Bill description: Idaho State Board of Education, special programs, Fiscal Year 2021 appropriation
On page 1-112 of the FY21 Legislative Budget Book, the following is noted concerning the opportunity scholarships: “ In FY 2019, the Legislature provided that twenty percent of the funds available for the scholarship may be used for awards to adult students who have earned at least twenty four credits towards a post-secondary degree or certificate and return to an eligible Idaho post-secondary educational institution to complete their degree [Section 33-4303(6), Idaho Code, and S1279 of 2019].
The success of the inclusion of adults returning to college should be evaluated before making the Opportunity Scholarship an ongoing appropriation. In Fiscal Year 2020, the $7 million line-item for the Opportunity Scholarship was a one-time appropriation. The requested $7 million for FY21 will be ongoing: “The governor recommends $7,000,000 ongoing from the General Fund to expand the Opportunity Scholarship to serve more eligible applicants.”
After FY21, this appropriation will be embedded in the budget and no longer a discretionary line item. This is not prudent given that the value of the portion provided to adults has not been validated.
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The Idaho Spending 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.
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