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.
Bill Description: Senate Bill 1404 provides a supplemental appropriation of $36,705,800 from ARPA for the Public School Support Program’s Divisions of Administrators, Teachers, and Operations for fiscal year 2022.
Senate Bill 1404 appropriates money from the American Rescue Plan Act Fund to provide “a one time $1,000 bonus to each full-time equivalent (FTE) administrator, teacher, pupil service staff, and classified position.” In whole, this bill will cost more than $36.7 million in borrowed and printed federal funds.
When the Legislature decided to accept ARPA funding in 2021, it asserted in Section 67-3533 of Idaho Code that these funds “are borrowed from our grandchildren” and should be spent on projects that directly benefit them. Knowing this, it is difficult for the department to justify how spending ARPA dollars on blanket one-time bonuses for public school officials will benefit our grandchildren. Rather, these initiatives only grow the debt they will have to pay as government employees pad their wallets.