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Contents

  • Marinette Marine Funding
  • Budget Update
  • Step Therapy Passes Senate
  • School Groups Visit Capitol

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HOPE Agenda

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Marinette Marine Funding Passes Budget 

 

Yesterday, Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance voted to commit to making Marinette Marine a priority this budget. This investment will help Marinette Marine continue to compete on the world stage for years to come. This is a critical investment in our shipbuilding industry which will help it maintain its competitive edge.

 

Yesterday’s action provides $29 million in Harbor Assistance grant funding for Marinette Marine. This funding would be used for dredging, construction, and capital equipment associated with Fincantieri Marinette Marine's facilities improvements related to the company's application for a federal shipbuilding contract for frigates (a highly maneuverable, armed naval ship). Earlier this budget, Rep. Nygren helped guide through the Joint Committee on Finance $2 million in workforce training grants for Marinette Marine.

 

“With over 160 suppliers around the state, an employment impact of over 5,400 jobs, and a $4.4 billion economic impact in northeastern Wisconsin alone, it’s clear how much Marinette Marine means to Wisconsin, and speaks to how much Wisconsin will lose if Marinette Marine falls behind.”

 

Over the last couple years I have helped shepherd crucial investments for the Northeastern Wisconsin shipbuilding economy, putting Wisconsin on the world stage. In early 2013, a grant of $5 million was awarded to construct the Wisconsin Maritime Center of Excellence. In 2016, the Center received a $500,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The Center is a business incubator for the growing shipbuilding economy. I also played a critical role in securing a $5 million Harbor Assistance Grant for shipyard improvements in December 2018.

 

“This is not just important to northeastern Wisconsin, but important for Wisconsin as a whole. I would like to thank my Republican colleagues for recognizing the need to invest in northeastern Wisconsin’s economy and Marinette Marine.

 

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Budget Update

 

Health and Children and Families Budget

This week, the Joint Committee on Finance met to take up some of the more important issue areas. On Tuesday, we discussed the Department of Health Services and the Department of Children and Families.

Republican members of the Joint Committee on Finance made historic investments aimed at increasing healthcare access and affordability for millions of Wisconsinites. Republicans on the committee voted to provide $1.6 billion in all funds to expand access and care. We were able to fund many of the priorities we heard from citizens across the state, without expanding welfare. These are bipartisan initiatives supported by numerous stakeholders.

The number one issue we heard about during our budget listening sessions as we traveled the state was healthcare workforce. There is no denying the dire need for investments in our healthcare workforce surrounding direct caregivers and personal care workers who serve our most vulnerable.

I am happy to report that the message was received and Republicans voted to support these priorities at historic levels, well above Governor Evers’ budget. No amount of rhetoric or spin can argue the fact that many of our investments in healthcare exceeded the Governor’s proposal.

  • Increase funding for nursing homes by $30 million GPR over the biennium:
    • This is approximately a 6% increase in nursing home reimbursement rates, we are also including a 1% acuity rate increase as a part of the MA cost to continue.
    • The Governor's budget only increased this by $10.7 million
  • Increase funding for Personal Care Workers by $37 million over the biennium:
    • Change from the current rate of $16.73 to a new hourly rate of $18.24 starting July 1, 2019.
    • This rate increase is about 9% in the first year and includes an additional 3% in the second year.
  • Increase funding for Direct Caregivers in Family Care by $27 million over the biennium:
    • Over the biennium, we are more than doubling the base funding for the direct care workforce funding initiative.
    • The Governor only increased this by $12 million over the biennium
  • We made substantial increases in Children and Family Aids by $30.5 million over the biennium.

I now ask Governor Evers: Will you veto these significant increases in access and affordability just because they aren’t funded by expanding welfare? Because if you do, it is more clear than ever that Medicaid expansion isn’t about expanding access to care, but simply playing politics with people's healthcare.

 

Transportation and Broadband Budget

The committee voted to make historic investments in broadband and our roads this week.  The committee included more funding for local roads than the Governor recommended, funded all major road projects the Governor recommended, and even were able to add more funding for additional road projects.  This included funding for the expansion of I-41 to six lanes.

 

The committee actions include:

  • Increasing funding for broadband by $44 million which quadruples the amount approved in the previous budget.
  • Providing $397 million in additional revenues for transportation excluding a one-time $90 million General Fund transfer.  This is a total $487 million in additional revenue for transportation in the 2019-21 biennium. This is the largest increase in new revenue in over a generation.
  • A 19% increase in state highway rehabilitation raising the funding to the largest amount ever and maintaining our road conditions.
  • Authorizing the lowest level of bonding since the 2001-03 budget and less than the Governor recommended.
  • Providing a 10% increase in general transportation aids for local governments that matches the Governor.  These local road increases build on massive local increases in the last budget that were the largest since 1998.
  • Providing $90 million in one-time GPR would triple what we currently spend on the Local Road Improvement Program and reducing the local match so more local governments can utilize the program.
   
Step Therapy Passes Senate

 

I am happy to see that the bill that I authored with Senator Darling, aimed at expanding access to care for patients around the state, passed with unanimous support.

 

This common-sense, bipartisan legislation aims to provide exceptions to step-therapy protocols. I first was introduced to this issue through my work on substance abuse and the HOPE Agenda. Someone with an addiction is in a fragile state medically, and often, different forms of treatment may not work for many of them. In a life and death situation like substance abuse, affording flexibility to a physician is not only necessary, it’s the right thing to do.

 

After discussions with the Alliance of Health Insurers, the Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, and several patient advocacy groups, we crafted a bill that keeps the spirit, integrity, and patient protections of the original bill, while still ensuring the health plans have the ability to meaningfully utilize step therapy protocols in order to keep costs down.

 

The bill creates transparency for patients in how step therapy protocols are created. It also creates a clear exceptions process for patients, and will ensure that patients are able to access the healthcare their doctor is prescribing for them.  At the same time, the bill provides more flexibility for health plans and will ensure they are still able to use step therapy protocols in a meaningful way to keep costs down.

 

I would like to thank Senator Darling for shepherding this bill through the Senate. Additionally I’d like to express my gratitude to my Senate colleagues for their swift action on this bill.

I look forward to passing this in the Assembly soon.

 

Here is a photo of me with Step Therapy advocates for when they held their advocacy day in Madison:

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 School Groups Visit Capitol

One of my favorite parts of representing you in Madison is welcoming constituents to the Capitol and showing them what I do on a daily basis. This week, I had the honor of meeting with two school groups and showing them around the Capitol.

 

I started the week on Monday hosting 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders from Bay Harbor Elementary and then on Wednesday I welcomed 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders from Abrams Elementary school.

 

The students asked good questions about my role as a Representative in the legislature. The future is bright!

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 |State Capitol | Post Office Box 8953 | Madison, Wisconsin 53708 (608) 266-2344 | Toll Free: (888) 534-0089 | Fax: (608) 282-3689 |Rep.Nygren@legis.wi.gov |