JUNE 12, 2015

Budget Update
The legislature has been working on the state budget for the last several months. As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, that has been my primary focus. I've been meeting with groups and individuals from my district and all across the state. I've received emails and calls from many of you, and I appreciate getting feedback and hearing about your concerns. I wanted to give you some more detailed information on some different areas that the committee has been working on.

The committee still has at least one more day of executive session left. After the committee has completed its work, the budget will head to the Senate and Assembly floors to be voted on in its entirety. It will then head to Governor Walker for his signature, hopefully by the end of June.

Next week’s e-newsletter will include budget updates related to K-12 education, transportation and the Milwaukee Bucks proposal.

UW System
  • The JFC voted to delete the governor's proposal to create a UW System authority. Instead, the Committee provided the System with a number of flexibilities -- many of which the System has been requesting for years.
  • The JFC reduced the proposed cut to the System by $50 million. This reduction, along with $20 million from UW surplus monies previously identified by System President Ray Cross, will benefit the smaller UW institutions that are least equipped to handle budget cuts.
  • Several dozen flexibilities given to the System by the JFC include the following 1) ability to provide merit pay to UW staff and faculty, 2) tools for chancellors to run effective and efficient campus operations, and 3) the removal of the Building Commission process on certain projects.
  • The continued in-state undergraduate tuition freeze approved by the JFC ensures that additional costs won't be shifted to students and parents. Action by the JFC ensures tuition will remain at the current level for the next two years.
  • The Committee outlined accountability measures for the System. Moving forward, this information will help students, parents, taxpayers, and the Legislature gauge how well the System is managing its budget, academics, and administration.
  • The reforms and flexibilities passed by the JFC will help the System continue to grow, innovate, and improve.
  • Language regarding tenure was deleted in statute only. This means that the JFC did not abolish tenure -- its function is simply being shifted to the authority of the Board of Regents. This is far from unusual when compared to other states
  • The JFC voted to establish conditions under which the Board of Regents may grant a tenure appointment to a faculty member.

Natural Resources and Stewardship
  • The JFC voted to continue the DNR's land acquisition through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program at a more conservative level than current law.
  • Specifically, bonding for stewardship was reduced by over $21 million per year.
  • This makes for a more financially responsible and sustainable program, as the Committee worked to find a balance between protecting two precious resources -- our natural heritage and taxpayer dollars.
  • With this plan, about $140 million in stewardship debt will be repaid within the next 20 years.
  • Under the plan, all fee-simple purchases north of Highway 64 will be subject to passive review by JFC.
  • The JFC motion doubled the investment from the Governor's budget recommendation.
  • The plan provides for the purchase of the "best of the best" land acquisitions and easements.

Long Term Care

Legislative Republicans proposed a new plan that gives DHS limited authority to pursue a waiver from the Federal Government for Wisconsin’s long-term care services.  These changes include the state-wide expansion of Family Care and self-directed care. The plan integrates long-term and medical care (acute and primary care) to ensure better care for clients and families. IRIS and ADRC services are not going away -- they are simply being integrated into the Family Care program.

Our Plan Includes the Following:

  • A strong self-directed care option with budget authority.
  • Public and stakeholder input.
  • The complete integration of long-term, acute, and primary care with Medicaid services.
  • The creation of no fewer than 5 regional health districts to be served by multiple Integrated Health Agencies (IHA) in each district.
  • The development for alternatives for initial assessments, functional screens, and provider selection.
  • Actuarially determined rates paid to IHAs.
  • Adequately served provider networks.
  • A three year transitional period during which IHAs must accept any willing provider.
  • Approval of the waiver submission by the JFC.

Children and Families
  • Expanded the Transitional Jobs program which assists individuals with opening pathways to employment in Beloit, Racine and rural areas.

  •  Drug testing will be required for specific programs within DCF-Transitional Jobs and Transform Milwaukee , and the Children First program.

  • The organizational structure of Milwaukee Child Welfare is changed from a bureau to its own division. The new structure will allow for greater efficiencies and accountability.

  • Transfered community-based juvenile justice, from Department of Corrections to DCF. This provides continuity of care and a more coordinated approach to family-centered programming and interventions.

  • Dedicated $2 million for child sex trafficking victim services and $5 million in domestic violence grants

  • Provides funds from federal temporary assistance for needy families (TANF) block grant to DCF to support general education development (GED) testing and preparation to eligible individuals.

  • Also provides $41,600 annually to DCF from the TANF block grant to support adult literacy grants.

  • $500,000 annually under TANF for a grant to fund civil legal services for low income families with civil legal needs related to domestic abuse and sexual abuse.

Where to Find Budget Information

 You can follow the executive sessions by watching Wisconsin Eye.

More information about the budget can be found here.

Executive Session agendas can be found here.

My Capitol office at 306 East is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Update, please feel free to contact me.   

State Capitol Room 306 East- PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967
Email: Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov

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