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Senate Bill 1399 – Idaho Public Television, Appropriations FY25

Senate Bill 1399 – Idaho Public Television, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 5, 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 1399 appropriates $3,016,600 and 15.00 full-time positions to Idaho Public Television for fiscal year 2025.

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?

Idaho Public Television provides coverage of state government affairs including Idaho in Session and proceedings of the Idaho Supreme Court. It also supports the Idaho emergency alert system. These operations are arguably necessary aspects of the role that IPTV plays in keeping Idahoans informed about the activities of their government.

The agency, funded through monies provided by the Friends of Idaho Public Television account, provides syndicated content and weekly news that does not exclusively serve the role of making government activities transparent to Idahoans. Critically, much of this content and news reporting has a decidedly partisan slant that is not appropriate for a non-partisan state agency. These activities do not align with the proper role of government.


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.)? 

The budget for Idaho Public Television is split into two components: monies sourced from the General Fund and those sourced from donations made to the Friends of Idaho Public Television Account — better known as the “Friends Account.” As of the 2023 fiscal year, funds from the Friends Account were continuously appropriated, leaving only general fund dollars under the direct oversight of the Legislature.

Being that the funds from the Friends Account are continuously appropriated, they are no longer directed for use as approved by the Legislature. Though the Legislature retains the right to regain the authority to directly appropriate these funds at a later date (Section 67-3514, Idaho Code), a majority of the members of the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee must vote to suspend the budget law exemption to view these funds. This effectively hides these funds from scrutiny and debate. The Legislature is unable to determine what would be a valid expenditure from the General Fund since these funds are not directly appropriated. Given that these funds make up 71% of the overall budget for IPTV in the 2024 fiscal year, this obscures most activities within this state agency from the public view. This is not a transparent use of funds and prevents the Legislature from curbing waste in the General Fund.


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 Idaho Public Television of $2,948,100, growing from the base by 4.6% over the last three years. This rate is slower than the rate of inflation over the same period, demonstrating modest growth in the cost to maintain the agency.


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?

Senate Bill 1399 includes a provision for one additional FTP funded through the Millennium Fund. This position was not requested by the agency but by the Millennium Fund committee to “coordinate with state and non-state entities to maximize efficiencies and minimize duplications.” This need for this new position is vague. Though this is a limited service position, contingent on the Millennium Fund Committee’s intention to fund it, this is still growth in the size of government.


Does this budget contain hidden fund transfers or supplemental expenditures that work to enact new policy or are not valid emergency expenditures? Conversely, are fund transfers only made to stabilization funds or are supplemental requests only made in the interest of resolving valid fiscal emergencies?

This budget request contains a $700,000 supplemental for authority to spend federal funds from the Next Gen Warning System Grant. This funding would come from the Department of Homeland Security to upgrade the national emergency alert system.

This supplemental is preemptive because the agency still has not received the grant as of the time this budget was set. The agency noted in their hearing before JFAC that this request is being made in short order because they need to be able to access the communication system while the weather is fair. This would be one thing if the funds were available but it is unclear whether the agency actually would receive these funds.


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