The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
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? Does the budget examine existing spending 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 the addition of 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 sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.
Idaho Public Television provides real-time coverage of the Idaho Legislature and Idaho Supreme Court hearings. If that were its only function, there would be an argument that it deserves public support and that portion of the budget should be separated from the balance of Idaho Public Television’s work.
Though it varies year to year, about 38 percent of this budget comes from the General Fund (Fiscal Year 2018).
For Fiscal Year 2020, the budget requests a 13.1 percent increase in the General Fund appropriation, driven largely by replacement items. The line-item request for replacement items amounts to more than $800,000, with $284,000 coming from the General Fund. As Idaho Public TV has a vigorous fundraising system, the long list of equipment in the replacement item category could be funded with private donations.
Additionally, there is a line-item request for an additional position for a kindergarten readiness grant. With this addition, Idaho Public TV will have added over nine full-time positions since Fiscal Year 2016.