We got some good news this week. The Richard I. Bong Memorial Regional Airport will receive $40,000 from the Federal Aviation Administration. These federal dollars will be augmented by state and local investments of over $2,000 each. The prospect of improved air transportation options for businesses and families in the North is important to growth and quality of life in our area. With nearly 50 aircraft based there and over 50 daily airport operations, the Richard I. Bong Airport is already an important part of the area’s economy and is well positioned to support future growth across the region.
With so much discussion recently of infrastructure investments elsewhere in the state, it is good to see these federal and state resources directed to support economic development in Northern Wisconsin. This investment can have a significant impact in stimulating growth as well as paving the way to improvements at the airport. These dollars should come home to support Wisconsin families and Wisconsin’s economy.
It is worth noting, unfortunately, that another far more significant investment available to our communities is being left on the table. In the upcoming two-year budget our state is going to leave $360 million in Washington. If we accepted these funds we could provide coverage to over 80,000 Wisconsin families, stimulate the creation of thousands of new private sector jobs and stave off deep and unnecessary cuts.
The state budget put forward by the Governor would take $1.2 billion more federal dollars overall than the budget four years ago. This makes sense, as many of the dollars we send to Washington as possible should come home. It is unfortunate that the $360 million Medicaid expansion dollars have been singled out as politically unacceptable. We are willing to rely on the federal government for the other $1.2 billion, it makes no sense to say that the Medicaid dollars alone are somehow unreliable.
Bringing the Medicaid expansion dollars home to Wisconsin could be a boon to our budget and a state economy that has lagged badly behind the national recovery and our neighbors. Most importantly these resources would be a boost to 80,000 of our friends and neighbors who have joined us in paying those very federal tax dollars that have been left behind, or worse, diverted to other states.
Our region will benefit from the careful consideration the Bong Airport received and the federal dollars that will be directed to planning for its future. It is unfortunate that Wisconsin taxpayers and families may not benefit from the same consideration and focus on our own state’s economy and well-being.
It’s time to bring the federal dollars available for health care back to our state so we can all benefit from the boost bringing these dollars home could give to our economy, our families and our state’s bottom line. As, always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if I can be of assistance with any state issue. I can be reached via phone toll-free at 1-800-469-6562 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.