There is only one job the state Legislature must do each and every year: Pass a balanced budget. Gov. Brad Little has done a much better job than his predecessor containing spending, but that doesn’t mean his budget proposal is perfect. Here are seven things to like (and seven not to like) about the spending blueprint the governor has handed lawmakers for their consideration:
Things to like about the budget:
Things not to like about the budget:
Note on budget: The budget is composed of General Funds, Dedicated Funds, and Federal Funds. Most of the focus here is on the General Fund, which is largely supported by income and sales taxes.
Budget discussions compare the changes in original appropriations in the prior year to the proposed appropriations in the coming year. The base budget, which is the carry-over budget starting point, is rarely discussed. From FY18 to the FY22 request, the base has increased about 5.8% per year. FY22 is the first year under this trend-line.
Lawmakers must take care to ensure that the infusion of federal COVID relief funds don’t end up permanently growing government spending. For example, the FY22 line item request (for new spending) includes about 106 positions. While this is shown as no net increase from FY21 because many positions authorized in FY21 were not filled, it is worrisome that other positions are being added when so many businesses tightened their belts. Once added, government headcount is very difficult to reduce.