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Friday, April 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

Testimony: Infant-toddler program ‘has come up short,’ school funding, mental health services…

Continued testimony at the JFAC public hearing this morning, at which more than 40 people have now testified:

Kristi Young, mother of a child with cerebral palsy, said, “The infant-toddler program’s budget has come up short, and it’s affecting families.” She said, “This program provides intervention to families regardless of their ability to pay or their income – it’s a blessing.” Early intervention can make all the difference in the life of a child with special needs, she said.

Katherine Hansen’s voice broke as she thanked lawmakers for listening for the past few years, as they restored certain specific cuts in services for the disabled that had been eliminated through budget cuts. She noted that bills moving through this year would restore non-emergency dental services for disabled people on Medicaid, and restore employment supports that allow people with development disabilities to hold down a job. “Consider the responsible alternative to the executive budget,” she said. “In that budget, there actually is an opportunity to begin to rebuild a quality and sustainable community-based service delivery system for people with disabilities. The cuts and changes these past five years, as you know, have impacted agencies and people with disabilities significantly.” The cuts forced a change, she said, “from a community-based model to a segregated, center-based model.” Providers haven’t seen a rate increase since 8 years ago, and that one was for just 1.9 percent, she said.

Earline Worthley, 75, a retired teacher from Weiser, said Idaho needs to commit to funding schools and show its teachers it respects them. Her husband, Steve Worthley, echoed her education funding concerns, and added his opposition to funding the Galloway Dam on the Weiser River, which he called “a boondoggle and a tragedy, and just a waste of money.”

Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson backed the three community crisis centers proposed next year for Idaho’s three largest metropolitian areas. “Looking at the issue of mental illness and suicide in our state … this is long overdue, needed, upstream, proactive early intervention best practice effort that myself and law enforcement in the state strongly supports,” he said.

Mike Lanza, a Boise parent, said the amount of funding Gov. Butch Otter has proposed to implement education task force recommendations “would put Idaho behind the 8-ball if this is a 5-year rollout.” He said,  “I hope you will look seriously at the alternative state budget proposed by former state economist Mike Ferguson. … The governor’s budget gives priority to putting money in reserve accounts and giving a tax break for large corporations and top earners. Mr. Ferguson’s alternative budget gives priority to education. … This is economically feasible.”

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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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