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A birthday budget

After months and months of intensive study and long hearings by a variety of committees and subcommittees, lawmakers set a budget for Medicaid this morning that adds $10 million above the governor’s recommendation to cover expected increases in caseloads. That comes after every other piece of the state Health & Welfare budget was closely scrutinized and various savings were targeted, to allow more money to go into medical care.

Health and Welfare Director Karl Kurtz, looking fit and healthy after months of recovering from a serious illness, told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, “We are very delighted and very pleased with the actions of the committee.”

What he didn’t say – but lawmakers quickly pointed out – was that today is his birthday.

“Director Kurtz, here the birthday person brings the cake,” committee Co-Chairwoman Maxine Bell said to laughter.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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