Idaho’s state budget news is bleak, lawmakers heard as they gathered today for the interim meeting of the Legislature’s joint budget committee: One in five Idaho school districts has declared a financial emergency. State prisons are managing 500 more offenders than a year ago, with $28 million less in funding. Part-time state employees already hit with furloughs and other cutbacks will face sharp increases in their health insurance premiums. And Idaho’s Medicaid program could see a shortfall so extreme it’d have to eliminate 23 percent of the health benefits it provides to the state’s poor and disabled.
“It’s breathtaking,” said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, vice-chairwoman of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “I think everyone in Idaho needs to understand where we’re at, and be prepared to sacrifice in a lot of ways. They need to communicate to us what their priorities are - what can they do without in services, and what do they feel they absolutely have to have, and how do they want to pay for that?” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210
Main switchboard: (509) 459-5000 • (800) 338-8801
Newsroom: (509) 459-5400 • (800) 789-0029
Customer service: (800) 338-8801