Medicaid deficit may impact other state programs

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(Host) Governor Jim Douglas says an increase in the state’s projected Medicaid deficit will make it harder to properly fund other state programs in the coming fiscal year.

The administration learned this week that the deficit in the state’s Medicaid program in the current fiscal year will be between $15 and $20 million, and projections for next year’s deficit could go as high as $70 million.

Douglas says he’s planning a very tight budget for the 2006 fiscal year and the increased Medicaid deficit projections will make this job more difficult:

(Douglas) “I think it’s going to be more challenging than the two previous budgets that I’ve been involved with and ironically it’s not because of a lack of revenue. Our economy is quite strong. We have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, as you know. All the major tax sources are producing quite well. We’re on track to have some growth on a sustainable basis of three or four percent in our revenues. So the problem is the appetite for spending – in many state programs that needs to be restrained.”

(Host) The governor will unveil his budget proposal to the Legislature in the middle of January.

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