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Ballot Measures

Authorize public hospitals, ancillary to their operations and in furtherance of health care needs in their service areas, to incur indebtedness

November 2, 2010 Idaho General Election
Description:

Shall Section 3C, Article VIII, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended to authorize public hospitals, ancillary to their operations and in furtherance of health care needs in their service areas, to incur indebtedness or liability to purchase, contract, lease or construct or otherwise acquire facilities, equipment, technology and real property for health care operations, provided that no ad valorem tax revenues shall be used for such activities?

This proposed amendment will allow public hospitals to acquire facilities, equipment, technology and real property through a variety of means that aid the public hospital operations, as long as the acquisitions are paid for solely from charges, rents or payments derived from the existing or financed facilities and are not funded by property taxes. Under current Idaho constitutional provisions, public hospitals, as subdivisions of the state of Idaho, have limited ability to incur debt without the approval of a two-thirds vote at an election held for that purpose. This proposed amendment will provide a limited alternative to that two-thirds vote requirement. The use of tax dollars to finance these kinds of investments is prohibited.

Statements FOR the Proposed Amendment

1. The proposed amendment will allow Idaho's public hospitals, which are primarily located in small towns and rural areas, to invest in new medical equipment, facilities and technology to better meet the health care needs of patients in their communities, strengthening Idaho's entire health care system.

2. The proposed amendment will help give public hospitals the resources they need to attract the best medical personnel, spur the economy by creating jobs, and increase operational efficiency through long-term contracts.

3. The proposed amendment keeps in place the safeguards provided in the Idaho Constitution in two ways. First, no tax dollars can be used to finance these investments. Second, the amendment strictly forbids obligating taxpayers or any state, county or other governmental entity with these investments.

Statements AGAINST the Proposed Amendment

1. The existing Idaho constitutional requirement mandating a two-thirds assent of the voters before a public hospital can enter into long-term debt is an important safeguard for all Idaho citizens.

2. Adoption of the proposed amendment will limit the right of voters to approve certain debt incurred by the public hospitals.

3. Changes to the Constitution should be made only for major issues of interest to the state or in the event of a constitutional crisis.

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