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 1416 appropriates $25,230,600 and 114.0 full-time positions to the Office of the State Controller for fiscal year 2023.
Though Senate Bill 1416 only grows the State Controller’s budget by 6.2% from fiscal year 2022, there is an increase of 9 new staff positions to facilitate the implementation of the new Luma program. An unusual part of this budget is that the agency is not requesting any monies from the legislature to fund the $880,300 these new positions would cost. The Legislative Budget Book details how these positions are funded by the Business Information Infrastructure Fund until the program sunsets on June 30, 2023. After that date, Luma would transition to a fee-for-service model when supplying services to government agencies. This funding model can be deceptive when comparing budgets for this agency, since there would still be an increased cost to administer this program, but the funding would come from other government entities’ budgets.
Additional issue with this budget is the provision for creating a new behavioral health reporting system database with the use of ARPA funds. This $950,000 upgrade is very concerning as it is a far cry from the proper role of government and should not be in the business of collecting behavioral health data on constituents.