by Glenn Mosley
Idaho Public Radio
Medicaid expansion, the state budget, and broadband were among the topics as Idaho District 5 state lawmakers spoke about the upcoming legislative session during a ‘Legislative Send Off’ hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce on December 11.
Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R), who will serve on JFAC, the budget writing committee, says there’s concern about tax collections. “They’re estimating there’s between 30,000 and 40,000 residents of Idaho who are under-reporting on their taxes, and instead of getting a tax rebate, they’re going to get a tax bill,” she said. “A lot of folks spend money at Christmas and make it up with their tax returns, and I’m really concerned about those folks.”
(The Idaho Tax Commission says recent tax laws have changed the amount of income taxes withheld from paychecks. Those who did not make a withholding adjustment “could have an unexpected tax bill” when filing the 2018 income tax return.)
(Photo: District 5 State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, December 11, 2018)
(The Idaho Division of Financial Management says the current fiscal year shortfall in state tax revenues versus what was forecast is $62.9 million, 4.3% lower than the forecast.)
Troy said one of the ways legislative leaders are talking about funding the Medicaid expansion approved by voters is to capture all of the funding from the Millennium Fund. “Which is unfortunate,” she said, “because that’s really been helpful keeping some of these recovery centers going across the state.
“I think they’re going to look to the counties. They feel very clearly that in the Idaho Constitution the counties have a constitutional responsibility for indigent care, and so they’re going to look to the counties for the money that the counties have been spending for those folks that are in the gap or indigent care and try to capture that,” Troy said.
(The Idaho State Treasurer says the Idaho Millennium Fund “was established as an endowment fund to receive, invest, and disburse funds that the State of Idaho is receiving as a result of the master settlement agreement reached with tobacco companies.”)
Rep. Troy will also serve as vice-chair of the House Agricultural Affairs Committee and on the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee.
District 5 has two new legislators in the Idaho State Legislature, Rep. Bill Goesling (R) and Sen. David Nelson (D).
“I’m very excited to be your senator,” Nelson said.
(Photo: District 5 State Sen. David Nelson, December 11, 2018)
Nelson noted that all three lawmakers will serve on agriculture committees, and said “Rural Latah ought to benefit.”
Nelson will also serve on the Senate Transportation Committee. “I have to say I heard more about transportation during my election when I was talking to folks out in Moscow than I heard about any other issue,” he said. “I’m awfully glad that Highway 95 south is in progress.”
Nelson, who will also serve on the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said his biggest priority is Proposition 2, Medicaid expansion, saying he will “work hard to make sure we don’t put any extensive bureaucratic hurdles into doing it.”
Rep. Bill Goesling told the gathering that the recent North Idaho Legislative Tour was “fantastic,” but added that “What really surprised me the most was the lack of knowledge by some of our people from down south.” He said the tour really helps to open eyes and that in two years it will be in Lewiston.
“I was also very much impressed with the cooperation between the University of Idaho, LCSC, and North Idaho College,” Goesling said, referring to programs being offered in the Coeur d’Alene area. “Phenomenal facilities we have up there and it’s really working well.”
(Photo: District 5 State Rep. Bill Goesling, December 11, 2018)
Goesling said that when he attended the recent orientation in Boise for new legislators, he was “totally blown away by the quality of the individuals” who work for the state. “You could walk into research and say ‘I would like a bill on this subject’ and they take off and they go on it.”
Goesling will serve on the House committees on education, agriculture, and judiciary, rules and administration.
On implementing the new Medicaid law, Goesling spoke about reaching across the aisle, saying, “I’m a firm believer that a healthy workforce is a healthy economy.”
Goesling also discussed improving broadband services. “The one thing that I really would like to work on is broadband,” he said. “We really need to look at our broadband services across the state.”
The lawmakers, local officials and local business leaders committed to staying in regular contact throughout the legislative session, which convenes January 7 with the State of the State Address by new Governor Brad Little. JFAC gets started on January 8.
Posted December 12, 2018