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 809 appropriates $34,041,900 and 61.25 full-time positions to the Office of the State Board of Education for fiscal year 2023. However, separate supplemental appropriations bring the true cost of the budget to $85,076,900 and adds 6.5 full-time positions.
The budget proposed in House Bill 809 significantly expands the size of the State Board of Education by increasing the budget by 38.7% and adding 5.5 new full-time positions. In fact, the Board plans to spend $753,900 on new staff with money from the General Fund.
In addition to expanding the number of employees, the Board would receive an increase in federal funding — 95.3% more than what it received in fiscal year 2022. As a result, 51.8% of its budget comes from federal sources.
House Bill 809 represents a revised version of the original budget proposed in Senate Bill 1390, which failed in the House earlier this legislative session. In response, the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) corrected calculations for new staff salaries and relocated a line item of $25 million in ARPA funding for the Empowering Parents Grant Program by including it as a supplemental appropriation. Instead of being included in the 2023 fiscal year’s budget, the Empowering Parents Grant funding will be one supplemental for fiscal year 2022, with an additional $1.04 million in funding for administrative and startup costs. This brings the program’s total cost to more than $51 million and adds one full-time position. Furthermore, JFAC granted reappropriation authority to the Board, allowing these funds to carry over to the 2023 fiscal year.
Considering the substantial cost of these supplemental appropriations, House Bill 809 is actually an increase of $1.19 million from what was proposed in SB 1390. This brings the total appropriation for the 2022 Empowering Parents line item and the 2023 budget to $85,076,900.
This budget proposal represents an egregious expansion of the state bureaucracy through increased dependence on federal support.