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 795 appropriates $12,587,600 with a separate $75.5 million cash transfer related to H443 for the Public Schools’ Central Services Division.
The central problem with this appropriation is that it contains the $75.5 million cash transfer from the general fund to the school health insurance fund. This fund was established by H443. There is a statutory conflict that will prevent moving district employees to the state health care plan. Although districts have until June 30, 2024 to access these funds to set up their reserves to join the state health care plan, there is an additional problem.
If these funds are not used they first go to the Public Education Stabilization Fund. Once that fund is at its statutory limit, these monies go to the general fund.
It would make much more sense to first resolve the statutory conflicts before making this cash transfer, both of which could be done in the 2023 session.