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Senate Bill 1383 – Department of Parks and Recreation, Appropriations FY25

Senate Bill 1383 – Department of Parks and Recreation, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 4, 2024

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

Rating: -3

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1383 appropriates $87,954,400 and 190.80 full-time positions to the Department of Parks and Recreation for fiscal year 2025.

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.)? 

Several line items in this budget are not only wasteful, but they duplicate appropriations from years past.

One line item calls for an additional $200,000 to fund pay increases for seasonal employees. This is in addition to $150,000 spent last year for the same line item request. The purpose of this funding is to help government offices recruit and retain employees, especially seasonal ones. The department noted in its presentation to JFAC that last year’s funding was effective, calling into question why another appropriation with 33% more funding is requested for the 2025 fiscal year.

There are also several line items amounting to about $2.3 million in various maintenance projects. The department was already appropriated $95 million to address deferred maintenance concerns at parks throughout the state in the 2024 fiscal year.

In addition to the $95 million in the base for deferred maintenance, the department is requesting another $20 million in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act to support even more deferred maintenance projects. Being the department already has a sizable appropriation for this purpose, it is inappropriate to use borrowed federal funds that were initially intended to be used for COVID relief.


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 confirms the program maintenance budget for the Department of Parks and Recreation of $56,298,500. This growth from the FY 2022 base is more than two and a half times higher than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth. 

For perspective, the total value of all line item requests in this budget is $31.6 million dollars while the total base budget from the 2022 fiscal year was $37.7 million. This illustrates that the department has not only grown substantially in recent years, but plans to continue this trend.


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?

Senate Bill 1383 appropriates $36,865,300 in federal funding to the Department of Parks and Recreation. This makes the budget 41.9% federally funded. These dollars are largely sourced from COVID relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Using these COVID relief dollars on the parks department is hardly an appropriate way to help Americans weather the pandemic. 

This legislation demonstrates a growing dependence on federal funding, including in the form of ARPA funds.


Does the budget grow government through the addition of new permanent FTPs or through funding unlegislated efforts to create new or expanded entitlement programs? Conversely, does this budget reduce the size of government staff and programs except where compelled by new legislation?

This budget requests seven new full-time equivalent positions to staff Ponderosa, Bruneau Dunes, Winchester, Round Lake, Thousand Springs, and Farragut State Parks. These positions will be exclusively funded by the additional revenues generated from admissions fees and sales of Idaho State Parks Passports. Though this grows the size of the agency, this does not encumber additional tax revenues.

Some may argue that this would encumber tax revenues should admissions revenues and State Parks Passport sales fall in subsequent years. This is speculative, however. It would be equally likely that the agency could opt to cut the positions altogether, given the lower attendance at the site.


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