Sunday, February 21, 2010

states ain't seen nothin yet....,

NYTimes | “Because of the decline in state revenues,” Mr. Douglas said, “43 states cut $31 billion from their budgets in 2009. For fiscal year 2010, even with nearly $30 billion in new revenue, 36 states have been forced to cut $55 billion. Thirty states have cut elementary, secondary and higher education.”

Given these problems, governors of both parties expressed concern about plans by Democrats in Congress to expand Medicaid, the program for low-income people.

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said the health bills passed by the House and the Senate would impose “an enormous unfunded mandate on states,” forcing them to pick up $25 billion in new costs over 10 years.

Mr. Barbour explained what this would mean in Mississippi: “Either the state income tax or the state sales tax or both would have to be raised. We would add 300,000 people to the Medicaid rolls. It’s about a 50 percent increase.”

Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington, a Democrat, said that despite such concerns, she was “a huge champion of national health care reform.”

“You can’t take little nibbles at health care reform,” Ms. Gregoire said. “It’s got to be comprehensive.”

Ms. Gregoire said she had told the top Democrats in Congress that they might want to delay the expansion of Medicaid if states were still in economic distress in a few years.

“If we don’t come out of this recession and if I have to absorb new costs, I don’t know how I would do it,” Ms. Gregoire said. “We would be hard-pressed to pick up the tab. But that’s not to say we should not move forward on health care reform. Doing nothing would be the biggest mistake.”