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: HR015 dedicates approximately $20 million in American Rescue Plan Act Funding to the Idaho Supreme Court to offset the expenses of some technological improvements.
This is a particularly perplexing request given the size of the request and its description:e.g. to pay for the court’s increasing reliance on technology due to COVID. Before the pandemic, the total appropriation for the judicial branch in FY21 was $74 million, with $53.7 million for personnel costs, $11.2 million for operating expenditures, and $3.3 million for capital outlays.
This budget is ballooning to over $100 million under the FY23 cost. The $19.99 million line item for technology upgrades is broken down as follows: $1.6 million in personnel costs with 7 FTP, $16.1 million in operating expenditures and $2.259 million for computer equipment.
In view of historical spending, this is excessive, even though it is intended to be spent over several years to ”support efficiency and security of remote operations.”
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