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 354 appropriates $647.8 million to the Transportation Department 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 354 is an additional appropriation for the Transportation Department to fund projects for roads, bridges, airstrips, right-of-way, and maintenance construction projects throughout the state. Just under 38% of these funds will be appropriated as supplementals — equating to $245 million. This is an inappropriate use of a supplemental request as these large projects are not valid fiscal emergencies. The department provided no reason why these funds would need to be available with only three months left in the fiscal year.
These transfers are all from the General Fund, which is primarily funded by income, business, sales, and grocery taxes. These transfers are made from the General Fund surplus, reducing what taxpayers should have received back from paying too much to the state. Transferring these funds in the 2023 fiscal year instead of the 2024 fiscal year allows these additional expenses to be hidden from view when doing a historical analysis of the budget.