State Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney was questioned by lawmakers this morning about his proposal to dip into the state’s budget stabilization fund for $35 million next year to offset unfunded liability for state retiree health benefits - if his legislation doesn’t pass to kick retirees off those benefits if they’re eligible for Medicare. “From my understanding, we’re not required to pay the full amount, but kind of pay as we go,” Rep. Darrell Bolz, House Appropriations vice-chair, told Gwartney, asking why he’d propose such a big payment in such tight economic times. Gwartney responded, “It’s a little bit like having a credit card and you only pay the minimum. Is there any requirement we fund it? No, but it would be prudent to do so. … The piper has to be paid someday.”
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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