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House Bill 733 – Community Colleges, Appropriations FY25

House Bill 733 – Community Colleges, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 24, 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 733 appropriates $64,735,200 to Idaho’s Community Colleges for fiscal year 2025.

This legislation contains appropriations for all four of Idaho’s community colleges. These include North Idaho College, College of Southern Idaho, College of Eastern Idaho, and College of Western Idaho.

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.)?

This legislation appropriates $1,829,800 as part of the operational capacity enhancement to bolster the Open Education Initiative. This request is $500,000 more than the governor’s recommendation and $900,000 more than the agency request for this line item.

The Open Education Initiative is an effort to direct programs to use open source textbooks and materials. This initiative received $1 million continuously appropriated from the 2022 fiscal year. These funds were used to pay for the state to develop its own free-to-user, open source textbooks and educational materials. These funds also went to pay professors up to $2,000 per class to use these materials. This is squarely anti-free market, as the government is replacing a good with its own, then paying customers (professors) to use them. This is an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars to thwart the private dissemination of knowledge.

It is true that textbooks are expensive, but only the government is to blame for this. All college expenses increase as the government continues to subsidize higher education  in its push for the socialist dream of free college. This includes the cost of textbooks. The solution is not more subsidization or government-funded textbooks. Rather, the solution is to reduce the amount of government money distorting the market. Doing so would lift the wrongful burden on taxpayers to fund college for others; it also would force institutions to respond to market demands.

This appropriation brings to fore questions about the proper role of government. It has yet another flaw, however: it is not necessary. A presentation from the State Board of Education this legislative session explained that only $400,000 of the $1 million from the 2022 fiscal year have been expended. If nothing else, it does not make sense to add another $900,000 in funding at this time. More funding for this program is wasteful.


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 community colleges,  at $61,985,300, growing it from the base by 26.6% in the last three years. This rate is faster than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.


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