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 1198 is a revised appropriations bill for the Attorney General's budget after House Bill 303 was returned to JFAC without a vote. This legislation appropriates $34,363,600 and 231.00 full-time positions to the Office of the Attorney General for fiscal year 2024.
ANALYST NOTE: Senate Bill 1198 makes changes to the original appropriation made in House Bill 303, which was called back to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee without a floor vote. The first change moves two full-time positions to the Legislative Services Office for a reduction of $240,200. The second change provides a 7.5% salary increase for non-executive office Deputy Attorneys General and investigators resulting in an increase of $1,101,000. Senate Bill 1198 also cuts the new Victim Witness Coordinator position that was not requested by the agency. These cuts from the original appropriations bill improved the score on this budget by two points.
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 1198 provides $1,101,000 to support a pay increase for Deputy Attorneys General and investigators. These funds would provide a 7.5% pay increase for Deputy AGs when combined with the CEC. Attorney General Raúl Labrador noted that these positions generally lag behind other public sector positions by 11%, making it difficult to hire and retain employees. This salary increase is commensurate with increases proposed for other areas of the budget like those for Magistrate judges and other high-demand professions.
The Office of the Attorney General appropriated a similar pay increase for these employees in the 2023 fiscal year. At the time, this request was not recommended by the governor being that the agency was slated to receive a 5% statewide CEC. Despite this, the increase still received legislative support.
The $1.20 statewide CEC would provide a roughly 2.9% average agency-wide increase in employee compensation. Providing an additional 4.6% increase in pay is more in alignment with what is seen in other areas of the budget than the original budget proposed in House Bill 303.
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 Office of the Attorney General at $31,566,800, growing from the base by 19.5% in the last three years. This rate is higher than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
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 1198 would add a total of four full-time positions to the Office of the Attorney General. This bill differs from House Bill 334 in that it does not appropriate one position for a Victim Witness Coordinator, which would have cost $98,700. The remaining four positions will be for more investigators and analysts for the Internet Crimes Against Children Division (ICAC). When accounting for new staff and vehicles, the total cost to add these positions is $642,600. These positions are mitigating the exponential growth in the number of tips in the ICAC unit.