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Senate Bill 1434 – Office of the Attorney General, Supplemental FY24 and Appropriations FY25

Senate Bill 1434 – Office of the Attorney General, Supplemental FY24 and Appropriations FY25

Niklas Kleinworth
March 21, 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: -1

Bill Description: Senate Bill 1434 appropriates $34,126,500 and 229.40 full-time positions to the Office of the Attorney General 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 Office of the Attorney General at $33,122,900, growing it from the base by 25.4% in the last three years. This rate is faster than what would be prescribed by inflationary pressures and growth.


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 legislation would appropriate 5.00 new full-time equivalent positions to the Office of the Attorney General and remove 3.60 full-time positions, which are being transferred to the Office of Administrative Hearings. This would result in a net increase of 1.40 FTPs for the Attorney General. These additional positions would add deputy attorneys general for the Civil Litigation Division, Energy & Natural Resources Division, and the Transportation Department Division.

The addition of the three new DAGs for Civil Litigation and Transportation would allow the office to reduce the cost of contracting outside counsel to do the same work. Each of these new positions will cost taxpayers $159,350 per year in salaries and benefits. By comparison, contracting with outside counsel for civil litigation cases costs $185 per hour and approximately $384,800 per year per attorney. Adding one civil litigation DAG would save $225,450 per year. Adding two DAGs to the Transportation Department would see even more significant savings as its costs for outside counsel range from $445 to $600 per hour. Therefore, adding these positions can be justified, as they will be a net savings in ongoing costs to the taxpayer.

The office also seeks to add two new DAGs to manage the increased caseload of land, water, and environmental disputes with the federal government. The role of the Attorney General, as the state’s chief legal officer, cannot be replaced by an equivalent function of the free market. This is in contrast with examples of other agencies that add to their staff people who occupy a role that could be fulfilled by a free market solution. Therefore, adding these new FTPs — despite causing increased costs — is necessary to resolve the increased caseload.


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 also provides a supplemental appropriation of $435,000 to cover the legal costs of Tucker v. Public Defense Commission. There is already $740,700 built into the base for this purpose, but $575,000 has already been encumbered in the 2024 fiscal year. This supplemental would bring the 2024 fiscal year base appropriation for the Special Litigation Program up to $1,175,700. This is an unanticipated expenditure and appears to be a valid use of a supplemental request.


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