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 779 appropriates $196,828,600 to the Permanent Building Fund for FY23, and includes a FY22 supplemental for $211,525,000.
While many of the projects in this bill are necessary and appropriate, there is one very troubling element. It is the money for the Chinden Campus. In 2017, HCR29 passed and the fiscal note stated that the cost to acquire the land and buildings was between $110 and $140 million.
The Department of Administration bonded for $139 million. A FY19 supplemental added $4 million, with additional monies to relocate offices in FY20.
Now we see $1.4 million in this bill for maintenance and then another $37 million for campus improvements. The issue brief on the Chinden Campus budget, dated 2/28/19 doesn’t address the need for nearly $40 million in additional funds. There appears to be little legislative oversight into all of these additional requests.