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 1181 appropriates $81,469,100 and 170.00 full-time positions to the Department of Water Resources 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 Water Resources at $81,158,900, growing from the base by 213.9% in the last three years. This rate is exponentially more than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
This astonishing growth in the size of the agency’s maintenance budget is largely due to the injection of $50 million of funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. However, even when removing ARPA funding from the maintenance growth calculation, costs to maintain basic operations within the agency grew by 20.5% compared to the base three years ago. This is still substantially greater than the rate of inflation over the same period.
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 1181 provides $51,838,100 in federal funding to support nearly 64% of the budget for the Department of Water Resources. $50 million of this funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act and will be ongoing until fiscal year 2026. These funds are used to update water infrastructure throughout the state. However, they substantially increase dependence on federal deficit spending.
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?
This legislation provides three new full-time positions and $332,500 to hire new Water Resource Agents to manage the Bear River Basin Adjudication project. This project is expected to be extremely long-term. The agency notes that about $200,000 of this ongoing cost will be offset by filing fees by the fourth year of the project. These new full-time positions grow the size of government and ongoing spending.