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 764 appropriates $290,611,800 and 613.50 full-time positions to the Welfare Division of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare for fiscal year 2023.
The Division of Welfare serves as the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s administrative arm. This 2023 budget proposal seeks to grant more than $291 million in federal funding to the division, which would make up 83% of its budget.
Most of the federal dollars would be allocated to child care, energy, and water entitlement programs. These programs are supported by a combination of federal plans and grants, including the American Rescue Plan Act. The Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program and the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program are both entirely supported by ARPA. Both are entitlement programs that will require a new funding source within the next five years. The Child Care Assistance Program is mostly funded by ARPA and will provide money to child care facilities throughout the state and subsidized child care services for qualifying families.
When accepting ARPA funding in 2021, the Legislature made clear in Section 67-3533 of Idaho Code that these funds are borrowed from our grandchildren and should be used to benefit them. Instead, HB 764 creates new entitlement programs with temporary funding. These programs only address a symptom of a deeper problem, meaning that their need will only persist. Thus, these temporary fixes will turn into permanent entitlements that incur a cost for our grandchildren, not a benefit.
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