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House Bill 387 — College and University Appropriation

House Bill 387 — College and University Appropriation

Fred Birnbaum
April 29, 2021

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: College and University, FY22 appropriation

Rating: -2

Updated Analysis: House Bill 387 replaces Senate Bill 1179, the earlier College and University budget, which failed on the House floor. While it does have a line item stripping $2.5 million in spending tied to Social Justice activities at BSU, U of I, and ISU, that falls well short of the documented amount spent on Social Justice and Critical Race Theory at Idaho’s public Universities - which is about $20 million. It should be noted that Colleges and Universities will receive over $130 million in federal dollars due to the CARES and ARPA legislation on top of other funds. 

Very troubling is that key intent language that was contained in the JFAC motion was stripped out when the final vote was taken. The section stripped out stated, “The SBOE shall verify no public funds are or will be used to support social justice ideology in student activities, clubs, events and organizations on campus. The SBOE shall submit a written report to JFAC no later than December 17, 2021.” 

This important intent language was stripped out on a 14-5 vote. The language needs to be inserted into the bill because it addresses gaps in HB 377. HB 377 does not prevent public funds from supporting social justice ideologies. 

Original Analysis: This is probably the most important budget in terms of determining the future direction of Idaho’s colleges and universities. The slide of our institutions of higher learning from institutions that instruct our young citizens in rigorous learning to social justice bastions has been well documented by the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Two detailed reports have been published documenting how far this ideology has penetrated Boise State University (BSU) and the University of Idaho. Social justice ideology, which preaches that America is fundamentally racist and unjust, has also penetrated Idaho State University and Lewis-Clark State College (LCSC). Among the many examples of it at work are the posting of Black Lives Matter materials on university websites. 

One final point, a separate budget was voted on in JFAC to provide $49 million in one-time federal COVID funds to colleges and universities. Normally this FY21 supplemental would be a separate bill. The supplemental motion was combined with the college and university budget motion to form one bill and they are therefore rated jointly.

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