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 767 appropriates $217,203,800 and 259 full-time positions to the Division of Public Health for the 2023 fiscal year in addition to a FY22 supplemental
This appropriation bill has a number of objectionable line items.
Although the appropriation is shown as only an overall increase of 5.4% form FY22, this hides the fact that since there was over $108 million in one-time expenditures in FY22, the FY23 base is $130 million and this budget adds $87 million to that base amount, with over 14 new line items of discretionary spending. And it includes ARPA funding.
The $17.6 million supplemental for FY22 uses unspent Covid funds to increase laboratory capacity. However more clarity is provided on page 2-51 of the FY23 Legislative Budget Book (LBB) as to how these funds will be spent. The immunization grant will support immunization and vaccines for children and includes, “new strategies to reach diverse populations, such as those with hesitance or high-risk.”
There is a $18.9 million line item to use federal funds, “to address health disparities in underserved communities around the state.”
The $1.08 million line for vital records modernization will facilitate sharing health statistics between Idaho and the National Centers for Health Statistics.
Finally and probably most troublesome is $1 million for Home Visiting Grants using ARPA funds to “provide services to parents and caregivers to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.”
LBB pages, 2-51 to 2-56 details the above line items and others.