The Idaho Spending Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as the spending bills are considered on the House and Senate floors. Among the issues we look at in drawing a conclusion about a budget:
Does the agency requesting these funds serve a proper role of government? Has wasteful or duplicative spending been identified within the agency, and if so, has that spending been eliminated or corrected? Does the budget examine existing spending to look for opportunities to contain spending, e.g., through a base reduction? If there is a maintenance budget, is that maintenance budget appropriate? Are the line items appropriate in type and size, and are they absolutely necessary for serving the public? Does the budget contemplate the addition of new employees or programs? Does the appropriation increase dependency on the federal government?
Our analysis is intended to provide lawmakers and their constituents with a frame of reference for conservative budgeting, by summarizing whether appropriation measures contain items that are sincerely objectionable or sincerely supportable.
This supplemental appropriation is to begin the first phase of the east wing renovations in the Capitol building to provide additional office space. House Bill 289, which was rejected by the Senate appropriated $6.4 million for the entire remodel. So although the amount of this appropriation is $3.9 million, it does not complete the renovation and there is no indication that the total renovation cost will be different from the January 7, 2019 project cost estimate.
Appropriating several million dollars for additional offices for part-time legislators does not send the appropriate message to the general public and it will put legislators in an awkward position should they seek to rein in agency spending just as they move into their private offices.
This appropriation is very ill-timed in view of House Bill 302, which authorizes the transfer of up to $140.6 million from the Budget Stabilization Fund to the General Fund to potentially cover revenue shortfalls.