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House Bill 762 – State Department of Education, Appropriations FY25

House Bill 762 – State Department of Education, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 28, 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.

*This analysis was updated on April 2, 2024 to make technical corrections.

Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth

Rating: -3

Bill Description: House Bill 762 appropriates $66,113,000 and 126.50 full-time positions to the State Department of Education for fiscal year 2025.

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 762 includes various new programs that are considered wasteful.

One area of particular concern is the expansion of programs that use money from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). House Bill 762 appropriates $1,395,800 in COVID-19 relief funding for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III) for the broad purpose of “keep[ing] schools open and combat[ing] the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” It appropriates another $537,800 to combat homelessness. There is also more than $1.2 million going to fund COVID-19 relief for private schools. Finally, there is also $299,000 in funding to teach children about where their food comes from.

This smattering of programs largely has nothing to do with the intended purpose of ARPA funds. We are currently four years beyond the onset of the pandemic. Yet we are still spending these funds on the abstract goal of mitigating the effects of the pandemic. As these funds are set to sunset next year, it appears that agencies are looking for ways to use them up. The irony is that these funds are sold as a way to help our children and grandchildren. Meanwhile, we simultaneously indebt them and crush their chances of achieving financial independence under the weight of inflation.

Beyond concerns with spending funds from ARPA, there are several other programs in this budget that are wasteful. One is a texting system that would connect students with suicide prevention services that also collects data on these users. There is also another $302,000 to address underperforming charter schools, but there are no details on how these funds would better their performance moving forward.

There is an inordinate amount of trimming that would be required to remove the bloat and waste within this budget.


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 program maintenance budget for the State Department of Education of $43,882,300, growing from the base by 17.0% over the last three years. This rate is slower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating acceptable growth in the cost to maintain the agency.


Does this budget perpetuate or expand state dependence on federal dollars, thereby violating principles of federalism? Conversely, does this budget actively reduce the amount of federal dollars used to balance this budget?

This legislation appropriates $22,846,000 in federal funding to this division. This constitutes 35% of all the dollars spent in the appropriation for the 2025 fiscal year. This budget also increases the level of federal spending by nearly $5.5 million — a 32% increase in funding coming from Washington, D.C., compared to the base appropriation. 


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?

House Bill 762 seeks to add 2.50 new full-time equivalent positions to the State Department of Education at a total cost of $539,700. These positions include one full-time auditor, one North Idaho regional director, and one half-time administrator to address underperforming charter schools. These positions expand the size of government in terms of headcount and the reach of the programs they will support.


Does this budget contain hidden fund transfers or supplemental expenditures that work to enact new policy or are not valid emergency expenditures? Conversely, are fund transfers only made to stabilization funds or are supplemental requests only made in the interest of resolving valid fiscal emergencies?

This legislation contains a $2 million one-time supplemental request for fiscal year 2024. This request also has a corresponding ongoing component in the fiscal year 2025 appropriation. The goal of this request is to access new federal funds to create a program that “assists individuals with disabilities in accessing opportunities for education, vocational rehabilitation, and employment.” This is not a valid emergency expenditure that would warrant a supplemental.

 This request wastefully duplicates services. Idaho already has the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation that performs these functions and reports to the State Board of Education. The division received an appropriation for fiscal year 2025 of nearly $27 million. Adding such a new program would extend beyond the role of the State Department of Education and waste taxpayer dollars.


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