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 1155 appropriates $296,000 and 3.00 full-time positions to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for fiscal year 2024 and provides a $7,000 supplemental appropriation 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 Office of the Lieutenant Governor at $224,000, growing from the base by 23.5% in the last three years. This rate is nearly ten percentage points faster than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
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?
The Office of the Lieutenant Governor is appropriated three full-time positions, including the Lieutenant Governor himself. Prior administrations chose to only fund two full-time positions, reallocating the salary of the third position to other spending needs. This budget would add funding for the third existing full-time position, without officially adding a new FTP in the budget. This item technically doesn’t increase the number of staff that are funded within this budget.
Questions need to be raised about where the funding for the other full-time position is currently being redirected and why it couldn’t be restored without new spending. According to the governor’s recommendation in the Legislative Budget Book (pp. 6-185), the Lieutenant Governor will be raising personnel costs by 43% -- increasing from $184,600 to $264,400 – and nearly doubling operating costs from $15,200 to $29,100. This is a very large increase for an office that prior administrations proved could run on a much smaller budget.
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 1124 provides a one-time supplemental of $5,000 for travel expenses and $2,000 for back pay to the prior Lieutenant Governor, for a total cost of $7,000. Beginning with the back pay provision of this supplemental, this action does fall under the proper use of a supplemental due to an unexpected budget shortfall in the 2023 fiscal year. This shortfall was due in part to damages that had to be paid in the case of Idaho Press Club v McGeachin (2021). These funds were not appropriated by the Legislature, requiring cuts to the original appropriation to pay the fine.
The remaining $5,000 for travel expenses restores the travel budget for the office. This is an ongoing portion of this supplemental. Lt. Gov. Scott Bedke speculated in his presentation before JFAC that the previous Lt. Governor either covered travel expenses from her own pocket or through campaign funds. However, the Lt. Governor did not note a valid fiscal emergency that would justify the need for more funding for travel expenses, including any budget shortfall that would prevent him from performing his duties for the remaining three months of the fiscal year. This item should not be a supplemental appropriation. If it were included, it would be better suited as a line item.