Republicans Fast Track Legislation to Roll Back
Savings Accounts for Disabled Wisconsinites
February 16, 2016
MADISON – Tonight, Republicans in the State Assembly passed Assembly Bill 731, a bill introduced just one month ago which scraps plans to offer ABLE accounts for disabled individuals originally passed in the 2015-17 state budget. ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts would allow individuals with disabilities and their families to save up to $14,000 per year tax-free to pay for future expenses, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. Money saved in an ABLE account would also not count against an individual’s eligibility for federal benefits programs. Recent changes were made at the federal level to ABLE’s enabling legislation allowing individuals to take advantage of ABLE accounts in states besides their own state of residence. In response, Wisconsin Republicans have now proposed and passed a bill, authored by Representative John Macco (R – Ledgeview), that passes the buck by eliminating our state’s plans to offer these ABLE accounts in Wisconsin.
“After including the creation of ABLE accounts in the state budget, I cannot for the life of me understand why Rep. Macco and his Republican colleagues are now abandoning this opportunity to do the right thing for our disabled residents,” said Representative Lisa Subeck (D – Madison). “Tonight’s message to residents with disabilities is clear: Republicans are turning their backs on you and your families.”
Representative Subeck offered two amendments to Rep. Macco’s bill. One amendment would have restored the creation of ABLE accounts, essentially blocking the repeal while maintaining technical changes to provide state level tax benefits allowable under federal regulations. The other amendment, offered when the first failed, would have required the state to provide print and online information to disabled residents on what states offer ABLE accounts and how to set up accounts in those states. The second amendment failed, as well.
“It is unfortunate that Republicans, who previously supported a bi-partisan effort to enable the creation of ABLE accounts in Wisconsin, are now not only abandoning the program but have also refused to even make sure Wisconsinites with disabilities have access to basic information about how to access the program in other states where accounts may be available to them,” said Subeck.