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 351 appropriates $354,1547,700 and 2,170.85 full-time positions to the Department of Corrections for fiscal year 2024.
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.)?
House Bill 351 would provide $750,000 in funding for transitional housing for inmates that were just released from the system. This line item was not requested by the agency, but added by the governor in his recommendation to the legislature. This funding would provide subsidized housing for inmates due to the increased cost in the rental market. This would provide for taxpayer-subsidized housing when low income and transition housing options already exist.
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 Department of Corrections at $346,463,200, growing from the base by 16.2% over the last three years. This rate is approximately equal to the rate of inflation over the same period.
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?
Federal funding constitutes less than 1% of the Department’s total budget and constitutes an even smaller share of personnel cost support. Based on this information, the Department of Corrections is not dependent on federal funding to sustain their operations and programs.
Does the budget grow government through the addition of new permanent FTPs or through funding unlegislated efforts to create new or expanded entitlement programs? Conversely, does this budget reduce the size of government staff and programs except where compelled by new legislation?
It would also appear that the department is growing its staff through the addition of the Correctional Alternative Placement Program. This program was originally a contracted service that the department will be taking in-house in the 2024 fiscal year. This would make approximately 79 full-time positions, state supported roles.
This legislation would also add 2 new full time positions for food service staffing. Staffing increases have been a trend in the department since the 2018 fiscal year with 115 new positions. The addition of these two new positions would continue the expansion of government.
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 351 provides $1.6 million for an expanded drug testing program within the Department of Corrections, Division of Community Corrections. This is to combat the use of fentanyl among parolees and purchase safety equipment for parole officers. This is not an emergency expense that would fit better as a line item for the 2024 fiscal year. This is not an appropriate use of a supplemental request.
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