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 773 appropriates $139,406,100 and 773.51 full-time positions to the Department of Health and Welfare, Divisions of Child Welfare, Services for Developmentally Disabled, and Service Integration for the 2023 fiscal year, and includes a FY22 supplemental.
This appropriation represents an enormous growth in the Child Welfare Division’s staff. The request includes 24 new In-Home Case Workers. These case workers will provide in-home services that, “are geared towards ensuring the child’s safety in the home, improving overall child, adult, and family function, and supporting healthy and nurturing relationships, among other goals.” (Legislative Budget Book, page 2-17)
It is very concerning that government officials believe that they should tell adults how their families ought to function.
Finally, it should be noted that the agency requested 13 new positions and the governor increased this line item to 24 positions. There are also two carry-over positions, putting the total increase in FTP’s to 26.