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.
The attorney general’s budget contains an important policy departure.
There is a $330,400 line item to add three criminal disability investigators (CDIU) and an investigations unit. This unit would work in partnership with federal agencies. Page 6-31 of the Legislative Budget Book (LBB) Fiscal Year 2020, describes the need for this unit as follows, “In 2015, Congress directed the Social Security Administration to establish CDIUs in all 50 states. Currently, there are 39 participating agencies nationwide.” Money from the General Fund would include money for ballistic vests and pistols. A unit of the attorney general’s office that investigates disability fraud does not need firearms and vests. This is part of a troubling trend in government agencies to add armed personnel for matters not involving criminal violence.
According to the LBB, page 6-31, “Separate legislation will be required to authorize the AG to operate the CDIU.” This budget should not be considered before the enabling legislation is enacted.