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 763 appropriates $144,734,600 and 387 full-time positions to the DEQ for the 2023 fiscal year in addition to a FY22 supplemental.
The FY22 supplemental includes $5 million for the Confined Animal Feeding Operations improvement fund from House Bill 559. During the debate on this bill it was noted that this was an example of a public private partnership that channeled public funds to private businesses.
For FY23, this budget represents an over 101% increase in the overall budget from FY22. Much of this increase comes from Federal ARPA funds, over $73 million, including money for site clean-up and water infrastructure. Despite this being one-time funds (that can be spent over several years), 8 full time positions will be added, tied to these programs.
DEQ is another agency that has seen rapid growth in recent years. The FY16 actual expenditures were just under $50 million and while not all of the $144.7 million appropriation will be spent in FY23 (there will be carry-over), the infusion of federal dollars from ARPA is a stepping stone to a permanently enlarged DEQ.
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