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 769 appropriates $129,984,300 and 168 full-time positions to the Department of Water Resources for the 2023 fiscal year.
This appropriation uses over $100 million of ARPA money and some might argue that water infrastructure projects do benefit our grandchildren. These uses are better than some other uses of ARPA funds.
However while this budget increases spending by 5,761% from federal funds, it also has a 9.5% increase in General Funds. These General Funds are used to add 14 full-time positions to this budget, a 9.1% staffing increase and likely the largest percentage increase of any agency. These positions are largely paid for with General Funds, so these positions added to deal with the influx of federal funds for water projects represent a major increase in the agency’s staff that will be difficult to scale back once the ARPA spending is complete.
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