The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add some important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. As we look at the budget, we consider the following issues:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Have budget-writers reviewed existing outlays to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate adding new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are truly objectionable or legitimate and worthy of support.
Bill Description: FY22, Division of Financial Management, additional funds from American Rescue Plan Act
Idaho’s allocation of the ARPA funds to the state is over $1 billion. There will be a number of appropriations forthcoming, drawing money from this $1 billion plus fund.
This particular appropriation is very general and provides $50 million to the Division of Financial Management (not H&W or other health and safety related agencies) for unanticipated Covid related costs in FY22 - meaning after July 1, 2021.
According to the description, the funds could be used for, but not limited to: vaccine distribution and management, PPE, communications, public safety and related technology needs. If the definition appears broad, the phrase, but “but not limited to,” means practically anything that DFM deems to be Covid related. This is a bridge too far in our view; $50 million, for a financial management agency for unspecified future Covid costs.