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 1165 appropriates $25,353,800 and 176.00 full-time positions to the Office of Information and Technology Services for fiscal year 2024.
Does this budget incur any wasteful spending among discretionary funds, including new line items? Conversely, does this budget contain any provisions that serve to reduce spending where possible (i.e. base reductions, debt reconciliation, etc.)?
During the pandemic, the Office of Information Technology Services (OITS) utilized coronavirus relief funding to create a remote work environment for their employees. These funds were temporary and funds for this purpose will be exhausted by the 2024 fiscal year. Senate Bill 1165 seeks to fund two line items valued at more than $1.8 million to sustain software licenses and security programs to continue the remote work model for the agency.
Coronavirus relief funding was intended to be used for one-time expenditures. However, the agency decided to use these funds to create new, ongoing programs. Approximately $1.6 million of these line items will be ongoing expenditures that get incorporated into the base for future fiscal years. This is an example of a temporary government program becoming permanent. Additionally, questions should be asked as to why the agency did not see a reduction in costs to absorb these new expenses, as they will not need to maintain as much physical office space. These new expenses are an example of wastefulness spurred by “temporary” federal spending.
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 Information Technology Services at $18,107,100, growing from the base by 20.3% in the last three years. This rate is substantially more than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
This growth is largely due to the dramatic increase in OITS staff due to the IT consolidation initiative that was implemented in several phases over the last few years. These new staff and related costs integrate into the base budget for future fiscal years, explaining the maintenance budget 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 department will see an increase of 39 full-time positions, costing $4,528,800 to implement the final phase of IT consolidation. There will be a net statewide reduction of 21 FTPs across six agencies as part of this line item request. Though there is an increase in the number of full-time positions at OITS, there is a net reduction due to the consolidation.
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 1165 contains two supplemental requests for $521,300 and work to add 10.00 full-time positions. These requests include four new personnel for Business Operations Services and six new positions for IT Consolidation Preparation coming in the 2024 fiscal year.
Neither of these supplemental requests demonstrate valid fiscal emergencies. For instance, OITS could have planned for additional personnel needs related to IT consolidation when crafting their request for the 2023 fiscal year. There was also no fiscal emergency cited to justify the need for more personnel for Business Operations Services. This is a request that could have been delayed until the start of the 2024 fiscal year in July.