A republican lawmaker is criticizing the governor for shifting 15 million dollars from Medicaid to cover state employee salaries. The director of the Department of Management says the transfer was needed to avoid layoffs in public safety and the veterans home. Representative Bill Dix, the chair of the Iowa House budget committee, says the legislature is trying to get away from raiding one fund to cover another. Dix says a lot of what they did this year was trying to get away from business as usual. He says laying off three of four hundred workers doesn’t lead him to believe there would have been catastrophic reduction in services. The management director says the Medicaid program has a surplus, but Dix says the governor may’ve dug the state into a deeper hole come January. He says the Medicaid program has been over budget the last four years, so he has a hard time believing it suddenly has a 15 million dollar surplus. And if it does have a surplus, Dix says the money should go to the Senior Living Trust Fund — a fund that’s supposed to be used to convert nursing homes into assisted living centers. He says seniors should be concerned because of the past borrowing from the fund, and says they’ve been asking the state to repay the funds that have been borrowed from the trust, as he says they have a right to have a place to age gracefully. The governor’s office says the real blame lies with the legislature which underfunded salaries during the spring session. Governor Vilsack issued a statement saying without the transfer, more layoffs would be necessary, causing further drag on the economy.
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