Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, says she thinks lawmakers should consider cutting their own health benefits just as the state has cut health coverage for other part-time state employees. “We ought to have that discussion - I don’t think we should shy away from it,” Keough said. She was responding to a column by Dan Popkey in the Idaho Statesman today, which called lawmakers “tone-deaf” on the issue. It noted that all but 18 lawmakers take the coverage that’s the same as that for full-time state employees, though Idaho has a part-time citizen legislature. Keough said she’s one of the 18; she gets her health coverage through her employer.
“I am not rich or retired, I spend on average 20 hours a week off session on legislative responsibilities but am available 24/7 including but not limited to the grocery store, the gas station, romantic dinners with my husband, 4 am in the morning when farmers and loggers start their days. Plus I work a full time job and have 2 kids,” she said in a note to Popkey and other reporters. “During session I work a minimum of 12 hours a day and after that meet with constituents who may be in town with one group or another. All that being said, I was and remain willing to take the same cuts we are asking of our state employees and Idahoans.”