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 324 appropriates $44,748,400 and 22.00 full-time positions to the Division of Financial Management 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?
This legislation provides for $13,067,000 the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and Homeowners Assistance funding for the 2024 fiscal year. These funds were distributed to the state of Idaho through the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act. They are intended to provide support to small businesses and mortgage assistance to homeowners in response to the economic effects of the pandemic.
This legislation also requests a supplemental appropriation of $45,067,000 in funding to the SSBCI, Homeowners Assistance, and the Emergency Rental Assistance programs for the 2023 fiscal year. This brings the total amount of ARPA spending appropriated in this budget would be more than $58 million.
ARPA and the IIJA were largely partisan measures from Washington, DC, and they represented gross federal overreach and a massive surge in the national debt. These concerns were compounded by issues of state sovereignty, since the federal government is paying for new entitlement programs in Idaho on the backs of our grandchildren. This funding represents the staggering growth of Idaho’s dependence on the federal government and its reach outside of its proper role. So far, no plan has been articulated as to what will happen when these funds expire in 2026 while Idahoans are dependent on receiving this government assistance.
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 324 appropriates approximately $42 million in federal funding to the Division of Financial Management. This is nearly 91% of the agency’s total budget and is largely due to the injection of ARPA funds for rental, homeowner, and small business assistance. When looking at how its staff is funded, the agency is not heavily dependent on federal spending to sustain operations. Therefore, the increase in federal control is largely through curating these pass-through funds.
Though the agency itself is not heavily dependent on federal funds, there are still issues with so much federal funding provided in a single budget. The strings attached to these funds will not be tied to the Division of Financial Management but to the grant recipients. This type of federal control is objectionable because it leverages handouts for control over constituents.