A bewildering array of numbers, federal programs, individual titles and sections of the stimulus bill and changing rules was spun out to legislative budget writers this morning as they heard the first details on what the stimulus legislation means for Idaho’s health and human services programs. Among them: Idaho will automatically receive a huge boost in funding for low-income home weatherization - jumping the funding up from about $5 million a year to $31 million over two years. That program has been weatherizing about 1,400 Idaho homes a year; now funding will triple for two years. Legislative budget analyst Amy Castro said if the work were targeted to homes where families receive federal LIHEAP energy assistance help, it could reduce future costs for that and allow that aid to go to more families.
The biggest impact is a large increase to the federal match rate for Idaho’s Medicaid program. Idaho will qualify for a boost from just under 70 percent federal funding to just over 79 percent. That should save the state’s general fund $52 million in the current fiscal year, and $73 million in 2010 - but those figures are only after the budget cuts that already have been imposed in Medicaid. Castro also described numerous other sections of the stimulus bill and their potential impacts on Idaho, which vary and are quite complex. “I think what you have here is job security,” JFAC Co-Chair Maxine Bell, R-Jerome, told Castro. “There’s not a person in this room that knows what you were saying - perhaps one senator.”