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.
Bill description: House Bill 750 appropriates $92,854,000 and 616.10 full-time positions to the Idaho State Police for the 2023 fiscal year.
There is one line item that is objectionable in this budget, it is for 13 full-time positions and $2.9 million of General and Dedicated Funds for a Capitol Protective Services Unit.
Currently five officers are assigned to this unit, which includes three executive protection officers. This request would expand the staff by 13 for a total of 18 positions.
Eight additional officers were first assigned to the Capitol, using CARES funds, in FY21. This was followed by a one-time appropriation in FY22.
This line item would make this an ongoing program. The concerns are as follows:
While the officers would also provide security beyond the Capitol, it is hard to justify these staffing levels when the Legislature is not in session and activity at the Capitol diminishes tremendously.
Protests within and outside the building do occur, but there is no ongoing threat that would justify year-round staffing levels this high.
Officers are highly trained, and it is questionable whether this is the best use of their expertise, as opposed to traffic safety, drug interdiction and criminal investigation.
While the ISP is a friendly, reassuring and professional presence at the Capitol, these highly trained men and women could be better used in what they were primarily trained for.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.