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 755 is the FY23 Appropriation for the Department of Lands
Analysis: The Department of Lands (DOL) does vital work for the people of Idaho. The concern is that the budget continues to grow year after year at a rapid pace.
In FY16, DOL had 286 employees and $44 million in actual expenditures. For FY23, the request is for 349 employees and $81.4 million. The FY23 request represents a 22% increase over FY22 and the addition of 10.6 FTP’s.
The bill includes a FY22 supplemental for $80 million as a transfer to the Fire Suppression Deficiency Fund. This fund is used to true-up the costs of fire-fighting on wildlands. However the ending balance shortfall is only anticipated to be $40 million in this fund. This is clearly excessive.
The 15 new line items include a $7 million line item for work on abandoned mines, part of a 113% increase in the use of federal funds.