Deficit Budgets

What happens when we set what we call a budget but what we pass actually does not provide a department enough money to pay those businesses who provide services, keep adequate people employed, or maintain the machinery needed to do the job they are charged by law with doing?

What happens when the constitution requires us to fund an adequate education and yet we send schools $128 million less than they need and tell them to figure out which children they will not help or which classes, services and teachers the kids will have to do without?

What happens when it is an election year and law makers hate raising taxes in election years, so they adjourn leaving a fictional budget, knowing they plan to come back half way through the fiscal year to fix the mess they have made, then, only after the elections, raising raising taxes to try to balance a budget for real?

This morning Medicaid sounded desperate in the discussion over $3 to $5 million in cuts to nursing homes and care providers. Depending on how you do the math — but at minimum Medicaid has a $22 million deficit — and the fight we had over this small portion was so intense, I can only imagine now what will happen as they decide what to cut to save the remaining $18 or so million they are still in the hole. And to be clear, this is not shrinking government, these are private employers who provide these services, and they will be laying off people who make very low wages and will go on food stamp to make it through.

When you consider the federal match which provides $80 additional for every $20 we spend, our state loses closer to $100 million in health services with $20 million in cuts of state funding. This is $100 million in health services Idaho will not provide to Idaho's poor, to the children and people with disabilities. And there will be no hearing for those cuts. Those will be done by rule in heat of summer, quietly, no way to stop what unfolds.