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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of April 24 - 30, 2002


The mush diet

Idaho college students may have to turn to a diet of mush to save enough money to pay higher fees.

Mac ‘n’ cheese, long the stable of poor college students, is going to look like haute cuisine after students get done paying higher fees approved by the State Board of Education.

The elderly poor who find themselves without teeth, courtesy of the Idaho Legislature, could also be forced to turn to a mush diet just to survive.

The let-them-eat-mush policies are the work of the Republican-dominated Idaho Legislature.

The state’s colleges and universities are canceling classes and programs to bring budgets into line with $23 million cuts in state funding. Students and their families also will have to pay between $50 and $330 more a year to help the state make ends meet.

College students and the elderly weren’t the beneficiaries of the $100 million tax cuts the Legislature insisted upon maintaining. That money went primarily to businesses and industry—whose executives won’t be dining on mush.

The new student fees are a double-whammy. Many student jobs—the first to go in difficult economic times—already are casualties of the slow economy. Even knowing this, the Legislature turned a cold shoulder to advocates who pleaded the case for higher education.

Then, the Legislature presented a heart of stone to the poor and elderly.

Chasing savings of $7 million, legislators refused to fund basic dental care for people on Medicaid—the sickest and most vulnerable Idahoans. They called the cuts painful, but necessary.

They rolled dental care back a hundred years. Their recommended method of addressing an inflamed tooth? Extraction. And when the elderly have no teeth left to pull? Dentures will not be an option. Gums will have to do.

The Department of Health and Welfare told nursing home managers this month that in cases in which patients cannot get dentures paid for by Medicaid—they should be provided food that is ground, pureed or blended.

How generous.

Maybe it’s time for a grassroots initiative to require the legislators who approved these policies to go on a liquid diet and to pay large monthly fees for the privilege of sitting in those fat comfy chairs in the Capitol.

A few gallons of pureed broccoli, a few pounds of ham paste and a pinch in the personal pocketbook might convince them of the folly and cruelty of policies like these.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.