In an Eye on Boise post today, Betsy Russell challenges findings by IFF VP Fred Birnbaum that says the state general fund spending is increasing faster than the national average:
Let’s say, as a recent op-ed piece in the Idaho Statesman by Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum claimed, that comparing percentage increases in state general fund spending in Idaho to percentage increases for other states shows whether Idaho’s spending is growing too quickly or too slowly. Now look at the graph above. Birnbaum selected the time period from fiscal year 2011, the lowest point after Idaho’s deep recession-era budget cuts, to fiscal 2016. What growth! Without citing any sources, he said that Idaho’s state general-fund spending increased 28.9 percent in that period, while the average for all other states was just a 22.5 percent increase. “’Conservative’ Idaho is growing spending faster than the average state,” he wrote.
His conclusion: Idaho could have spent $150 million less over that time period – poof! – and not had to raise the gas tax to repair its deteriorating roads and bridges.
But what happens if, instead of measuring from that low point in 2011, you make the same kind of comparison from Idaho’s highest-spending point, two years earlier, in 2009? More here.