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 1207 appropriates $698,949,800 to the Public School Children’s Programs Division for fiscal year 2024.
Does this budget enact powers and activities that extend beyond the proper role of government? Conversely, does this budget fulfill the proper role of government?
Senate Bill 1207 appropriates $831,200 in federal pandemic relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to support preschool special education. This funding is in addition to $2.3 million built into the base budget for this program to administer the federal Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act. It is beyond the proper role of government to support preschool education as parents are those primarily responsible for ensuring their children are equipped to enter school. Funding preschool education threatens the family by allowing government programs to intervene earlier and earlier in the lives of children.
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 Children’s Program at $382,352,600, growing from the base by 18.8% in the last three years. This rate is nearly five points more than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.
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?
This legislation perpetuates dependence on federal funding to sustain programs and operations within the Division of Children’s Programs by appropriating nearly $547 million in funds for pandemic relief, including funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. However, these funds are being used to sustain education programs like special education, pre-k education, and to “keep schools open.” These ongoing expenses are not appropriate uses for temporary federal funds as they increase the number of future financial obligations incurred by the state.
Additionally, there are considerable strings attached to these federal funds that give the federal government undue control of the Idaho public education system. Using these funds extends this federal overreach of power.