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Eye On Boise

Sorting through the numbers

JFAC has launched into Health & Welfare budgets, starting with the complex budgets for the newly reformed Medicaid program. A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has worked on each piece of the budget, which includes so many parts that Health & Welfare budgets will take up much of both today’s and tomorrow’s budget-setting. Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, raised issues with the very first motion, made by Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, regarding Medicaid administration. Fulcher said he recognized all the hard work that had gone into the budget, which includes the complex reprocurement process for a Medicaid information system that’s being largely funded by the federal government. So, he said, “I don’t want to just take a dump on it.” But, he said, “I’m not sure we’re going in the right direction.” The motion passed, 16-3.

Wood said by the time all the motions are debated, Idaho will spend roughly $543 million in state general funds on Health & Welfare programs. If all the various motions that committee members have worked on are approved, he said, “We come in within $20,000” of Gov. Butch Otter’s recommendation. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some variations within the parts of the budget, he said. “We’ve paid particular attention, tried to make sure that the taxpayer’s dollar was wisely spent.”

Continuing with its ambitious budget-setting agenda, JFAC is scheduled to do half of Health & Welfare today, and then set budgets for the Industrial Commission, the state treasurer’s office, the Idaho Millenium Fund, state colleges and universities, and community colleges. It’s not clear whether they’ll get to all of those today, but they might.

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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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