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House Bill 769 – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Shortfall, Supplemental FY24

House Bill 769 – Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Shortfall, Supplemental FY24

Niklas Kleinworth
April 3, 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: -1

Bill Description: House Bill 769 appropriates $2,700,000 to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for fiscal year 2024.

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.)? 

The Division of Vocational Rehabilitation reported to the Legislature on April 2, 2024, that it expects a $4.7 million budget shortfall for the 2024 fiscal year. The division reports that its fiscal team mistakenly tracked expenditures against available funds rather than appropriations. This led to the division overspending the authority defined in their budget.

The division is retracting some services and using $550,000 in salary savings to address some of the shortfall. This led to the $2.7 million supplemental request seen in this legislation. The division administrator, Jane Donnellan, was unable to detail how much money has been obligated for services rendered, though this amount is less than the $2.7 million requested. Appropriating this amount would be wasteful because the division would receive more than needed to cover funds already encumbered.

There is intent language included in this legislation to redirect funds appropriated in House Bill 700 for the 2025 fiscal year. The intent was to address any remaining effects of the shortfall that would be encountered in the next three months. The language, however, was very nonspecific. It only states that the new positions cannot be hired and no funds can be spent on replacement items. It provides no direction or constraints beyond these. This provision adds to waste by leaving the division to its own devices rather than subjecting it to stricter legislative oversight.

The agency indicated in its letter that it plans to set “fiscally responsible budgetary limits,” educate staff to be “good stewards of funds,” and review appropriations and cash balances monthly as part of its corrective action plan. These controls should have already been in place. Managing spending within the division’s appropriated authority should not be a foreign concept. 

The division’s record of mismanaged spending is not an appropriate justification for receiving additional taxpayer funds. The division failed to restrain itself to the confines of the actions taken by the Legislature. It should not be rewarded by receiving more spending authority.


Does this budget contain hidden fund transfers or supplemental expenditures that work to enact new policy or are not valid emergency expenditures? Conversely, are fund transfers only made to stabilization funds or are supplemental requests only made in the interest of resolving valid fiscal emergencies?

This legislation does not constitute an appropriate use of a supplemental request. The deficit within the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation was not due to an unforeseen fiscal emergency, or an unexpected change in policy. Rather, it was due to budgetary mismanagement. This is not an appropriate reason to request additional taxpayer funds through a supplemental request.


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