The workforce development program was formerly a line item in the Department of Labor budget. For Fiscal Year 2018, this line item was appropriated $2.5 million.
From page 6-145 of the Fiscal Year 2021 LBB: “The requirements, goals, and objectives of the Workforce Development Council include: 1) increase public awareness of and access to career education and training opportunities; 2) improve the effectiveness, quality, and coordination of programs and services designed to maintain a highly skilled workforce; 3) provide for the most efficient use of federal, state, and local workforce development resources; 4) fulfill the requirements of the State Workforce Investment Board as set forth in the Workforce Opportunity and Innovation Act (WIOA); and 5) develop and oversee procedures, criteria, and performance measures for the Workforce Development Training Fund.”
The Workforce Development Training Fund has existed since 1996. It is funded with 3 percent of the unemployment insurance taxes paid by employers. In 2018, the Legislature put the fund in a separate appropriation with House Bill 432. Since that time the agency has seen its appropriation balloon. Additionally, the appropriation for FY20 was $8.5 million and the request for FY21 is more than 50% greater, at $12.9 million.
The increased appropriations for job training is occuring at a time when there are more job openings than unemployed people in the state. The Workforce Development Training Fund, by design, picks winners and losers,and invites complaints of cronyism. But with unemployment so low, it also has a deleterious impact in the economy, forcing businesses already starved of employees to have to compete against other employers that receive government subsidies via the fund.
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The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
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? Does the budget examine existing spending 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 the addition of 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 sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.