Governor Walker’s Budget Released:
On February 20th, Governor Walker presented his budget proposal to the State Legislature. The biennial budget is the largest and most important bill the legislature will take up during the two year session. Deciding how Wisconsin’s taxpayer dollars are spent is usually a contentious process, but it gives the public a clear view of the priorities of our elected officials. The Governor’s 2013-15 proposed budget contains over $67 billion dollars of spending which is more than a billion dollars more that was spent over the 2011-13 budget, As we move further into the process I want to hear from constituents on what issues you think are the most important. Right now, the budget is still being evaluated by our non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). In the meantime, the Department of Administration has prepared a brief summary (see link below) broken down by affected subject areas. Please be cautious using these documents as they are prepared by the Department of Administration (DOA) and are not necessarily complete or 100% accurate:
I will be making an effort to keep you apprised of the budget process through these newsletters. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Racing toward school privatization:
Included in the Governor’s proposed budget is an increase and expansion of funding for private school vouchers. An additional $94 million dollars is allocated to increase per pupil voucher school payments, create a statewide special needs voucher program and expand the voucher program to any school district that meeting the following criteria:
• More than 4,000 students enrolled
• Two schools identified as "failing to meet expectations" or "meeting few expectations" on the new Wisconsin school report cards
• Have 20 pupils from the district indicate they intend to participate
For more information, please see my guest op-ed in the Capitol Times
Q: Would it have cost Wisconsin any additional money this biennium to expand Medicaid?
A: No. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government would have paid 100 percent of the cost for an expansion to Medicaid for the first three years (2014-2016) and no less than 90 percent after 2016. There is no language forbidding states from capturing federal dollars from 2014 to 2016 and dropping coverage thereafter for cost concerns. Additionally, under the current model, the federal government pays 60 percent for Medicaid and states pick up the rest.
The Office of the State Treasurer handles unclaimed property for the state. Last year, in the 80th Assembly District alone, there was over $1 million returned to more than 900 people. If you feel that you might have unclaimed property, you can search the State Treasurer’s website by following the link provided below: https://statetreasury.wisconsin.gov/UCPWeb/ucpsearch.aspx
March is Music in our Schools Month!
Music is an integral part of a complete education that helps many young children grow academically and personally. The arts need our continued support, and those participating in school arts programs deserve congratulations and appreciation. Many students will be getting the chance to perform concerts at the Wisconsin State Capitol over the next month to celebrate Music in our Schools Month. Here is a list of the dates and schools participating: http://www.wmea.com/index.php?module=cms&page=60