[Education and Welfare] Medicaid cuts
jasmurphy at sbcglobal.net
Fri Mar 23 20:41:48 CDT 2012
Thanks, De Anna!
----- Original Message -----
From: DeAnna Noriega
To: 'Education and Welfare'
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 8:13 PM
Subject: Re: [Education and Welfare] Medicaid cuts
Hearings are only scheduled by committees when in the process of reviewing new laws or legislation. The sponsor presents the bill at the hearing and testimony is taken from the public, either pro or con or for informational purposes. In the instance of budget bills, the governor submits his budget to the house, then the budget committee can break the different bills up in to sub-committees such as education, social services or propose a house budget. In the instance we are discussing, Chair Silvey presented the bill and took a vote the day he presented it. He did not hold a public hearing, but then he isn't obligated to do that for a budget bill. Often, the chair will hold informational presentations from the agencies or departments that are concerned before the session starts say in December. This is before anyone has had a chance to see what the bills will look like. He might hear the ideas presented by educators or the health department for example. There was no way of anticipating this move on his part to rebalance the higher education shortfall by sacrificing social services. The sub-committees only get to suggest moving money within the budget bill they are working on. So, they might suggest moving some money from head-start, to continue a home schooling budget line item. Moving a line item from one part of the budget to a completely different bill, is something that only the chair could do. When the house finally gets to hear the individual bills on the floor, amendments are presented to try to move funds from one place to another, but the budget must balance. Given the short length of the legislative sessions, there are pages of figures to read and little time to make changes since each move of funds from one place must still add up to the amount of money the state expects to have to spend. This gutting of an established program is pretty unusual. Usually, less money for a program is designated say for something like tobacco cessation, or health care screenings and the department tries to manage with what they are given. Silvey's position appears to be that the governor cut higher education too much and he wants to reverse this by eliminating a program he feels is unduly generous. Since other people with disabilities must live at 85 percent of poverty and are not allowed to have more than a thousand dollars in the bank, then we shouldn't be given special treatment. I think he is correct in saying that such a program wouldn't have been started in today's current revenue shortfall. However, to pull it out from under people leaving them no options but to go without health care, quit part-time or low paid employment, move in to a nursing home because they lose their in-home aid, not be able to save for that video magnifier or or even save enough for a first, last and cleaning deposit to move in to a decent apartment is okay since other people with disabilities are expected to manage under such constraints. Instead of being proud of a program that keeps blind people living in their own homes and living independent lives, they would rather balance the budget by harming a population they view is a drag on society they can no longer afford. I think the governor is correct in believing this has been turned in to a political football. On one hand, Silvey is courting middle class voters who worried about how they will be able to afford rising higher education costs and Governor Nixon is taking the high ground for human decency and some more belt tightening for colleges and universities. The frustrating thing is no one is proposing to solve the revenue shortfall by closing some loopholes and doing common sense things like raising our cigarette tax. Such moves don't fit with the conservative partyline of no more taxes.
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