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 1197 appropriates $185,181,800 from the Permanent Building Fund for fiscal year 2024 and provides $960,801,400 in supplemental appropriations for fiscal year 2023.
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.)?
The governor recommended spending $219,844,000 for higher education capital projects at Boise State University, the University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Lewis and Clark State College, the College of Western Idaho, and the College of Southern Idaho. After coming before the legislature for consideration, the total cost for these projects was reduced to just over $185 million.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee initially decided during the budget-making process that it would not be necessary to fund the $30 million science research building project at Boise State University. However, this decision was reversed by reallocating funds to all the colleges and universities listed above based on their relative enrollment rather than the cost to complete the projects.
This move was particularly wasteful because universities either must downsize their projects or ask for additional funding later on. Funding projects based on enrollment does not make sense because there is no connection between the cost of the project and the number of students at the college or university. In fact, all four of Idaho’s four-year higher education institutions are seeing stagnant or declining enrollment.
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?
The governor recommended a General Fund transfer of $2,808,700 to complete capital projects for Idaho Public Television. These projects are non-emergent and would only update technology in the Pocatello, Jerome, and Coeur d’Alene areas. This is not a valid use of a supplemental appropriation.