2016 Legislative Preview: WA to focus on education, ID on medica - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

2016 Legislative Preview: WA to focus on education, ID on medical coverage gap

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Washington state lawmakers say 2016 really will be the year they focus on reforming the way the state pays for education. Washington state lawmakers say 2016 really will be the year they focus on reforming the way the state pays for education.
OLYMPIA, Wash. -

Washington state lawmakers say 2016 really will be the year they focus on reforming the way the state pays for education.
    
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan says the Legislature is under pressure from both the courts and state law to finally resolve the complicated budget issues at the heart of the Supreme Court decision known as the McCleary decision.
    
The Legislature is under a 2018 deadline to finish paying for its previous commitments to improve education funding, and to fix the state's overreliance on local school levies to pay for basic education, including teacher salaries.
    
Although lawmakers have many other priorities this year - from mental health to state prisons and wildfires - Speaker Frank Chopp says nothing will take priority over education funding.

Meanwhile, Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter has announced a new $30 million program that would provide coverage for basic medical care to nearly 78,000 Idahoans that neither qualify for health insurance subsidies or Medicaid.
    
Otter told reporters at Associated Press Legislative Preview Thursday that he will ask Idaho lawmakers to approve the new plan during this year's legislative session, which begins next week.
    
The plan is a state-funded alternative to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act - an option the Republican-dominated Idaho Statehouse has rejected repeatedly
    
Legislative leaders voiced support for the plan immediately following the Republican governor's announcement, but offered no promises it would pass.
    
According to the proposal, qualifying participants would be adults who currently have no access to affordable coverage and who fall below the federal poverty level.
    
They would be eligible to receive preventive primary medical care services. The program would not cover hospital stays, emergency room visits or specialty care.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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