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House Bill 765 – Judicial Branch, Appropriations FY25

House Bill 765 – Judicial Branch, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
April 1, 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.

Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth

Rating: -3

Bill Description: House Bill 765 appropriates $97,426,500 and 413.00 full-time positions to the Judicial Branch for fiscal year 2025. This budget combines appropriations for Court Operations, Guardian Ad Litem, and the Judicial Council.

ANALYST NOTE: This budget is an adjusted version of the budget proposed in House Bill 716, which failed in the Senate. House Bill 765 removes $288,200 in personnel costs, compared to the previous budget, to lower the salaries of new FTPs requested. The rating for this legislation is identical to that seen in House Bill 716.

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.)? 

This legislation appropriates $6.2 million, along with 6.00 new FTPs, for court technology support. This would be used to bolster declining revenues in the Court Technology Fund. It was noted in the budget hearing for the Judicial Branch that the balance of  the fund would run out in the 2025 fiscal year.

It would seem such a large appropriation would be necessary to extricate the Judicial Branch from a precarious financial position. However, the Legislature should apply some skepticism toward the branch’s financial management. Virtually none of the $19,990,500 previously appropriated for court technology upgrades and restoration have been spent in the last two years. The Legislature also appropriated $1,516,200 in additional funds to support court technology upgrades and staff in the 2024 fiscal year. 

Given these large investments the state already made in court technology, an additional appropriation would be wasteful.


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 maintenance budget for the Judicial Branch of $88,474,300, growing it from the base by 19.5% over the last three years. This rate is higher than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures over the same period.


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?

This legislation perpetuates a considerable expansion of personnel within the Judicial Branch over the last few years. House Bill 765 includes a request for 6.00 new FTPs for court technology support and 5.00 new FTPs for administrative support.

This is only the latest expansion of staff within the Judicial Branch. In the 2024 fiscal year, the Legislature appropriated 3.00 personnel and $526,200 for court technology support. This is in addition to the 7.00 new FTPs that were added to ensure that federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act would go toward court technology support and updates in response to an increased need for virtual court settings.

The Legislature also appropriated 4.00 FTPs for administrative support, at a cost of $410,400, as recently as the 2023 fiscal year.

The Judicial Branch, though it is the smallest of the three branches of Idaho’s government, is rapidly expanding. The new personnel contained in this request are merely the latest in its persistent, and arguably unwarranted, growth.


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