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House Bill 692 – State Board of Education, Special Programs, Appropriations FY25

House Bill 692 – State Board of Education, Special Programs, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 4, 2024

The Idaho Spending Index serves to provide a fiscally conservative perspective on state budgeting while providing an unbiased measurement of how Idaho lawmakers apply these values to their voting behavior on appropriations bills. Each bill is analyzed within the context of the metrics below. They receive one (+1) point for each metric that is satisfied by freedom-focused policymaking and lose one (-1) point for each instance in which the inverse is true. The sum of these points composes the score for the bill.

Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth

Rating: -2

Bill Description: House Bill 692 appropriates $35,831,400 and 50.07 full-time positions to State Board of Education, Special Programs for fiscal year 2025.

Does this budget enact powers and activities that extend beyond the proper role of government? Conversely, does this budget fulfill the proper role of government?

The Special Programs Division of the Office of the State Board of Education is composed of several, smaller substituent programs. Among these are several programs that are egregiously outside the proper role of government. These include Tech Help and the Idaho Small Business Development Centers (SBDC).

Tech Help provides manufacturing consulting to local businesses and companies throughout the state. The SBDCs provide more general small business consulting services. These programs occupy a role that could otherwise be fulfilled by the free market. Additionally, these programs discriminate against businesses based on the immutable characteristics of their owners. In this way, programs like this allow the government to pick winners and losers based on a preordained agenda. This prevents the market from dictating which services and products are valuable to our communities.

These programs are squarely outside the proper role of government.


Does this budget incur any wasteful spending among discretionary funds, including new line items? Conversely, does this budget contain any provisions that serve to reduce spending where possible (i.e. base reductions, debt reconciliation, etc.)? 

House Bill 692 sustains an ongoing $218,900 for technical assistance grants. These funds are federally sourced from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide business development grants process to “very small businesses (VSBs), socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI), and minority-owned businesses in the state.” This funding will also be used to provide one new full-time position for a grants manager position.

This is a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars because these funds are being allocated based on the immutable characteristics of the business owner. This is a discriminatory policy that does not distribute funds based on merit. Furthermore, these funds being sourced from ARPA makes it particularly inappropriate to create this new entitlement program with these temporary funds. When Idaho accepted these funds in the 2021 legislative session, they asserted that these funds should be used to directly benefit our grandchildren since they are saddled with the debt incurred by this federal spending. This does not include creating new entitlement programs to subsidize private businesses.


Is the maintenance budget inappropriate for the needs of the state, the size of the agency, or the inflationary environment of the economy? Conversely, is the maintenance budget appropriate given the needs of the state and economic pressures?

This legislation confirms the maintenance budget for the Division of Special Programs of $34,895,000 growing from the base by 12.1% over the last three years. This rate is six points lower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating acceptable growth in the cost to maintain the agency.


Does the budget grow government through the addition of new permanent FTPs or through funding unlegislated efforts to create new or expanded entitlement programs? Conversely, does this budget reduce the size of government staff and programs except where compelled by new legislation?

Due growth constraints placed on agency budgets by the Governor this year, the agency is adding several new FTPs piecewise. This results in only 1.28 new FTPs added to the staff, but this number would continue to grow in the coming years. Nonetheless, this is a steady expansion of the agency’s size.

Some of these new positions include half of a position for a new administrative specialist for the Forest Utilization Research program, 0.19 FTPs for a database manager for the Geological Survey program, another 0.50 FTPs to add another rural small business consultant, and 0.09 FTPs for year two of adding a Studio\BLU Director position.


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