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 1177 appropriates $34,885,600 and 48.79 full-time positions to Special University Programs 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 1177 provides $218,900 for technical assistance grants. These funds are federally sourced from the American Rescue Plan Act to provide business development grants process to “very small businesses (VSBs), socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI), and minority-owned businesses in the state.” This funding will also be used to provide one new full-time position for a grants manager position.
This is a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars because these funds are being allocated based on the immutable characteristics of the business owner. This is a discriminatory policy that does not distribute funds based on merit. Furthermore, these funds being sourced from ARPA makes it particularly inappropriate to create this new entitlement program with these temporary funds. When Idaho accepted these funds in the 2021 legislative session, they asserted that these funds should be used to directly benefit our grandchildren since they are saddled with the debt incurred by this federal spending. This does not include creating new entitlement programs to subsidize private businesses.
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 Special Programs at $33,350,300, only growing from the base by 4.4% over the last three years. This rate is much slower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating modest growth in the cost to maintain the agency.
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?
This legislation appropriates $4,747,600 in federal funding to support the Department of Education’s Division of Special Programs. This constitutes approximately 14% of the agency's total budget. Since there are line items of this budget that expand the use of federal dollars to create new entitlement programs and full-time positions, this budget expands the department’s dependency on funding from Washington, DC.
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 1177 appropriates 1.70 new full-time positions to the Division of Special Programs. As discussed earlier in this rating, one of these new FTPs is a Technical Assistance Grant Manager. The agency also seeks to add 0.5 FTP for a part-time Rural Service Consultant position and to restore an FTP rescission from the 2021 fiscal year. This restoration will be used to pay a new Studio/Blu Center Director and a new coordinator for the Wildland Fire Center. Both new positions are only partially funded by state appropriations and only add 0.1 new FTPs each. The addition of these new FPS increases the overall size of government and ongoing costs.