New Legislative Session Underway

New Legislative Session Underway

State lawmakers face budget challenges during 2014 session.

Legislators are still facing some of the same challenges this year with the state budget. 


State representative Steve Clouse says all is well with the educational trust fund budget, but it's a different story when it comes to the general fund budget.

"That's where our big problem is going to be is on the general fund budget to fund things like medicaid, dept. Of human resources, mental health, public safety, corrections, those will be the big items, said Clouse.


He says the biggest challenge with the general fund budget is Medicaid.


"The Medicaid agency is saying they need at least 70 to 85 million more than what they got last year, and with a budget that's been flat, that's gonna be hard to do,” Clouse said.


He also said the Affordable Care Act will put an additional strain on the budget.


"It's going to cost our education health insurance plan about 65 million additional dollars.  It's going to cost our state employees' health insurance plan about an additional 12 million dollars."


But we spoke with State Representative Dexter Grimsley, and he says the Affordable Care Act should have no effect on the budget.


"I don't think it's going to affect it at all, because we're not expanding as a state to accept the Affordable Care Act.  I really thought that it would be an opportunity for us to get some economic development if we would have expanded as a state,” Grimsley said.


Grimsley agrees that dealing with medicaid expenses is one of the biggest challenges.


"It's gonna be very difficult because Medicaid expenditures is taking up most of the budget in the state, so we just look forward to working with that and trying to make it all work,” said Grimsley.


Clouse says the state pays for 32% of Medicaid costs and that has caused fiscal problems for every state in the last few years.



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