Bill Description: This bill would restrict the expenditure of some federal funds, American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) but not others, and create new funds for the payment of expenses using ARPA.
Analyst Note: It is true that the state should have a prohibition on spending federal dollars beyond the existing process for the receipt of non cognizable funds in state law. However, S1204 doesn't accomplish that. In addition to codifying ARPA, it leaves as non cognizable any other monies the state might receive in the NEXT federal spending package to be determined. That's a problem. While Senate Bill 1204 affects ARPA, other federal “bailouts” (possibly massive in scope) would not be.
Furthermore, the statements in subsection 2 of the proposed Idaho Code 67-3533 are interesting and yet completely nonbinding. Nothing prevents the Legislature from appropriating money in contravention of the enumerated ideas. Moreover, there's no discussion about the issue of such other topics as the appropriateness of the federal government's use of federal spending policy to dictate tax and spending terms at the state level. As a separate but equal sovereign government, one might expect some meaty language in the bill disputing and even nullifying the provisions of ARPA that put in place restrictions on the state's ability to lower taxes or cut agency spending.
The Legislature could, by law, restrict the acceptance of any discretionary money, or any monies tied to programs that are inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution's enumerated powers, or any monies conditioned upon a maintenance of effort or the newly invented "maintenance of equity" requirement. While any of those restrictions can be superseded by a state statute in the future, at least the Legislature would be establishing some meaningful criteria, in law, rather than some vacuous statements about how our grandkids are being saddled with a lot of debt.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function or activity of government?
Because Senate Bill 1204 provides no limitation on the application of ARPA, one must acknowledge the bill’s acceptance as the plausible expansion of programs managed by the state of Idaho. This includes an emergency rental assistance program, a homeowner assistance fund, childcare stabilization grants, two new child abuse prevention programs, a community mental health services block grant, a new substance abuse program, a low-income home energy assistance program, a new home meal delivery program, and a new library and museum grant program.
It is beyond the scope of this analysis to articulate every program that has been or will be created, expanded, or enlarged by ARPA funding, so for simplicity purposes, we can safely argue that the bill facilitates the creation, expansion, and enlargement of various programs and functions and government.
Does it transfer a function of the private sector to the government?
There are many examples in which ARPA (herein codified, without limitation via Senate Bill 1204) transfers functions of the private sector to the government. This includes sundry education programs, healthcare programs, arts programs, programs for both young and old, and so on. ARPA presupposes that the government is the solution to any and all problems, and silences any private participants by showing government agencies with money.
Does it increase government redistribution of wealth?
The entirety of ARPA contemplates a vast redistribution of wealth. It supplies money to people who have not earned it for a variety of programs designed and run by the government.
Does it increase government spending (for objectionable purposes) or debt?
It clearly increases spending and debt as demonstrated in earlier examples.
Does it violate the spirit or letter of either the United States Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
ARPA itself is an assault on the constitutions of the United States and the state of Idaho. ARPA restricts the state’s ability to cut taxes or reduce spending, and the acceptance of the funds from ARPA accepts this fact, (legal challenges notwithstanding). However, at minimum, and in the interest of attempting to be as generous with this analysis as possible, Senate Bill 1204 at least restores the Legislature’s constitutional authority to appropriate funds, in this case, those monies from ARPA exclusively.
Does it violate the principles of federalism by increasing federal authority, yielding to federal blandishments, or incorporating changeable federal laws into Idaho statutes?
As noted previously, ARPA undermines all aspects and any remnants of federalism. Acceptance of the federal money, in this case, renders Idaho nothing more than an administrative unit of the federal government, which is consigned to take in money and administer the same, never deviating from a script of programs, funds, revenue, and expenditures as provided and ordered by the national government.