The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add some important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. As we look at the budget, we consider the following issues:
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? Have budget-writers reviewed existing outlays 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 adding 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 truly objectionable or legitimate and worthy of support.
Bill Description: Health and Welfare department, Division of Public Health Services, FY22 appropriation
This appropriation contains a number of problematic elements. When the Governor’s budget was originally proposed, the amount requested was about $127 million. Federal Covid relief money has swollen the budget to a staggering $195.9 million, 54.4% more than FY21, which includes $67.9 million in Covid relief money. These funds are provided by the federal government with borrowed money.
There is a new FTP and $275,000 for a Alzheimer’s Disease Program Coordinator. Also, embedded in this appropriation is the Health Care Policy Initiative. This program, which evolved from the State Healthcare Innovation Plan (SHIP) has done nothing discernable to improve Idaho’s health care system - certainly not lower costs.