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Eye On Boise

JFAC hearing wraps up after all get to testify; 44 speak, with top issues school funding, Medicaid, budget priorities

The JFAC public hearing has wrapped up, after just over two hours of public testimony; everyone who signed up to testify got a chance to speak, with a three-minute limit. By my rough count, 44 people testified, with the highest number - 15 - calling for more funding for Idaho schools. The second-biggest topic was Medicaid and mental health services, with a dozen people addressing it. Six people called on JFAC to consider the alternative budget proposed by former state chief economist Mike Ferguson, which would shift funds from tax cuts and big deposits to reserve accounts into education funding, raises for state workers and restoring cuts to Medicaid. Five school district officials from around the state called for continuing funding for the Idaho Education Network. Three called for increasing funding for ag education; two for increased funding for the Idaho State Police.

"People were respectful and concise, and I think compelling," said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, JFAC co-chairman. "I was just very impressed." He noted that close to 80 people attended the hearing, though not all chose to speak. Cameron called the testimony "very impressive and touching." He said he found the comments from Medicaid recipients "memorable," and "the kids, the students that spoke to us .. were I thought just very well-spoken and compelling. I was impressed that we had all three of our education associations in unanimity."

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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