The Idaho Freedom Foundation has long championed transparency in government. Central to this notion is ability of the average Idahoan to see what government actually spends, at all levels.
Transparency works to everyone’s advantage because it puts Idaho’s citizens on more equal footing with government agencies. So, with respect to state agency funding requests, the average citizen can see the requests for money well in advance of the legislative session.
To that end, the Idaho Division of Financial Management has now put all agency requests for State Fiscal Year 2018 on its website:
Posting agency budget requests online might not seem to be a big deal, but the fact that they are available in September is significant. Some agency budget documents are long. By providing them now, in advance of the governor’s proposed budget, citizens and legislators have more time to digest the data.
A couple examples illustrate why the lead time is important. Public schools and health and human Services consume about 70 percent of the general fund budget.
People with some familiarity of state budgeting might have seen the public school support budget when it was recently distributed via a press release – but that was just the summary page. The budget on the website is 60 pages long and contains useful details about spending for public schools.
Health and Human Services spending is almost entirely driven by the Department of Health and Welfare. The DHW budget document is an enormous 424 pages, but the point here is that the data is available.
Idahoans interested in knowing why the DHW general funding request for fiscal year 2018 is 16.5 percent higher than actual fiscal year 2016 spending can review the various agency budget requests and see why. More importantly, those interested can question why.