LaTonya's Legislative Updates Final Border.png

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Welcome to May's Community Connections e-update!

Last month, the Joint Finance Committee went around the state listening to feedback on Governor Evers' state budget proposal through a series of public hearings. In this edition of the newsletter, I'll update you on what the Committee has been hearing from Wisconsinites, provide an update on what is next for the budget process, and discuss action by the Republican-controlled Committee to strip Medicaid expansion from Evers’ budget proposal.

As always, please let my office know what state and community issues are important to you!


Sincerely, 

LJohnson sig.bmp
LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)
Locating COVID-19 Vaccine Providers

 

Currently, 4.6 million Wisconsin residents have been vaccinated. While I am proud of this achievement, we must continue our efforts to encourage eligible residents to become vaccinated so that our families and communities may live without fear.

To locate a vaccine provider near you, click the link below: dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-map.htm

A Budget
Wisconsinites Want

 

After a year of uncertainty and hardship, our state needs bold policies to help families, communities and small businesses bounce back better than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the last month, we have listened to people from all across Wisconsin on Governor Tony Evers’ BounceBack Budget. After four hearings and thousands of emails, one thing is abundantly clear – Wisconsinites want and deserve the investments this budget makes in our economy, public schools, health care, environment and communities. 

When asked, a majority of Wisconsinites say they support increased funding for K-12 public schools, fairly funding special education services, accepting federal funds to expand BadgerCare, and modernizing our outdated laws on marijuana.

Further, on the top of the minds of families, small business owners, and farmers, is the damage the pandemic wrought on Wisconsin’s economy and their ability to be financially secure. In addition to tax relief for working families, we know Wisconsinites support Governor Evers’ proposed investments supporting local businesses, kick-starting startups, and strengthening our agricultural economy and rural communities. 

For years, we’ve heard story after story from parents and students about the devastating impact inadequate funding has on our 860,000 public school children – with a special emphasis on the need to increase special education funding, which has not kept pace with the rising costs. Throughout the four Joint Finance Committee public hearings, Wisconsinites once again showed their support for increased public education funding. The investment we make in students today creates a path to success and results in better economic opportunities for future generations, and Governor Evers' budget 'connects the dots' by ensuring all of our children, regardless of their zip code, have the opportunity to thrive. 

Another issue that can make or break a family’s finances is health care. We heard from many individuals about the importance of investing in caregivers, local health clinics, and access to affordable health care. That’s exactly what the Governor’s budget proposal aims to do by expanding BadgerCare and ensuring greater access to affordable, quality coverage, lowering premiums and prescription drug costs, and generating millions to be re-invested in the health and wellbeing of all Wisconsinites. 

Expanding BadgerCare is the best fiscal decision for our state, and would allow an estimated 90,000 hardworking people to access affordable healthcare across Wisconsin. Moreover, under the federal American Rescue Plan Act, if we expand BadgerCare, our state could receive an additional one billion dollar incentive payment. That’s right, one billion dollars on top of the millions of dollars Wisconsin would already save. Rejecting this deal would be fiscally and socially irresponsible when we stand to help so many and save so much for the entire state. 

The Badger BounceBack Budget is chock-full of provisions that the people of Wisconsin voted for and expect lawmakers to deliver on. Unfortunately, Republicans are once again planning to ignore your voices. Instead of focusing on ways to help our communities bounce back, they would rather play politics and scrap the governor’s budget completely, even if that means ignoring the needs of Wisconsinites.

By rejecting this budget, Republicans will jeopardize necessary investments in health care, schools, and communities, even as Wisconsinites struggle to recover from this past year. Their opposition is remarkable and disproportionate after hearing from hundreds of Wisconsinites – a huge majority – who testified in support of the Badger BounceBack Budget to the Joint Finance. To make this budget real, we need people in every corner of our state to continue to mobilize, contact members of the state Legislature, and voice your support for this budget and the investments it makes for all Wisconsinites. 

Wisconsin workers and families have had to endure a lot this past year. The last thing we need is politicians jeopardizing a prosperous economic bounce back for our state and everyone living here. Republicans have an opportunity to come to the table, work with legislative Democrats and the governor, and deliver comprehensive solutions that are supported by a majority of Wisconsinites. 

Sadly, it appears history will repeat itself as Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee once again defied the wishes of Wisconsinites by dismantling the Governor’s BounceBack budget and obstructing economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last week during the first executive session on the budget, Republicans on the Committee chose to remove 391 provisions, including one that blocks BadgerCare expansion in Wisconsin. This decision not only hinders Wisconsin’s ability to bounce back better from the pandemic, but it will cost our state an additional $1.6 billion in federal funding. 

In addition, they removed key provisions, like universal background checks, which seek to institute basic gun safety measures to help keep families and communities safe. In doing so, Republicans ignored an issue that has 80% support by Wisconsinites.

Follow Joint Finance Democrats on Facebook to receive updates about the 2021-2023 budget process!


What's Next for the State Budget?

With the public hearings wrapped up, you may be wondering what is next for the state budget process. Similar to any other bill that comes before the Legislature, after the public hearing comes a vote in the committee of which the bill has been referred. In this case, that is the Joint Finance Committee. Since the bill is much larger than a typical bill, however, a series of 'executive sessions’ will be held. During executive sessions, members of the Committee have an opportunity to introduce motions to make changes to the bill. 

Last week, the Joint Committee on Finance held its first executive session where Republicans, in their first action, passed a motion that removed 391 items from consideration in the budget moving forward. The removal of these items would mean that after this motion any attempt to reintroduce these items during the committee process would be considered out of order by the chair.

Republicans on the Committee then moved Motion 22, which is a substitute amendment that would bring the budget back to the base funding levels. This action stripped all of the Governor’s proposed budget and makes the committee start from the funding levels in the current fiscal year. The committee would then have to vote to add funding, programming or another action. 

As we continue this process, I will be sure to keep you updated!

In the District

Updates on what's happening locally in our community can be found in this section. I'll also include updates on resources, information, and COVID-19 assistance programs.


Home HazMat Collection
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has added a new permanent drop-off site for household chemicals, which is located at  6060 S. 13th St., Milwaukee. It’s free to visit MMSD Home Hazmat collections where you can get rid of paint, compact fluorescent light bulbs, motor oil, rechargeable batteries, and much more. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Energy Assistance 
Recently, Governor Evers announced more than $21 million to help Wisconsinites pay overdue utility bills. Energy assistance applications are now being accepted by the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP). For more information about the program and how to apply, please call 1-866-HEATWIS (432-8947), or visit the "Where to Apply" tab on www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov to find your local energy assistance agency.

 

GOP Refuses to Fund Wisconsin Black Historical Society

As a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), I am committed to fighting for a budget that provides Wisconsinites with real opportunities to succeed, like investing in the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, which provides a multitude of educational opportunities to Milwaukee residents and to people from across the state. I am sad to say that my Republican colleagues on the Committee do not share the same vision or values. 

On Thursday, during the second JFC executive session, GOP members on the Committee rejected a motion to invest $169,000 over the biennium in additional funding for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, which is located in the 6th Senate District.

The GOP co-chair of the committee argued that the state shouldn't provide the small inflationary funding increase for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. Instead, he asserted that people could view a temporary display in the state Capitol if they wanted to learn about Black History.

I found his remarks and the actions by the Committee to be disrespectful and dismissive, and fought hard to keep the funding in the budget. I believe providing the funding increase to the Black Historical Society was one small way the state could help the Black community and the people of Milwaukee. To learn more about actions of the co-chair and the Committee, CLICK HERE.


Included below is a photo of the display case the co-chair referenced in his comments: 


In the News

I'm working hard for Wisconsinites and am fighting to make our communities a better, safer place to live and raise a family. This section of 'Community Connections' will keep you up-to-date on hot topics happening locally, statewide, and nationally. I'll also share articles that I am quoted in when speaking to members of the media about the values of our community.


Legislative Briefing on Qualified Immunity
On May 3, I along with Rep. Jonathan Brostoff held a legislative briefing on the topic of Ending Qualified Immunity in Wisconsin, and unveiled legislation that would end this harmful policy. To learn more about the bill and why it's important, CLICK HERE.

Republicans Reject the People's Budget 
As a member of the Legislature's budget committee, I am upset that my Republican colleagues on the Committee have chosen to ignore the will of the people by removing key provisions within Governor Evers proposed state budget. This decision comes after Wisconsinites from across the state echoed their support for the budget throughout the JFC public hearings. To learn more about the testimony that was provided by the people of Wisconsin, CLICK HERE.


Democratic Priorities for the 2021-23 Budget 

On May 7, I had the opportunity to discuss the first 2021-23 budget session, and the fight to save BadgerCare expansion from the chopping block with Here & Now. To watch the full interview, CLICK HERE.

Useful Phone Numbers

There are many levels of state and local government that can help answer questions and get you connected with resources you may need. I have listed some useful phone numbers below. You can also see a comprehensive list of numbers by clicking the link below. If you see a change needed or an important number that should be added, please let me know! 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore.............................414-297-1140
Governor Evers.....................................................608-266-1212
Milwaukee Common Council...............................414-286-2221
Milwaukee County Board....................................414-278-4222
Milwaukee Police Department.............................414-933-4444
Poison Control......................................................800-222-1222
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program..............800-815-0015

Medigap Helpline.................................................800-242-1060
Consumer Protection Hotline..............................800-422-7128
Department of Health Services............................608-266-1865
Workforce Development......................................608-266-3131
Public Service Commission..................................800-225-7729
SeniorCare Wisconsin.........................................800-657-2038
WI Commissioner of Insurance Complaints.......800-236-8517


For other useful phone numbers, click here!