Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Clock Is Ticking

By Lisa Kaiser
alberta3
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Today’s the big day for the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. They’re trying to cram in as much business as possible so that you and I won’t have time to sort through the details and respond to them. It may take a day, it may take a few days. But I predict a full and robust public debate on the final issues is not going to happen. 

Apparently they’re going to take up whatever misguided backroom income tax cut deal they’ve cooked up in haste. Will it favor the wealthiest Wisconsinites? Or really, really favor the wealthiest Wisconsinites? Such a tough decision. A few hundred million here, a few hundred million there. Adds up to real money at some point.

After that, they can blast their way through public education funding and Medicaid expansion. So many details, so little time. On education, I’m sure the biggest problem is figuring out how to word the voucher school expansion provision so that legislators can vote for a limited expansion while allowing Gov. Scott Walker to take it statewide, without restrictions, with the stroke of a line-item veto pen.

On to Medicaid. Now, anyone who’s looked at the cold, hard facts knows that taking the federal dollars to expand Medicaid is the best option. It would cover the most low-income Wisconsinites, use the fewest state tax dollars and prevent a whole lot of uncompensated care at hospitals around the state. 

But, as usual when the Republicans are in the majority, logic and cold, hard facts don’t matter.

Walker wants to reject the Medicaid expansion because he’s running for president and needs to set himself apart from the other Republican governors who are taking the money.

The only issue facing the Republican-led JFC is how much money they’re going to offer their friends in the hospital industry who will be penalized by their decision. And full funding for health care for low-income Wisconsinites? That’s not even on their radar.

 

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