The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. 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.
There are nine health education programs and those include veterinary education, medical education, and dental education. Other programs include medical residencies in various specialties.
Medical residencies are a form of government subsidy for job training programs that negate the need for hospitals and clinics to subsidize their own programs, putting the demand for such on government and potentially contributing to market supply issues.
With the lack of medical education programs based in Idaho, using programs in neighboring states has a rationale, but the administration for these programs is growing very rapidly. There were 25.8 Full-Time Positions in Fiscal Year 2018 and for Fiscal Year 2020 that number will be 35.15, should this appropriation be approved.
This budget reflects a 13.8 percent increase in General Fund spending compared to Fiscal Year 2019, and the growth rate should be scaled back. The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) had two budget motions and JFAC rejected the lower cost alternative. The agency sought, but the governor did not recommend, funding for Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Project ECHO is a health services delivery model and is described on page 1-92 of the Legislative Budget Book, FY20.
The substitute motion stripped funding for this project but still grew spending at over 12 percent.