphons away much of the state’s control over these issues.
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 254 also provides for a supplemental appropriation of $1.6 million for the 2023 fiscal year. These funds are federally sourced for the purpose of providing grants to local public health districts and law enforcement agencies to reduce drug abuse.
This funding request is not a fiscal emergency because the funds do not need to be liquidated by subgrantees until October 31, 2024 – after the start of the 2025 fiscal year. This does not qualify as a valid use of a supplemental appropriation.
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