The Idaho departments of agriculture and lands are seeking the largest budget increases among the agencies that impact natural resources in their preliminary Fiscal 2021 budget requests.
The Idaho Department of Agriculture is budgeting for a previously planned $2 million in dedicated revenue — from department fees for services such as livestock disease testing. The money will go toward a $10 million pathology lab focused on livestock. The balance of the money for the larger replacement lab came from the 2019 Legislature.
The department also expects more revenue from some fees, including commercial feed and fertilizers, egg inspections and livestock disease control.
David Hahn, financial management analyst principal with the state Division of Financial Management, said the Department of Agriculture is an example of an agency that relies heavily on fees.
The Department of Lands plans to spend more on forest resources management and forest and range fire protection. Public Information Officer Sharla Arledge said the request for the use of additional dedicated funds would support forest resource management on endowment lands, increase Good Neighbor Authority management on forest and rangeland and provide the Public Trust program with an additional employee to help with the increasing demand for docks and other items as Idaho’s population grows.
The resource agencies’ budget proposals follow Gov. Brad Little’s guidance to department heads.
Agencies have through Oct. 25 to submit revisions for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
DFM conducts a technical review and analysis, and can gather additional information through the calendar year to help inform the budget recommendation the governor delivers in January to open the legislative session. Legislative Services Office staff provide input and analysis.
Little’s office, in an Aug. 19 memo, advised agency heads for FY ’21 to restrict line-item increases to emergency requests that lack any other source of funding. Replacement-item requests should be limited to emergencies, or shifted to sources other than the state General Fund, which primarily consists of sales and income tax revenue.
Slower economic growth is expected to persist, reducing the FY 2020 balance and pressuring the FY 2021 budget, the memo said.
Agency leaders planning to request a supplemental line item or replacement item should be prepared to identify two to three offsets within the base budget.
Fees, grants, federal funds and dedicated program revenue drive many resource-agency budgets much more than the state General Fund.
Flat budgets, with total spending approximating year-earlier levels, are proposed by the Department of Water Resources and the University of Idaho Agricultural Research and Extension system, which plans a lower capital outlay.
In proposing a small decrease in its total budget for FY ’21, the Department of Environmental Quality expects to spend more on water quality and less on air quality.
Fish and Game, which is largely license-funded and does not receive General Fund revenue, plans reduced spending on wildlife mitigation and habitat conservation, and a lower capital |outlay.
Fiscal 2021 total preliminary budget requests compared to Fiscal 2020 estimated expenditures:
• Agriculture: Up 6.3% to $48.6 million.
• Lands: Up 7.1% to $64.5 million.
• University of Idaho Agricultural Research and Extension: Up 0.03% to $39. 6 million.
• Environmental Quality: Down 2.84% to $66.7 million.
• Fish and Game: Down 3% to $124.0 million.
• Soil and Water Conservation Commission: Down 1.5% to $3.3 million.
• Water Resources: Down 0.0077% to $27.0 million.