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 276 appropriates $2,933,900 and 14.00 full-time positions to Idaho Public Television (IPTV) for fiscal year 2024.
Does this budget enact powers and activities that extend beyond the proper role of government? Conversely, does this budget fulfill the proper role of government?
Idaho Public Television provides both coverage of state affairs including Idaho in Session and proceedings of the Idaho Supreme Court. They also provide support for the Idaho emergency alert system. These operations are arguably necessary aspects of the role that IPTV plays in keeping Idahoans informed about the activities of their government.
Funded through monies provided by the Friends of Idaho Public Television account, the agency provides syndicated content and weekly news that does not exclusively serve the role of making government activities transparent to Idahoans. Critically, much of this content and news reporting has a decidedly partisan slant that is not appropriate for the content of a non-partisan state agency. These activities do not align with the proper role of government.
Does this budget incur any wasteful spending among discretionary funds, including new line items? Conversely, does this budget contain any provisions that serve to reduce spending where possible (i.e. base reductions, debt reconciliation, etc.)?
The budget for Idaho Public Television is split into two components: monies sourced from the General Fund and those sourced from donations made to the Friends of Idaho Public Television Account — better known as the “Friends Account.” As of the 2023 fiscal year, funds from the Friends Account were continuously appropriated, leaving only general fund dollars under the direct oversight of the Legislature.
Being that the funds from the Friends Account are continuously appropriated, they are no longer directed for use as approved by the Legislature. Though the Legislature retains the right to regain the authority to directly appropriate these funds at a later date (Section 67-3514, Idaho Code), the majority of the members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee must vote to suspend the budget law exemption to view these funds. This effectively hides these funds from scrutiny and debate. The Legislature would be unable to determine what would be a valid expenditure for the General Fund to support if these funds are not directly appropriated. Being that these funds make up 71% of the overall budget for IPTV in the 2024 fiscal year, this obscures most of the activities within this state agency from the public view. This is not a transparent use of funds and prevents the Legislature from curbing waste in the General Fund.
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?
House Bill 276 appropriates General Fund contributions to support the maintenance budget for this agency at $2,916,200, growing by only 10.4% from the base over three years. This is about 3.5 percentage points slower than the rate of inflation over the same period. Even when conducting the same calculation while including funds from the Friends Account, the rate of growth is still slower than the rate of inflation. This budget demonstrates acceptable growth over time.