Among the testimony from the public at this morning's public hearing on the state budget:
Mary Rumple, mother of a son with disabilities, told the lawmakers, "He will live most of his life without me to care for him. ... Please consider that individuals with special needs are not just going to go away if you cut their services."
Briana LeClaire of the Idaho Freedom Foundation said her group proposes an alternative state budget with $125 million in tax cuts and virtually no increases in spending. "One of the best things the Legislature can do to improve the quality of life in Idaho is by allowing Idahoans to keep more of their own money," she said. She decried the "K-12 education monopoly" and said, "Real school choice where public money would follow the child to the school providing the service would be an education miracle cure."
Sharon McWilliams of Boise said, "I've got a disability, my hand shakes real bad. I can't fix my meals by myself." Help from an aide allows her to prepare meals, she said. "If we don't have her, I don't know what we'll do. I'm just asking you not to cut any more off the Medicaid program."
Marilyn Sword of the Developmental Disabilities Council noted that Gov. Butch Otter has called for using Idaho's "modest surplus" for some additional funds to public schools, higher education, tax relief, reserves, and one-time bonuses for state employees, but not to restore Medicaid cuts. "Moving a modest amount of these surplus funds to restore reductions made last year to Medicaid would make good economic sense," she said. "For every dollar in state funds, Idaho receives another $2.30 in federal funds." The result would be jobs and an economic boost as well as addressing health problems and preserving dignity for the vulnerable, she said.