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House Bill 398 — Public School Programs Additional Appropriation

House Bill 398 — Public School Programs Additional Appropriation

Fred Birnbaum
May 5, 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: FY22 additional appropriation for Public School Children’s Programs

Rating: -1

This is one of a series of appropriation bills using the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. ARPA passed Congress without a single Republican vote in either the US House or Senate. Since ARPA passed over the objection of every Idaho member of Congress, there should be some reluctance to use these funds. However, Congressional Democrats and the President have created the perfect template; if a state legislature does not appropriate the funds they will go to other states. This is a moral hazard that could lead to endless federal borrowing. If an infrastructure bill comes forward, the same arguments will be made, we spend it or lose it.

This appropriation addresses the needs of homeless youth, yet during debate, it was pointed out that other funds can also be used to address these needs.

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