Top 11 Budget Provisions
June 24, 2011
Now that the 2011-2013 biennial budget has been passed by both the Assembly and the Senate, I thought you might appreciate information on some of the most talked about provisions. In response to the thousands of letters, emails and phone calls I received during the budget process, I put together a list of the issues that I heard about most. Below is a short summary of the top 11 issues concerning the citizens of the 46th Assembly District. This is by no means a complete list. The budget is a lengthy document covering all manner of issues, but it is my hope that this letter will provide some helpful insights on the issues that matter to you.
I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me in regards to the budget for their dedication in advocating for what’s best for our great state. Please know that I remain committed to finding solutions which best serve my constituents and the people of Wisconsin. As such, after careful deliberation and feedback from my constituents, I decided to vote against the biennial budget. With over $1.6 billion in cuts to education and over $466 million in cuts to healthcare, I felt that the budget was filled with wrong choices that will hurt our middle class and will fail to set Wisconsin on the path towards economic growth.
Regardless of the setbacks contained in the budget, I will continue the fight for our working families to ensure that our area’s interests are represented. It truly is an honor to serve as your State Representative.
With Warmest Regards,
46th Assembly District
TOP 11 BUDGET PROVISIONS FOR THE 46th ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
Cuts to K-12 Education – A floor amendment was adopted to allow certain school districts to increase their school levy to provide additional funding for education through property taxes.
The Joint Committee on Finance adopted language which would provide an additional $49.2 million to schools statewide over the 2 year budget. This represents an 8.1 percent cut compared to current funding levels and puts state support for schools at 61.4 percent.
Health Care – The budget cuts state support for all Medical Assistance programs, including BadgerCare, BadgerCare Plus, BadgerCare Plus Core, Medicaid, Medicare, and SeniorCare, by over $190.5 million. This cut in state funding will result in the loss of over $293.8 million in federal matching funds, equaling a total cut of $466,580,700 to the medical assistance program over the 2 years of the budget.
Specific changes to BadgerCare programs, Medicaid, Medicare and SeniorCare, including changes to program eligibility, services and recipient co-payment requirements, are unknown at this time and will be subject to the discretion of the Department. Any Department policy changes will be subject to review by the Joint Committee on Finance.
WiscNet and Federal Broadband Grants – A floor amendment was adopted to keep WiscNet and the federal broadband grants associated with the program largely intact. WiscNet is a not-for-profit network service under the auspices of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that provides high-speed internet access to three-quarters of our public schools, as well as public libraries, UW Campuses and other public entities. Under the new language of the budget bill, WiscNet can continue operating with its current membership and service offerings and has had its funding restored. The new budget language also requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to complete a financial and program evaluation of WiscNet by January 1, 2013. Additionally, all work that has started under the Federal Broadband grants can continue as scheduled, but any new work must be approved by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. At this point in time no grant monies will be returned to the federal government.
Separation of UW-Madison from the UW-System – The Joint Committee on Finance deleted all provisions relating to separating UW-Madison from the UW-System. Under the language the Committee adopted, current law would remain in place.
Animal Research – A floor amendment was adopted which dictates that scientific researchers would be exempt from current law on crimes against animals only if the teaching, research or experimentation was conducted in accordance with the protocol or procedure of their educational or research institution.
Conversion of a Credit Union to a Savings Bank or Banks – A floor amendment was adopted which creates new requirements for notifying members of the conversion of a credit union to a bank. A notice will need to be sent three times, and must include information notifying members about the vote to convert, the methods of voting, and the time, date and place of the special member meeting on conversion.
Outsourcing of Local Road Projects – A floor amendment was adopted to remove a provision inserted into the budget by the Joint Committee on Finance which would have required counties to use private companies for any highway improvement projects over $100,000. Under the floor amendment, current law will remain in place for highway improvement projects funded under the local roads improvement program. For all other highway improvement projects, the amendment prohibits a county from using its own workforce on a project that is entirely outside the county’s jurisdiction or on projects for a city or village with a population over 5,000.
Beer Distributors – The Joint Committee on Finance inserted a provision into the state budget that restricts craft brewers’ ability to wholesale other brewers’ beer, own taverns, and creates uncertainty among contract brewers.
A floor amendment was put forth which would have deleted this provision from the budget, but the amendment failed to pass. A legislative effort is currently underway to petition the Governor to remove this provision by the Governor’s line item veto.
Phosphorous – The Joint Committee on Finance deleted a provision from the budget which would have prevented the Department of Natural Resources from creating rules limiting the discharge of phosphorous. Due to this action, current law restrictions on phosphorous discharge will remain in place.
Recycling Grant Program – The Joint Committee on Finance adopted a provision which restored $40 million in funding to the Municipal and County Recycling Grant Program which was slated for elimination under Governor Walker’s budget proposal. This will result in a $24.2 million cut to the program which provides financial assistance to local recycling programs statewide.
Women’s Health – The Joint Committee on Finance adopted a provision which prohibits organizations that receive state money for women’s health services from providing funds to outside organizations that provide abortions or abortion referrals. A floor amendment was put forth which would have removed this language from the budget, but the amendment failed to pass.