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Idaho is flourishing. Let’s keep it that way by keeping state government small and cutting the fat from our budget. The Gem State is leading the nation in employment and wage growth, but just because we have the money doesn’t mean we need to spend it. Let’s rein in spending just like we’re already reining in onerous government regulations. We need to govern with a steady hand and hold the line on spending in these good times, so we have a funding cushion when the economy dips. The best way to do that is by changing the way state agencies budget, so we can cut ineffective and inefficient programs.

Idaho has made headlines across the nation recently for its massive cuts to burdensome regulations. We applaud Governor Brad Little’s drastic cuts to these needless rules, as he leads Idaho into an era of common sense state government. But, we can do better. Regulations are only part of the story.

Let’s extend our regulation cutting philosophy to our state’s finances. Just like we have done with our rules, we need to review the programs we fund to eliminate those that are outdated and ineffective. That’s just smart money management. We understand we can’t run our government exactly like a business, but we can and should run parts of it like a business. One of those parts is our state’s financial management. It’s called fiscal accountability.

Fiscal accountability in state government starts with the budgeting process. Here’s how it works… In Idaho, the 187 state agencies submit their budgets to the Governor’s office in the fall of each year. He reviews them and makes his own budget recommendations. In January of each year, the agencies’ requests and the Governor’s recommendations are presented to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) for the committee’s consideration. After reviewing the agencies’ requests, JFAC often makes changes before it passes a budget bill for each agency to receive further consideration by both bodies of the legislature and ultimately the Governor.

We serve on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee (JFAC) in the Idaho Legislature. The members of JFAC work very hard to address the State’s funding needs in a thoughtful and disciplined manner. One of our main goals is to eliminate spending that doesn’t give Idahoans the results you deserve. The best way to accomplish that is by state agencies budgeting like businesses. After reviewing hundreds of agency budgets over the last three years, we can tell you most agencies do not budget like businesses. That has to change. They must make an honest assessment of their programs. If the programs aren’t getting results for Idaho’s taxpayers, their funding has to be reallocated to programs that are. If we need to find funding for a new program, we should first look for ineffective programs we can eliminate to pay for it. It’s a big change that can mean big savings for Idaho.

Let’s be more disciplined in how we spend your money. Let’s lower the cost of government, without sacrificing the quality of services you deserve. There is no better time than now to cut the fat and thoughtfully fund our state’s growth.

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Sens. Carl Crabtree and Jeff Agenbroad serve on the Idaho Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

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