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Senate Bill 1129 – Department of Commerce, Supplementals FY23

Senate Bill 1129 – Department of Commerce, Supplementals FY23

Niklas Kleinworth
February 28, 2023

The Idaho Spending Index serves to provide a fiscally conservative perspective on state budgeting while providing an unbiased measurement of how Idaho lawmakers apply these values to their voting behavior on appropriations bills. Each bill is analyzed within the context of the metrics below. They receive one (+1) point for each metric that is satisfied by freedom-focused policymaking and lose one (-1) point for each instance in which the inverse is true. The sum of these points composes the score for the bill.

Analyst: Niklas Kleinworth

Rating: -3

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1129 provides a supplemental appropriation of $124,100,000 from the ARPA Capital Projects Fund to the Department of Commerce for fiscal year 2023 for broadband infrastructure grants.

Does this budget enact powers and activities that extend beyond the proper role of government? Conversely, does this budget fulfill the proper role of government?

This supplemental provides more than $124 million in funding to provide grants to private contractors for broadband development throughout Idaho. The broadband industry has traditionally been operated and developed by the private sector, but this supplemental transfers this role to the government. From a free market perspective, this will stunt advancement in the field by creating industry-wide dependence on government subsidies to develop the infrastructure and favor big business.

It is not the proper role of government to control and support the development of broadband infrastructure, and this bill has the potential to harm the industry.


Does this budget perpetuate or expand state dependence on federal dollars, thereby violating principles of federalism? Conversely, does this budget actively reduce the amount of federal dollars used to balance this budget?

In the original appropriation for the 2023 fiscal year, the Legislature provided $50 million from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for broadband development. Senate Bill 1129 would add another $124 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, more than tripling 2023 appropriations for these projects. The total appropriation of federal funds for broadband development in the current fiscal year would approach $174 million should SB 1129 pass.

ARPA and the IIJA were contentious measures from Washington, DC, because they represented gross federal overreach and a surge in the national deficit. These concerns were compounded by issues of state sovereignty since the federal government would effectively own the newest broadband developments in Idaho, paid for on the backs of our grandchildren. This supplemental represents the staggering growth of Idaho’s dependence on the federal government.


Does this budget contain hidden fund transfers or supplemental expenditures that work to enact new policy or are not valid emergency expenditures? Conversely, are fund transfers only made to stabilization funds or are supplemental requests only made in the interest of resolving valid fiscal emergencies?

Senate Bill 1129 does not address any valid fiscal emergencies within the department that would justify its inclusion in the 2023 fiscal year. Should this measure become law, it is highly unlikely that these funds would be expended within the remaining three months of the 2023 fiscal year. In fact, the supplemental would be ongoing for the life of the federal grant, thus having the potential to last until ARPA funds expire in 2026. Ultimately, there were no financial shortfalls nor unexpected encumbrances within the Department of Commerce that would make this a valid use of a supplemental appropriation.


This post was updated: March 16, 2023 at 10:00 am to correct an error with the amounts referenced for broadband spending in the 2023 fiscal year.

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