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: FY21 and FY 22, Idaho State Police additional Capitol and Supreme Court security detail
The Idaho State Police presence was increased for the 2021 legislative session. Thankfully nothing happened that required this extra presence. In fairness this is an observation in hindsight.
However, now the House Speaker and the Senate President Tempore have issued a formal request in the form of a joint letter to maintain a heightened level of security at both the Capitol and the Supreme Court for all of FY22; e.g. through June 30, 2022. Even when the legislature is not in session. Even though there is no specific threat.
The cost is very high, $1.7 million for FY22 to rotate 8 state troopers from their regular duties in the field throughout Idaho, to the Capitol. This appropriation would come from General Fund dollars and would include per diem, lodging, mileage and overtime shift costs. The security detail would consist of 5 for the capitol and 3 for the supreme court. However the troopers would also provide security services as needed for all Capitol Mall facilities.
The nature of security is that there are always trade-offs and these troopers will be pulled from other field duties. As one member of JFAC noted, it is very expensive to rotate non-resident troopers and cover their meals and temporary living expenses. If this policy change were to become permanent it would likely require hiring additional troopers rather than covering the costs to rotate troopers.
(The additional funds needed to close out FY21 are $30k and are not reviewed and rated separately).