House Bill 73 — Local gov, uniform accounting

House Bill 73 — Local gov, uniform accounting

by
Fred Birnbaum
February 10, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 73 provides for uniform accounting practices and establishes a "committee on uniform accounting and transparency for local governmental entities."

Rating: -1

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 73 creates Section 67-448, Idaho Code, which establishes a seven-member "committee on uniform accounting and transparency for local governmental entities."

(-1)

Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt? Conversely, does it decrease government spending or debt?

According to the fiscal note for House Bill 73, the impact to the general fund will be $1.6 million in the first year and $1.5 million in subsequent years. It will take at least four new government employees to implement this bill.

(-1)

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

House Bill 73 will require counties, cities, urban renewal agencies, and other local districts to use uniform accounting, budgeting, and financial reporting procedures. The bill will also ensure uniform auditing of health district finances. 

(+1)

Analyst Note: The statement of purpose for this bill makes a number of return-on-investment claims, based on a Harvard Business School study that notes organizations save 10% on average through transparency. The problem is that the study is not specific to the government and we have strong counter-examples. For example, Idaho has a very detailed website Public School Finance / Departments / SDE (idaho.gov) There is no evidence that district-by-district K-12 data has resulted in any long-term savings. On a national level, The National Center for Education Statistics National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of Education, provides an amazing collection of education data going back decades. Again this comparative data has not yielded any savings, as K-12 per pupil spending, nationally, exceeds inflationary increases. Furthermore, it has been very difficult to change the property tax levy rate formula because of strong opposition from local units of government. Without the will to rein in spending by these local governments and by allowing them to lobby against reform, it is highly unlikely that transparency will reduce spending.

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