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Senate Bill 1411 – Department of Water Resources, Appropriations FY25

Senate Bill 1411 – Department of Water Resources, Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 11, 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: -2

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1411 appropriates $81,800,000 and 170.00 full-time positions to the Department of Water Resources for fiscal year 2025.

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 maintenance budget for the Department of Water Resources of $81,136,600. However, $50 million of this funding consists of continuously appropriated, temporary funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. These funds will run out in 2026. Even after excluding these funds, the agency grew  from the base by 20.4% over the last three years. This rate is higher than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures over the same period.


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 legislation contains a $30 million fund transfer from the General Fund to the Water Management Fund for various water infrastructure projects. This request was added by the governor and not made by the agency.

Transferring these funds from the General Fund to another account hides the extent to which the state has encumbered Idaho-generated revenues. Fund transfers should be counted as spending from the general fund because these dollars will still be spent. This accounting gimmick prevents taxpayers from understanding the true growth in spending over time.


ANALYST NOTE: Senate Bill 1411 also includes a supplemental request for the 2024 fiscal year of $25 million in federal funds. These funds were appropriated in the 2023 fiscal year, and encumbered. However, they were not expended before they were reverted back to the General Fund at the end of the 2023 fiscal year. This request returns these reverted funds so the agency can pay for services received.


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