First of all, brace yourselves for a flurry of emails on Medicaid expansion and property tax caps. Over the next week, the House will consider 2-3 bills related to Medicaid expansion, including the role of counties in funding Medicaid expansion. There are two competing Medicaid expansion funding bills. The first bill, House Bill 600 directs counties to fund 30% of the cost of Medicaid expansion. The county share will come from sales tax revenue sharing which will be diverted off the top of the total county share. The second proposal (yet to be assigned a bill number) does not reduce county revenue sharing. It instead eliminates state general funding for public health districts and requires counties to fund the state share of public health districts to at least 2020 levels. Both proposals either eliminate the county medically indigent program or limit program eligibility to the point that very few will qualify.
Ultimately, the decision made by legislators regarding how to fund Medicaid expansion will be one of policy: does the legislature want to divert revenue sharing away from counties to fund Medicaid expansion or does it want to push costs related to funding public health districts on to counties. As you evaluate the alternatives, consider the same policy question: would your county rather lose a portion of its annual revenue sharing or would your county prefer to retain all revenue sharing and instead provide additional funding to public health districts.
The issue of addressing Medicaid expansion funding may be divisive among the IAC membership. We want to provide the IAC Legislative Committee with the best information we can. To that end, I encourage you to email me and let me know your preferred alternative. We will make sure the IAC Legislative Committee is aware of the preferences of the membership.
On the property tax front, the Senate amended House Bill 409 earlier this morning. As amended, it is no longer a property tax budget freeze bill. As the bill now stands, it proposes an annual cap on property tax budget increases of 4% for up to three years. There are two exceptions to the cap: new construction related to the closure of a revenue allocation area and new construction related to the termination of a property tax exemption granted pursuant to Section 63-602NN, Idaho Code. The amended bill will next be voted on by the full Senate, likely later this week. Please reach out to your Senator(s) and let them know how your county will be impacted by the new 4% cap.
We’ll be releasing more information on these and other legislative issues as new information becomes available. Please provide prompt feedback to enable us to fully understand the impact of these and other proposals on your county.