Elks in town
The Idaho Elks Lodge was in town visiting with legislators about their important community service work. Dan Tackett from Grangeville is vice president. He is one of the most civically-minded people in Grangeville. The Elks served root beer floats to legislators while they talked about the community service of Elks statewide.
The Elks are involved in a number of charities. The Idaho State Elks Association has developed one of the country’s premier physical rehabilitation networks, the Elks Rehab System.
I was able to attend the Lincoln Day events of both the Idaho County Republican Central Committee and the Clearwater County Republican Central Committee. Excellent crowds, enjoyed comradery and featured speaker Loren Spivack, “The Free Market Warrior.”
Hats off to Marge Arnzen and LeeAnn Callear for doing the big end of the organizing for these events!
The finance committee (JFAC), of which I am a member, finished budget recommendations to the House and the Senate. We started with cutting the governor’s recommendation by about $45 million and proposed funding of Medicaid starting in January. We funded this with savings from other budgets so education funds wound not be cut. It’s complicated, but I believe we have a tough problem to solve. The real, long term solution is to lower medical costs. And we better get to work on that! We will see what the rest of the legislature thinks.
Career technical for Kellogg – Silver Valley
There is a new, privately funded educational opportunity for the Silver Valley! This is planned to start perhaps this spring. Ron Nilson of Ground Force, Post Falls has identified a need in the Silver Valley for kids who want to stay in the area after graduation. These students may not want to go on to college, but want to make a good living in the area they were raised.
Ron put together KTEC in Coeur d’Alene, which by all accounts is a grandly successful, privately funded effort that is a template for the Silver Valley effort.
We met with Governor Little and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sherry Ybarra, to create the awareness to get this project of the ground.
I have received a lot of communication from you about adding or not adding requirements – sideboards – to Medicaid eligibility. There is a major battle down here about that. As of this moment, it looks doubtful that the legislature will accept the sideboard idea. Not because it is such a bad thing, it just looks like it may cost more than the gain. BUT, anything is possible! It is in the House, and is not yet to the Senate.
Medicaid expansion is something not everyone is enthusiastic about, I know. However, it is the law now. The funding package for it is a kind of phase in approach, much like a business would do. We will know a lot more about the economy and the actual numbers in a year than we know now.
The recommendation is to fund 6 months, starting in January of next year. Money was pulled from several budget’s medical expenses to fund the state’s share. Then, that money will be leveraged with federal funds 10:90.
There has been a lot of work put into finding solutions to this Medicaid law and it’s financial obligations.
Big battles on the School Funding Formula. I think it is largely down to personality conflicts over which of two bills had the most public input. Also, there is substantive discussion on where teacher salaries should be decided. Should the state or the school boards have the most authority? This whole formula issue is on a minute-to-minute basis right now, as to where it goes. I will be in the middle of this, with a significant voice, advocating for rural schools in our area.
I always enjoy hearing from you. If you have specific interest on bills, please let me know and I will run them down for you. Send me an email to email@example.com.
All the best,