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 789 appropriates $51,851,300 and 123 FTPs for the Department of Education for FY23.
This is another example of a budget that has seen a surge of money due to COVID-19. The $28.8 million federal appropriation category is about double what was historically received by the Department of Education. There are $7.4 million in ARPA funds and $4.3 million in other COVID-19 relief funds.
The agency and the governor had requested two line items totaling $380k related to the Administration of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds, but JFAC increased that to $800k in one line item.
The two biggest line items, totalling over $10 million, are for COVID-19 response as provided by the Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations. It is not entirely clear how this use of borrowed funds will actually improve the operation of private schools.
Finally, a $441k line item related to reducing student homelessness includes $50k for a statewide contract for data collection.
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