Members of the Senate Appropriations committee are asking for more transparency when using contingency funds to cover unexpected costs. Senate Bill 177 appropriates money for unanticipated costs in medical services, inmate health care, and health insurance for state employees. It also authorizes the interim appropriations committee to approve those funds before they’re used.
Jason Dilges is the Commissioner of the Bureau of Finance and Management. He says the executive branch is transparent when it implements the legislature’s budget. But Dilges says he’s concerned this legislation will make the process more cumbersome.
“When you vote as a legislature on Senate Bill 177, you are absolutely appropriating this money—we will reserve it, and for purposes of a balanced budget, we will hold it as a special appropriation. So 105 of you have said we’re going to spend this money. If 18 of you decide that you’re not going to, but 105 said you were going to, that’s an unlawful delegation of legislative authority,” Dilges says.
Dilges says legislators need to be careful when giving authority to a committee that might decide not to act as the entire legislative body agreed upon. A majority of committee members think the measure is a good checkpoint before spending money, and Senate Bill 177 is passed out of committee 6 to 3.