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House Bill 776 - College and Universities, FY23 appropriation and FY22 Supplemental

House Bill 776 - College and Universities, FY23 appropriation and FY22 Supplemental

Fred Birnbaum
March 15, 2022

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 776 appropriates $643,047,500 and 4,749.43 full-time positions to the Colleges and Universities for the 2023 fiscal year, and includes a FY22 supplemental. 

Rating: -1

During the 2022 session, the legislature reduced the College and University appropriation by $2.5 million (really a decrease in the increase) so that Universities would get the message about ceasing the promulgation of leftist social justice advocacy which included but was not limited to Critical Race Theory and other related social justice programming. 

Last year's House Bill 377 was also adopted to address the discriminatory practices associated with compelling students to affirm discriminatory beliefs. The bill’s language apparently was not strong enough to change the Universities’ social justice practices. 

In presentations to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee, the University Presidents denied that they were engaged in social justice promotion, or denied that the promotion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion was a problem. 

This appropriation bill rewards Universities with a fully funded 5% pay increase, which in part dips into the Higher Education Stabilization Fund (HESF) to the tune of $4 million. The State Board of Education, while welcoming the 5% increase, decried the use of HESF in this manner. It is supposed to be a rainy day fund. 

This bill provides an 8% General Fund increase to the Colleges, which sends the message that non-compliance with the intent of the legislature has no consequences.

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