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(608) 266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |


Springtime Music & Polka Festival
May 4
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May 8
Poage Park

Cass Historic Walking Tour
May 9 & 10

Migratory Bird Walk
May 11
Sugar Creek Bluff State Natural Area


State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,




The beginning of May marks the end of the 2019-2021 budget hearings for this legislative session. Governor Evers held listening sessions in Stevens Point, Kenosha, Superior, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, and Milwaukee, while the Joint Finance Committee held hearings in Janesville, River Falls, Oak Creek, and Green Bay. Thousands of Wisconsinites turned out at those sessions, and in each session legislators heard resounding and across the board support for Governor Evers’ budget proposals, and especially his plans to expand Medicaid in the state of Wisconsin.

However, just days after the public hearings came to a close, JFC Republicans noticed the Assembly on Wednesday that their first move in budget deliberations will be to delete full Medicaid expansion from the budget. Despite 70% public support for the proposal, Republicans still continue to deny federal money for the state as well as access to healthcare for Wisconsinites across the state.

If you are interested in continuing to share your thoughts on budget items, know that the BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov email address is no longer live, but that you can continue to call the offices of Joint Finance Committee members, as well as the legislative hotline, listed above. The Joint Finance Committee is now preparing for voting in executive sessions, which could happen as early as May 9th.


Please continue reading below to learn more about the Republicans’ rejection of Medicaid expansion, the governor’s proposed education budget, and the results from last month’s Conservation Congress. As always please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. You can always contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing RepBillings@legis.wisconsin.gov. 

Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

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Republicans Move to Reject Medicaid Expansion Money


At the Medicaid Town Hall Senator Shilling, Representative Doyle, and I hosted in Viroqua last week, we explained that Wisconsin’s Medicaid program – otherwise known as BadgerCare – is jointly funded by the federal and state governments. Although the federal government contributes funds to the program, how much money they contribute varies based on average per capita income. Currently, federal matching funds are approximately 58% of Medicaid costs.

In Wisconsin, BadgerCare is available only to those earning 100% or less of the federal poverty line, which is currently set at $12,140/year for individuals and $25,100/year for a family of four. As an important side note, the federal poverty line hasn’t been reformulated since the 1960’s, and is currently set well below our state’s living wage.

By not expanding Medicaid, Wisconsin has lost out on approximately $1.6 billion in federal funds, while an estimated 82,000 Wisconsinites have lost out on healthcare coverage. In La Crosse County alone, accepting the federal Medicaid expansion money would extend healthcare coverage to 1,365 residents while increasing funding for hospitals, physicians, dental services, long-term care programs, and more.

Check out this fact sheet to learn more about the benefits that Medicaid expansion would bring to La Crosse county. If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits Medicaid expansion would bring to the entire state, check out Rep. Gordon Hintz’s op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal on ’10 Reasons to Expand Medicaid in Wisconsin’ from earlier this month.


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Budget Highlight: Education


In addition to expanding healthcare coverage for Wisconsinites across the state, accepting the federal Medicaid expansion money would allow state money to fund other priorities, like education and transportation. The education initiatives embedded in Governor Evers’ budget highlight some of the significant strides the budget makes in restoring Wisconsin’s Special Education, K-12, and Higher Education, and reiterate the importance of accepting the federal Medicaid money.

The governor’s budget also emphasizes the importance of funding special education initiatives, reflecting the will of Wisconsinites who turned out to voice their support for special education funding at the Joint Finance Committee listening sessions. Governor Evers’ budget proposes instituting a 60% reimbursement rate for special education costs by 2021, as the current reimbursement rate sits at just above 20%.

Governor Evers’ plan also sets aside funding to address students’ mental health needs and fund school breakfast programs within K-12 education. Moreover, the governor’s budget increases funding to both the UW and Wisconsin Technical College Systems aimed at improving student success initiatives. Finally, in-state students at UW System schools will continue to benefit from a frozen tuition rate, so as to reduce the student loan debt burden and improve college affordability.

While these education initiatives are long-overdue, our state will not be able to fund them at the proposed levels without expanding Medicaid. Although it may not be obvious that healthcare and education are directly related, the bottom line is that if we don’t accept the $1.6 billion of federal money on the line, we won’t be able to fund other necessary programs – like K-12 and higher education – that have been consistently cut for the last eight years.

If you’re interested in advocating on behalf of public education, healthcare, transportation, or any other budget initiative in the 2019-2021 biennium, you can continue to call the offices of Joint Finance Committee members, as well as the legislative hotline at 608-266-9960.






Conservation Congress Results


On April 8th, 10,700 Wisconsinites from counties across the state participated in the Department of Natural Resources’ annual Conservation Congress. The Conservation Congress was created by the State Conservation Commission (formerly known as the state Natural Resource Board) in 1934, with the purpose of enabling Wisconsin residents to inform and influence the formation of natural resource policy through a local avenue.

Participants voted on 88 different items ranging from establishing length and bag limits for fish in lakes, ponds, and rivers around the state, to creating a pilot program for creating temporary shooting ranges for scholastic shooting teams, and more. While 3,042 people voted in person at the meetings in their county, this year’s new online voting option extended participation to 7,310 additional people, more than tripling the total number of votes cast.

In addition to voting on all 88 items, the La Crosse County Conservation Congress also passed four resolutions – 320119, 320219, 320319, and 320419 – relating to reinstating Milwaukee as a separate district within the WCC, buying out all remaining commercial fishermen and repealing the commercial fishing law, and opposing the back forty proposed metallic sulfide mine, respectively.

If you are interested in learning more about the 88 items that were voted on you can review the 2019 Spring Hearing Questionnaire. If you are interested in reviewing the results of Congress by county, the citizen resolution results, or the overall tally, feel free to navigate to the DNR’s web page for further information. Thanks to all those in La Crosse who participated this year!

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Rep. Billings Around the State


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I toured UW-Eau Claire facilities with Rep. Emerson and Sen. Smith on Wednesday to inform the work I do on the State Building Commission. 




Thanks to the La Crosse Area realtors that came to speak with me, Rep. Doyle, and Rep. Oldenburg last week!


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I stopped by Freddy's Dairy Bar during my visit to the UW-River Falls campus to tour their science building and visit with faculty, staff, and social work students. 




Thank you to UW-La Crosse faculty and students for lobbying on behalf of our great university and the governor's budget in the Capitol while I was meeting with constituents in the district.


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My staffer, Kathy, met with advocates for palliative care while I was in the district. Thank you all for sharing your stories!


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It was great to be on UW-L's campus at Congressman Ron Kind's environmental listening session last week.

Wisconsinites Pro-Medicaid Expansion, Republicans Move to Reject Funding [Rep. Billings Newsletter]