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 1176 appropriates $678,550,500 and 4,840.68 full-time positions to Colleges and Universities 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.)?
A key issue in Idaho Colleges and Universities is the wasteful spending on social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Researchers at the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Center for American Education determined that there are approximately 56 positions costing more than $4.8 million in salaries and benefits across Idaho’s four higher-education institutions. Funding for colleges and universities — both appropriated and unappropriated by the legislature — are public funds that should not be utilized for the indoctrination of the workforce.
Senate Bill 1176 permits funding for all these social justice and DEI positions working at institutions ranging from gender equity centers, women’s centers, LGBTQ offices, cultural centers, and offices of equity and inclusion. These centers only further Marxist identity warfare that hinders the development of Idaho’s workforce. This is a wasteful use of public funds being that it is counterproductive to the very purpose of sustaining colleges and universities.
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 Colleges and Universities at $673,515,400, growing from the base by 15.1% 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?
Senate Bill 1176 seeks to create 2.5 new full-time positions within the colleges and universities system. These positions include a half-time Higher Education Research Council staffer, one new Academic Technology Support staffer, and an Apply Idaho Project Manager. These positions are statewide positions and are not allocated to any college or university.
Colleges and universities are also not subject to FTP caps set by the Legislature. Rather, they are allowed to add FTPs, then their budget is realigned in a base adjustment to compensate for any changes. Including the 2.5 new positions described above, the colleges and universities have added a net total of 91.25 new full-time positions to their budget. This is an egregious increase in the number of staff at these institutions. The addition of these new positions grows the size of government and ongoing spending.