Bill Description: House Bill 443 sets up a fund to facilitate the state spending many millions of dollars to move government school employees onto the state insurance plan.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?
House Bill 443 creates Section 67-5771A, Idaho Code, to establish the "public school health insurance participation fund," which is intended to facilitate one-time spending of $75.5 million to transition government school employees onto the state insurance plan. The bill language states that the fund is continuously appropriated, “for a public school to buy into the state’s medical and dental group insurance plan.” What this means is that to access this money, schools must sign onto the state plan with just one vendor, Blue Cross. This is a funnel to the state’s single plan administrator, otherwise, districts can not access this pot of money.
Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?
House Bill 443's fiscal note attempts to obfuscate the purpose of the bill by noting that the related appropriations will take place in separate legislation. According to the Office of Group Insurance, Idaho contributes about $250 million for medical coverage for state employees and their families. The starting point for the state assuming financial responsibility for school district health care is a $105 million line item discretionary appropriation that the Governor tied to this fund. Assuming a modest 4% annual increase, this $105 million in increased insurance costs has the potential to cost Idaho taxpayers at least $1.26 billion in additional spending over the next decade.
House Bill 443 repeals Section 33-1004J, Idaho Code, dealing with “leadership premiums,” which were paid to some instructional and pupil service staff employees under certain conditions. This repeal is estimated to reduce General Fund spending by $19.7 million in FY 2023.
Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments?
Government schools already consume the lion's share of tax revenue in Idaho, and this revenue comes primarily from the income, sales, and property taxes that Idahoans pay. Transitioning government school employees onto the state insurance plan has the potential to increase spending by at least $1.26 billion over the next decade. This significant increase in spending cannot be supported without increasing tax collections above what they would be without this additional spending.
Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth?
House Bill 443 has the potential to facilitate a massive wealth transfer of at least $1.26 billion over the next decade to employees of government schools. This is in addition to the billions of taxpayer dollars already allocated to them over the same period.