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    June 16, 2017

The Joint Finance Committee made progress towards completing the budget this week. Here is a summary of the committee's actions:
-We rejected the Governor's self-insurance proposal. Although the idea has tremendous merit, there is significant concern about the state baring all the financial risk which would leave the state open to increased budget fluctuations. However, I believe the proposal should continue to be studied and considered in the future if certain concerns are addressed. Taxpayer money will be saved by employing higher deductible plans and HSA (Health Savings Account) plans. The overall savings will approximate the savings in the Governor's self-insurance proposal.

Additionally, we added legislative oversight for future changes proposed by the Group Insurance Board (GIB).

-We approved the Governor's recommendation to discontinue the option for state and local public employees to enter into domestic partnerships for extending certain employee benefits to partners and dependents of partners. A motion was also adopted that will not allow any new domestic partnerships to be created but will allow individuals already in a domestic partnership to retain their status.The domestic partner registry was created when same-sex couples were unable to get married. Since same-sex couples may now marry it makes sense to eliminate the domestic registry and save taxpayer money.
-We approved an additional $8.25 million in increased funding for overtime payments for Department of Corrections (DOC) employees. Additionally, a motion was adopted to require a one time "recognition award" bonus for DOC employees who have served 10 years or more.
-We made earned release programming and vocational training for adults in correctional facilities a priority by increasing our investments to both programs. Staffing was also increased for the earned release program.
-We increased the state's investment in several programs that work to reduce recidivism among adult offenders. The Windows to Work program was increased by $2 million over the biennium and we provided $33,400 annually to expand the Opening Avenues to Reentry Sucesss program (OARS).
-We approved an increase in mental health staffing at certain adult correctional institutions to expand treatment and address recidivism. We also increased mental health support at Copper Lake School (CLS) for girls and increased medical staffing at Lincoln Hills School (LHS) for boys and CLS.
-We adopted a motion directing DOC to implement an alcohol treatment initiative to help address an expected increase in OWI incarcerations due to 2015 Act 371.
The committee will continue action on the budget in the coming weeks until the budget is completed. If you have any questions on any action the committee has taken, please contact my office.


State Capitol - Room 324 East | Post Office Box 8952 | Madison, Wisconsin 53708
(608) 266-9180 | Rep.Kooyenga@legis.wisconsin.gov