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Eye On Boise

Testimony: ‘Put money where our mouth is,’ ‘Lives could be saved,’ ‘We’ve stripped our system bare’

Among those testifying this morning to the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on state budget issues:

Donna Yule, executive director of Idaho Public Employees Association, urged JFAC to adopt the “responsible alternative” budget proposed by the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, which would shift funds from tax cuts and large deposits to state reserves into education funding, state employee raises, and restoring services cut from Medicaid. She said everyone in the Capitol says education, the state’s workforce and medical care are top priorities. “And yet the spending in these really belies that notion,” she said. “It’s time to start putting our money where our mouth is.”

Frank Monasterio of Mountain Home, with Catholic Charities of Idaho, urged lawmakers to expand Medicaid. “I want to press the importance of accepting the optional federal funds in Medicaid,” he said. “I feel it is my duty as a faithful and active citizen to promote Christian values of justice, compassion and responsibility. … Five hundred lives could be prevented from being prematurely ended if we expand Medicaid. State and local taxpayers would save $479 million over the next 10 years,” and the economy would add hundreds of jobs.

Laura Scuri urged improvement in Idaho’s mental health system. “I want you to know that Optum has reacted well to your directives, the call times are down. But we’ve stripped our system bare,” she said. “We need to step back and develop a system of care that meets the unique needs … in Idaho.”

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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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