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
Bill Description: Senate Bill 1134 appropriates $21,202,100 and 14.00 full-time positions to the Commission on Aging for fiscal year 2024 and 1,095,100 in supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2023.
Is the maintenance budget inappropriate for the needs of the state, the size of the agency, or the inflationary environment of the economy? Conversely, is the maintenance budget appropriate given the needs of the state and economic pressures?
This legislation sets the maintenance budget for the Commission on Aging at $14,749,500, only growing from the base by 7.5% over the last three years. This rate is slightly more than half the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating acceptable growth in the cost to maintain the agency.
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?
Historically, this agency relied on federal funds to support about 70% of its total budget. This legislation appropriates $15,840,500 in federal funding for fiscal year 2024. This money constitutes 74% of the Commission's total budget, with about $5.3 million of this money appropriated from the American Rescue Plan Act. This legislation also supports 8.06 full-time positions (58% of the Commission’s total staff) with federal funds. This budget perpetuates substantial dependence on federal funding.
Does the budget grow government through the addition of new permanent FTPs or through funding unlegislated efforts to create new or expanded entitlement programs? Conversely, does this budget reduce the size of government staff and programs except where compelled by new legislation?
Senate Bill 1134 provides $5,288,600 in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support a variety of programs administered through local Area Agencies on Aging services. Among these programs is the expansion of a pilot program that would support unpaid caregivers of those suffering from dementia. Though this may seem like a noble use of these funds, there are two issues with this plan. First, ARPA funding is temporary, as it is scheduled to expire in 2026. The problem with starting a new government benefit with these funds is that they will lose financial support after they expire. This is an irresponsible budget practice, as they will oblige the state to either support the program with new spending from the general fund or cut the program from people who have become dependent on it.
The second issue is one that concerns the role of the governor in creating new programs like this one. This program is an unlegislated entitlement program with the potential to create ongoing expenses for the state. This sidesteps the authority of representative 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 1134 also provides for two supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2023. The first of which involves the Adult Protective Services (APS) program and provides $345,000 in federal COVID relief funding. This request is particularly egregious because the department is simply asking for more support for the program without citing any fiscal emergency that would warrant a need for additional funding.
The second supplemental asks for an additional $750,000 in federal awards for local Area Agencies on Aging. These funds are in addition to $9,355,200 in distributions from the Older Americans Act. The department’s rationale for the supplemental is so that they could distribute the full amount awarded by the federal government. However, they did not cite any fiscal emergency that would make this a valid emergency request for more funds.
Neither of these programs is an appropriate use of a supplemental request. At the very least, there is no valid fiscal emergency cited that would indicate that the agency would need the funds within the next three months before its new budget starts on July 1, 2023.