The Idaho Budget Index examines appropriation bills on several fronts to add important context to lawmakers’ discussions as they are considered on the floor of the House and Senate. 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.
Bill description: Senate Bill 1347 appropriates $19.7 million to the Office of Species Conservation.
The Office of Species Conservation is requesting a 34.8% budget increase, almost entirely consisting of $5 million in federal funds for projects involving salmon migration, authorized under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
There are two problems with this line item. The first is that most citizens wouldn’t think that removing and replacing culverts to benefit salmon, as noble as that might be, would qualify as infrastructure.
The second is that the IIJA adds to the federal deficit. The federal government has accumulated about $30 trillion in debt, and this bill will grow that number. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the IIJA adds $256 billion to the federal debt. Another estimate (from the Eno Center for Transportation) puts that number as high as $375 billion.
The majority of congressional House Republicans (13 Yeas and 200 Nays) didn’t support IIJA, in part because much of the money wasn’t allocated to traditional infrastructure projects like roads and bridges. This grant is an example of that.
STAY CONNECTED with the latest news, research and opinions from the Gem State.