The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add some important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. As we look at the budget, we consider the following issues:
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? Have budget-writers reviewed existing outlays 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 adding 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 truly objectionable or legitimate and worthy of support.
Bill description: HR018 dedicates approximately $12 million from the Idaho Permanent Building Fund to the Idaho Department of Corrections so it can construct a new reentry center in Pocatello, ID.
In FY21 the Legislature appropriated $5.9 million for Community Intervention under the Community Corrections budget aimed at reducing recidivism. Money was included for transitional housing.
In FY22, another $1.8 million was appropriated for Community Intervention Stations.
And now the legislature is being asked to construct a $12 million permanent facility for a re-entry center, with 100 beds, at a cost of $120k per bed. Also aimed at reducing recidivism. Five other reentry centers already exist in Idaho.
Perhaps it is time to hit the pause button and not incur another ongoing fixed cost of operating the facility in addition to the $12 million to build it.
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