Budget Bulletin: The GOPs Unhealthy Budget Choices

A Recap of Joint Finance Committee Action on the 2021-23 State Budget

 

MADISON – The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) continued to work through the budget process in an executive session on Thursday, June 15, 2021. JFC took action on budget items for the Departments of Health Services, Insurance, Board on Aging and Long Term Care, Children and Families and Public Service Commission. In an effort to help keep Wisconsin citizens more informed, Democratic members on the committee provided the following recap of what happened in the budget hearing and how that impacts Wisconsin communities:

 

Department of Health Services (DHS) & Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI)

Democrats offered Motion #103, which would accept Medicaid Expansion and save $1.6 billion in GPR funds, this would cover the maintenance of effort (MOE) to qualify Wisconsin for $2.3 billion in federal funds for K-12 schools (see memo here). Republicans blocked this motion from a vote.

 

Democrats then moved omnibus Motion #109 to include DHS, and OCI. The motion would increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for nursing homes, personal care workers, autism service, emergency physician and dental health. This proposal would also allow Medicaid to cover doula services, community health services, acupuncture services and it would expand postpartum eligibility for Wisconsin mothers from 60 days to one year. The also motion increased funding for Critical Access Hospital and Disproportionate Share Hospital payments as well as funding for public health initiatives including Black infant and maternal health, communicable disease grants and staffing, community health centers and Birth to 3 programs. Motion #109 would provide funding for mental health, regional crisis response system grants, substance abuse, dementia care specialists and Alzheimer's family and caregiver support. The motion failed 4-11.

 

The GOP offered Motion #111. This motion did not include a number of items that were in the Governor’s budget. The list of those items are here. This motion addressed DHS, OCI and BALTC. The motion would spend less than the Governor’s budget on community health centers, free and charitable clinics, autism services, Alzheimer’s family and caregiver support, regional crisis response system grants and FoodShare. The motion passed 11-4.

 

Board on Aging & Long-Term Care (BALTC)

Democrats moved Alternative 1 on BALTC paper #180. The motion would provide funding to increase ombudsman program staff by 2.0 full time positions. This motion failed 4-11.

 

Department of Children and Families (DCF)

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #108, the Governor’s budget request for DCF. The motion included funding increases for programs to provide assistance to struggling families, make childcare more affordable and invest in foster care and adoption programs. The motion increased funds to these critical programs by over $150 million over the biennium. The motion failed 4-11.

Republicans offered Motion #110. The motion increased funding to priority programs by less than half the Governor’s budget request. Motion passed 11-4.

 

Public Service Commission (PSC)

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #106, which had items that were removed from further consideration. The items included broadband provision as well as focus on energy programs and electric vehicle charging stations. This motion was blocked by Republicans.

 

Democrats then offered Motion #107, which would create an annual appropriation using GPR of $74.793 million in 2021 and $72.941 million in 2022 to fund a broadband expansion grant program issued by PSC. The motion would also provide planning grants and a broadband line extension grant program. The motion failed 4-11.

 

GOP members offered Motion #112, which offered $125 million in general bonding to make broadband expansion grants available offered by the PSC, choosing not to spend general purpose revenue on the program. This motion invested $75 million less than what the Governor proposed. The motion passed 11-4.