The Governor’s State of the State address recommends a $2.9 billion budget. Governor Otter is seeking to increase the spending percent by 3.7% or $107 million.
Again, I am a committee member of the Finance, Judiciary, and Health and Welfare Committees. In the committees, the rules derived from the 2013 legislation are being reviewed to determine how state departments are implementing changes to the laws passed last year.
The Finance committee is reviewing the Health and Welfare department budget, which includes expenses for health insurance exchange,
Medicaid, and other health agencies. The governor has recommended paying for health insurance increases for state employees. The increases are imposed by Obamacare on the insurance companies who are passing it on to the state. I am not supportive of the taxpayers of Idaho having to pay for state employee’s insurance increase due to Obamacare. I would rather support a wage increase so that they can choose how to spend their money.
The Health and Welfare committee passed rules which Obamacare demands for applying for subsidies and Medicaid on the exchange. These are called MAGI rules. I voted against a DEQ rule that increased unnecessary regulations for medical incinerators. Plans are being made to set up 3 Behavioral Health Community Crisis Centers in Boise, Idaho Falls, and Coeur d’Alene. I am enthused about this program.
The Joint Judiciary & Rules committee reported on an analysis on new policy approaches to avert recidivism (when inmates are sent back to prison within 3 years of being released). The report notes that the biggest problem deals with probation and parole. Most states have 3 years for probation whereas Idaho has 5 years. I agree with the report and favor reducing the years of probation.
Common Core is being evaluated and discussed. With Senator Steven Thayn’s help, we are hoping to avert the disaster of this program. Watch for my letter to the editor on this topic.
Religious freedom and firearms will be big issues also this session.