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 1205 appropriates $1,338,906,000 to the Public School Teachers Division 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 1205 provides for $2.9 million in dyslexia training for teachers throughout the state. This is in response to the passage of House Bill 731 of 2022 making dyslexia a particular area of emphasis in schools throughout the state. The original request from the Division was for a $1.5 million supplemental appropriation for fiscal year 2023 and an additional line item for $1.4 million in the 2024 fiscal year. However, the governor’s recommendation left the supplemental in place and added another $1.5 million to the 2024 fiscal year line item.
None of these funds were noted in the fiscal note that accompanies House Bill 731 – which only predicted the cost of a new administrator for the program at $97,000 ongoing. There is also another provision for administrative funding for dyslexia services in the original appropriation for the Department of Education. This funding is far above what was originally noted to be the cost to implement this program.
In addition to funds appropriated for dyslexia training, the governor is asking for $145 million to increase each cell of the career ladder by $6,359. On its face, the career ladder seems to be a merit-based system. However, it incentivizes tenure and credentialism rather than productivity and student success. Each teacher also receives a rating to help place them on the career ladder as a merit component for pay. This is a fruitless metric though because 98% of teachers fall into the top two tiers of the rating system. Thus, if everyone is at the top then there is no way to separate better teachers from worse ones.
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 Division of Teachers at $1,338,906,000, only growing from the base by 9.8% over the last three years. This rate is approximately four points slower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating modest growth in the cost to maintain the agency.
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