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The president of the Idaho Senate details plans for 2020 session

BOISE — The President Pro Tempore of the Idaho Senate says he’s focused on property taxes for the 2020 legislative session.
Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, told that as the president of the Idaho Senate, he’s expecting some big pieces of legislation this session regarding property taxes and Medicaid expansion.
“Property tax is a big issue this year,” Hill said. “Part of the problem is that the value of homes is going up more quickly than the value of commercial property, particularly in some areas of the state that are growing very rapidly … When people’s property taxes go up a healthy bunch in one or two years, it bothers them.”
Hill is a former Certified Public Accountant and says that is one of the reasons he focuses on taxes.
“I’m a tax person and so I’m working heavily in the tax areas with my colleagues here,” Hill said. “We have a program called the Circuit Breaker Program that is for particularly older people, people of low income, to help them with their property taxes. That will probably be enhanced somewhat.”
While taxes are one of Hill’s main focuses, he’s also working on other legislation including how to fund Medicaid Expansion.
“We need to fund it,” he said. “It’s what the people voted for and so we’re trying to come up with the best way to fund it.”
Medicaid expansion went into effect Jan. 1. but the legislature has not yet passed a funding plan.
Hill said some of the ways they are considering funding Medicaid Expansion include using the savings counties will have as a result of expanded Medicaid, using money from the tobacco settlement funds or funding it with money from the general fund. Another option is cutting back on other programs.
“There’ll be a lot of talk on the proper way to fund it. And it will probably be a combination of many different sources in order to come up with the 41-plus million dollars that we’re going to need to do that,” Hill said.
Another funding issue he hopes to address is making sure funds committed to mental health programs are used wisely.
“We’ll be working closely with the Department of Correction and the Department of Health and Welfare to make sure that funds that are dedicated for mental health treatment, whether that be state funds or federal funds, that we coordinated among the various agencies so that those people who are in need of those services get the best services they can for the money that we have,” he said.

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