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 362 is a revised version of the failed Liquor Division budget, Senate Bill 1149. It appropriates $29,491,500 and 261.00 full-time positions to the State Liquor Division for fiscal year 2024.
ANALYST NOTE: The only change made by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee was the inclusion of $448,400 in inflationary adjustments. This means that the budget is higher than the budget appropriated in Senate Bill 1149 which was defeated on the House floor. The scores for the two versions of the budget are identical.
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?
The mission of the Idaho State Liquor Division is to control the importation, distribution, sale, and consumption of distilled spirits. The state mandates that it has control over the distribution of alcohol under Article III section 26 in the Idaho Constitution.
Though the state monopoly on liquor sales is constitutional, it places an unnecessary burden on the market. Government control does not necessarily encourage responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages. This activity clearly extends beyond 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.)?
House Bill 362 appropriates $230,200 to relocate and remodel two stores. This marks the fifth consecutive year that the Liquor Division requested an appropriation to remodel stores. This is a wasteful expense because state-owned liquor stores do not need to compete with nicer private stores since they have a monopoly on the market.
This bill also appropriates $448,400 in inflationary adjustments. These adjustments were removed from the defeated version of this budget to offset the costs associated with extraneous replacement items.
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 Liquor Division at $28,743,100, growing from the base by 31.5% in the last three years. This rate is more than double what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
This large increase is likely due in part to the very large value of replacement items built into this budget. These replacement items amount to $1.3 million in costs for items that should be line items like floor scrubbers, uninterrupted power supply backups, new flooring, and window treatments. These items are inappropriate for inclusion as replacement items and arguably unnecessary or wasteful.
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?
House Bill 362 adds another full-time Human Resources Specialist to the Liquor Division before moving it over to the Division of Human Resources. This employee would be in addition to the other two already within the agency. This is a net overall increase in the size of the agency, ongoing spending, and the overall size of government.