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Senate Bill 1174 – Department of Lands, Appropriations FY24

Senate Bill 1174 – Department of Lands, Appropriations FY24

by
Niklas Kleinworth
March 16, 2023
Niklas Kleinworth
Author Image
March 16, 2023

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

Rating: -4

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1174 appropriates $86,205,900 and 355.27 full-time positions to the Department of Lands for fiscal year 2024.

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 Department of Lands at $81,496,200, growing from the base by 30.0% in the last three years. This rate is more than double what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.

(-1)

Does this budget perpetuate or expand state dependence on federal dollars, thereby violating principles of federalism? Conversely, does this budget actively reduce the amount of federal dollars used to balance this budget?

Senate Bill 1174 provides $19,206,800 in federal funding to the Department of Lands. This constitutes 22% of the agency’s total budget. The agency also plans to add one new full-time position at a cost of $115,000 in federal funding to add a new Land Program Manager. This legislation continues and expands the Department’s dependence on federal funding.

(-1)

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?

Senate Bill 1174 seeks to add 9.82 new full-time equivalent positions to the Department of Lands at a total cost of $1,197,000. Of these new full-time positions, $459,600 will be appropriated to create managerial positions. These managerial positions include: two Lands Resource Supervisors, a Fire Zone Manager, and a Land Program Specialist. The remaining 5.82 of the remaining staff will support the new Cottonwood District and the Good Neighbor Authority Program. 

The addition of these positions increases the size of the agency, ongoing spending, and the overall size of government.

(-1)

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 1174 provides for two supplemental appropriations valued at $2 million total. One supplemental request is to purchase $750,000 worth of wildland fire retardant for the upcoming fire season. This request was not made by the governor nor the agency indicating that it is not an emergency expenditure.

The Department is also requesting $1.25 million in funding  to purchase staff housing in the Maggie Creek supervisory area. The department hopes that this will mitigate workforce shortages in that area. The original request made by the agency was only $600,000. This new request for $1.25 million proposed by the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee is more than double the original projected cost. This funding would allow for the purchase and renovation of an existing property in the area. 

The agency would only receive this funding three months before the beginning of the next fiscal year. Though some funds would be needed to acquire the property before the start of fire season, these funds will be carried-over into the 2024 fiscal year, indicating that the full amount is not required as a supplemental. This calls into question whether all $1.25 million of these funds mitigate a valid fiscal emergency.

(-1)

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