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 1168 appropriates $89,374,300 and 402.00 full-time positions to the Judicial Branch 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.)?
Senate Bill 1168 provides $1,806,900 for court technology improvements. This is because the court offers funding to district and county courts for improvements as part of their appropriations. The Judicial Branch is asking for reappropriation authority for more than 97% of nearly $20 million in ARPA funding they requested for this very purpose in the 2023 fiscal year. At this point, the court has only developed a written plan for how they will spend these funds.
The Judicial Branch claims that these funds are needed due to declining fee revenues coupled with increasing technology costs. However, these projects are one-time in nature and would be one of the few acceptable uses for temporary COVID relief funds. Legislators must ask why the Judicial Branch needs $1.8 million in additional technology project funding when the $19.5 million that was already appropriated for that purpose has not been used.
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 Judicial Branch at $86,041,100, growing from the base by 16.2% over the last three years. This rate is approximately equal to the rate of inflation over the same period.
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 court plans to use opioid settlement funds to create opioid addiction intervention services like a pre-plea intervention pilot program and low-risk/high-need treatment courts. To oversee the implementation of these new programs, the Judicial Branch seeks to add two new full-time positions costing $390,800, with most being ongoing funding. The addition of these new positions grows the size of government and spending.