April 05, 2007
No deal yet in Frew lawsuit

The Frew lawsuit over Medicaid has been the subject of negotiations between the victorious plaintiffs and various legislators with budget responsibilities, but as of yesterday there was no deal yet.

Susan Zinn, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said she had hoped the two sides would reach an agreement Wednesday.

"The legislators and the agencies are acting in good faith," Zinn said Wednesday evening. "We've been trying very hard all day to work this out. I think we're closer to working everything out than we were earlier today."

She met Wednesday with the heads of the budget-writing committees in the House and Senate, top lawyers from the attorney general's office and Health and Human Services Commissioner Albert Hawkins, among others.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, said lawmakers are trying to settle the case to keep the decisions out of the hands of Justice, who's been known to cause headaches for tight-fisted lawmakers.

"We don't feel very comfortable relying on Judge Justice to give us any slack," Chisum said.

Perhaps that's because the Lege doesn't do well in these matters unless given strict, can't-be-weaseled-out-of guidelines. Remember how the West Orange/Cove lawsuit was supposed to be about school finance? Give these guys an inch, and they'll turn Frew into an excuse for further property tax cuts. Patricia Kilday Hart has more on this.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 05, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo