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— A group of Senate Republicans today will announce plans to pump more than $130 million into local road funding, according to sources with knowledge of the plan.
The 10 Senate Republicans expected to attend today’s news conference includes all six caucus members on the Joint Finance Committee, which is expected to vote tomorrow on a transportation package.
The sources said the plan includes giving each county $1 million and providing towns with $1,000 per mile of road in their jurisdictions.
The package would also be one-time money, taking advantage of new revenue projections the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released last month. The agency now projects an additional $753 million in revenue through mid-2021 compared to previous estimates. Still, it noted much of that was one-time money as taxpayers take advantage of the 2017 rewrite of the federal tax code.
See more later today in the Budget Blog and the PM Update.
— The Joint Finance Committee late last night approved a plan to pump $588.2 million in general purpose revenue into the Medicaid program, pushing up reimbursement rates for hospitals, nursing homes and personal care workers.
The investment of state tax dollars would mean an additional $858.4 million in federal funds that would help cover costs of the joint state-federal Medicaid program.
But Dems slammed the GOP proposal as inadequate because it didn’t embrace the guv’s call to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. They pointed out that approach would have saved the state $324 million in GPR while resulting in an additional $1.6 billion investment in health programs.
The GOP motion cleared 11-4 along party lines.
Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, charged Republicans lost on health care in the 2018 elections. But instead of embracing what voters wanted, they turned their backs on the public to simply maintain the status quo.
— The JFC also approved 11-4 along party lines boosting programs in the Department of Children and Families by $125.5 million in all funds over the next two years.
The bulk of that increase would go to increase reimbursement rates for Wisconsin Shares. That program provides child care assistance to low-income families so parents and other caretakers can work or participate in job training.
But that was about $22.9 million less than the guv proposed.
Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said it was good that Republicans were willing to put more money into the program after years of not doing enough. But she said her GOP colleagues should’ve been willing to meet the guv’s proposed funding level, adding the Republican plan was below market rates.
“You’re still going to leave families without options,” Taylor said.
See more coverage of yesterday’s JFC session in the Budget Blog:
— A federal appeals court has put off deciding whether Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has to testify in a long-running redistricting lawsuit until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two cases involving similar issues.
And if the U.S. Supreme Court rules against those challenging the maps in Maryland and North Carolina, it likely means Vos, R-Rochester, won’t have to provide any testimony on Assembly GOP campaign strategy and other issues Dems had hoped to question him about.
That’s because the Wisconsin case is expected to only proceed if the justices rule that a map can be found an unconstitutional gerrymander. Short of that, the Wisconsin case would likely be dismissed. The federal court overseeing the Wisconsin case has noted it hinges on what the Supreme Court rules.
Dems challenging the Wisconsin Assembly maps had sought to compel Vos to testify, but he argued legislative immunity. After the federal court overseeing the redistricting suit rejected his request, Vos appealed to the 7th Circuit.
In an order late yesterday, the court ordered the parties to file statements outlining their positions within seven days after the court has ruled in the Maryland and North Carolina cases.
— In addition to four abortion bills, the state Senate plans to take up legislation today that would set standards and fees for wireless providers when they seek to install 5G infrastructure.
According to the bill authors, the wireless antennas for the new technology can be installed on existing structures such as utility poles or light poles. The bill would allow local governments to propose alternate locations for the antennas. But they also would be prohibited from exceeding state or federal regulations on several fronts.
It’s patterned after FCC standards established last fall.
Besides the 5G and abortion bills, everything else on the Senate calendar cleared committee unanimously. The 5G bill was voted out 4-1.
See the calendar:
— Kevin Nicholson, who told WisPolitics.com last month that he hadn’t made up his mind about another run after losing last year’s GOP U.S. Senate primary, today announced the launch of a new group he says will promote conservative policies.
The No Better Friend Corp. is a takeoff of the Marine Corps’ unofficial slogan, “no better friend, no worse enemy.”
The group’s advisory board includes Liz and Dick Uihlein, the Illinois business couple that backed Nicholson’s U.S. Senate run. Dick Uihlein gave some $11 million to groups that supported Nicholson’s run.
Others on the advisory board include: Kathryn “Murph” Burke, a Milwaukee philanthropist; Jim Klauser, a longtime aide to Gov. Tommy Thompson; and Mary Stitt, who led Nicholson’s fundraising on his Senate run. Burke and Klauser were honorary co-chairs of Nicholson’s campaign as he lost the primary to Leah Vukmir.
Nicholson will be president and CEO in a volunteer role, while his wife, Jessie, also will volunteer her time to the group, according to the announcement.
The paid staff includes:
*Darryl Carlson, a former legislative staffer;
*Adam Chewning, a technology investment banker who was chief operating officer on Nicholson’s Senate campaign.
*Ronica Cleary, who worked communications on Nicholson’s campaign;
*Mario Herrera, who previously worked as the Republican Party of Wisconsin’s Hispanic outreach director.
Like Nicholson, Carlson and Herrera are Marine Corps veterans.
Nicholson faced questions in the 2018 race over his GOP credentials after he had served as president of College Dems. He told WisPolitics.com at last month’s GOP state convention that he planned to work on bringing more people to the conservative movement. He also said he would focus on helping President Trump in 2020 before deciding on a possible bid in 2022.
FRIDAY: WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com discussion: Closing the urban-rural health care gap
The recent 2019 County Health Rankings report showed gaps in health care between suburban-urban areas and rural counties in Wisconsin. In southwestern Wisconsin, La Crosse County was ranked 6th among the state’s 72 counties in terms of health factors that drive healthy lifestyles such as lower tobacco and alcohol use; access to quality care, education, employment and social support; plus housing and water-air quality. But surrounding counties ranked between 19th and 59th.
Join us for a discussion on coping with these gaps in rural-urban health care. The cost to attend is free, thanks to the support of Health Tradition.
But you must register in advance.
WHAT: Closing the rural-urban health care gap
WHEN: Friday June 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with the program going from noon to 1:15 p.m.
WHERE: The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern l 328 Front Street South Ste. 100, La Crosse WI 54601
FORMAT: Dr. Tim Bartholow, Chief Medical Officer of Health Tradition, will provide opening remarks, and then a panel of four experts will add commentary. The panelists include Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, Wally Orzechowski of the Southwest Community Action Program, Dr. Paul S. Mueller, chair of Mayo Clinic’s general internal medicine, and Dr. Erik Gundersen, medical director of Kwik Trip Center for Health and incoming president of the Wisconsin Medical Society.
The event is organized by WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com, non-partisan news organizations that regularly convene discussions of important public issues. Sponsored by Health Tradition.
To register, visit: https://eventbrite.com/e/closing-the-urban-rural-health-care-gap-tickets-62264248042
GOP increase Medicaid spending by $200M, less than Evers’ plan
.. [on 11-4 party line] will increase funding for hospitals [including rural], nursing homes, personal care workers, direct care givers and aids, helping to offset a workforce shortage and prevent nursing home closures … includes $30 million more for nursing homes, $37 million for personal care workers, $27 million for direct care givers and $30 million for aids to children and families. … funds 25 to 30 mental health workers. … “This investment is not solving the problem completely, but it’s taking significant steps in the right direction,” [JFC co-chair] Nygren said. … [co-chair Darling said] “what we’re doing is investing in people, not programs … We’re not expanding welfare.” Some increases are more than Evers’, some are less. JFC Dems Taylor, Erpenbach vow to continue press for Medicaid expansion. MU Law poll in April found 70% favor expanding Medicaid, but Nygren said > 80% of his district oppose welfare expansion. Rehash Medicaid expansion, GOP opposition.
Republican Lawmakers To Vote On Medicaid Budget
… [JFC Dems] held a press conference before the committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, calling for Republicans to walk back their opposition. “It’s a cruel choice for the people we could cover and it’s a fiscally irresponsible choice,” said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. Rep. Goyke reminded health care was Evers’ top campaign pledge, “The people of Wisconsin knew what they were buying — they want the Medicaid expansion.” Sen. Erpenbach: “We’re leaving hundreds of millions of Wisconsinites’ dollars out in Washington, D.C. We’re paying twice for something we’re getting once,” slammed GOP lock-step refusal. Vos, Fitzgerald still using Walker’s argument against expansion. Kaiser Family Foundation noted WI is one of 14 states that hasn’t taken the additional federal money.
[JFC] Dem, GOP accuse the other of ‘screwing’ their constituents
… Rep. Evan Goyke called the GOP [child protective services cut] “screwing” over the county while Sen. LaTonya Johnson said it wasn’t fair. “Seventy-two percent of this state’s poor resides in Milwaukee,” Johnson said. “Milwaukee always finds itself at the front and center of the firing squad, yet we can’t figure out why Milwaukee doesn’t have the resources that it needs to take care of its own poor.” … “We should be asking why you are not thanking us,” Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam … “You say it’s been a screwing of Milwaukee. I’d say it’s been a screwing in the opposite direction and we’re going to stop that tonight,” he said to Goyke. … overall spending plan for the DCF includes $65.5M less than what Evers proposed. Exec. Abele blind-sided by cut to program run by DCF, “Families in Milwaukee County continue to send increasingly more tax dollars to the state, and they deserve better than to receive a dramatic cut to funding for services they depend on. I am eager to work with our legislators on both sides to prevent the catastrophic impact this cut will have if it moves forward.”
WI Dems Push For Repeal Of Criminal Abortion Law
Push Comes A Day Before Republicans Plan To Pass New Abortion Restrictions … The law Democrats want to repeal makes it a felony for doctors to perform an abortion and defines an “unborn child” as “a human being from the time of conception until born alive.” It hasn’t been enforced since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide. Rep. Subeck at Capitol presser, with WWAH’s Finger, pushed bill to remove the statute, “I believe that there are a lot of people in this state who don’t even know that if Roe were overturned, abortion would be immediately illegal.” Finger: “The threat to Roe v. Wade is very, very real. … the threat to Wisconsin women’s access to abortion here is on the line.” Subeck’s proposal has little chance of passing GOP-controlled Legislature. Leader Fitzgerald statement: “Overturning Roe v. Wade would be a monumental moment for the pro-life movement in Wisconsin that I’m proud to be part of. Unfortunately abortion in our state is still happening, so tomorrow the Senate will take up common-sense legislation to outlaw abortions that discriminate based on race, sex, or ability. I’m hopeful that Democrats will support these reforms, but I won’t hold my breath.” The four bills scheduled for Wednesday Senate already passed Assembly on near party-line votes. Evers has vowed veto, spokeswoman did not respond.
UW System Officials Make Case For UW Capital Budget
… [Evers $1B+] included money to renovate old classrooms … 60 percent are between 40 and 75 years old. … like the UW-Madison’s 116-year-old Agriculture Hall, where [System Pres. Cross, Chancellor Blank] spoke to reporters Tuesday. “Our focus is on repair, renovate and replace,” Cross said. “That’s our focus. And we’ve got this whole capital request focused almost exclusively in those areas. … Without a strong capital budget we increase risks to safety and if you go into some chemistry labs and see the ventilation you understand.” … “Our vet med school hospital currently serves three times the number of clients that it was designed to accommodate,” said Blank. “The current facility does not meet the needs of users. We’re committed to raising one third of the cost of vet school renovations from private donors and we’re asking the state to help pay the remaining two thirds.” … stressed that spending requests are meant to reflect state priorities of graduating more students and creating talent. … In March, the State Building Commission rejected every building project in Evers’ $2.5 billion capital budget, citing concerns about its scope and level of borrowing.
Police, Firefighters Call For Road Funding Fix
JFC Is Scheduled To Debate Transportation Funding This Week … [Troopers, PFFW, WPPA, Sheriffs at Capitol presser] said they were not endorsing any specific plan for road funding, but they were calling on lawmakers to act. RFD’s DeGarmo: “we’re asking the state Legislature to find some common-sense, sustainable solutions to transportation funding.” Grant Sheriff Dreckman said bad roads slow emergency response, “we have a highway that, over the wintertime, would buckle heavily to the point that first responders would avoid that road.” DaneCo Deputy Brigham cited U.S. 151 north of Sun Prairie, “Last summer, literally every day, they were responding to a blowout tire. Any time someone is on the side of the road, whether it’s a citizen or a first responder, you’re putting those people’s lives at risk.” Rehash Evers’ gas tax hike, Vos-Fitzgerald fees. Vos said earlier this year nixed GOP infighting over roads like during Walker’s last budget.
Vos won’t have to testify in gerrymandering case for now, and may not have to at all
… appeals judges [GOP-appointed Kanne, Rovner, Sykes] wrote that they would decide whether Vos has to testify after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two major gerrymandering cases from [NC, MD]. … rulings — expected this month … could rule in a way that helps Wisconsin Democrats — or in a way that would effectively end the case, along with the requirement that Vos detail why Republicans drew the maps as they did in 2011. … judges told the parties to submit briefs on the Wisconsin case a week after the Supreme Court rules
Hintz lobs f-bomb at critic after Facebook spat
… when a frequent antagonist brought up some of the Oshkosh Democrat’s past controversies and indiscretions on Facebook last month … “You are a (expletive) loser,” Hintz wrote in a May 28 private message to Carver Siewert, a conservative business owner and onetime friend from Oshkosh. Hintz finished by calling Siewert an “(expletive).” Siewert responded by dropping his own f-bombs and ordering Hintz to call his cell phone. Siewert wrote that he had already been in touch with an attorney about the incident. Less than 10 minutes later … “In order to manage my negative energy and hate, I need to let this go,” Hintz wrote. “I’m running on low sleep and have too many positive things in my life right now that I should be prioritizing. You can say or do what you want. But I need to move on and let it go, and say I am sorry today happened.” … “We differ politically, obviously,” Siewert said. Still, he didn’t expect Hintz to unload on him as he did: “It did shock me.” Facebook postings apparently deleted by Hintz. Background on the spat.
Nicholson keeping political options open as he leads new advocacy group
… [2016 primary runner-up] has spent the last few months speaking at Republican caucuses and Lincoln-Reagan Day dinners and appeared at the recent state GOP convention. … forming a nonprofit organization, “No Better Friend Corp.” a 501(c)4 advocacy group to promote conservative public policy solutions. … takes its name from a Marine Corps’ motto: “No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.” … another political run be in Nicholson’s future? “On a personal level, I’ll do what I can to help the president win re-election 2020,” he said of President Donald Trump. “Then when we get beyond 20 we can talk about what race and so on and so forth. I’m not going to close any doors to anything. … The ultimate mission is to move the conservative movement forward, both in our state and beyond.” … advisory board includes Liz and Richard Uihlein. Richard Uihlein-backed groups spent nearly $11 million supporting Nicholson’s primary run. Other board members include Murph Burke and Jim Klauser, who were honorary co-chairs of the Senate campaign, and Mary Stitt [in-state finance chair]. Nicholson and wife will be unpaid prez, VP. Paid staffers include Adam Chewning, Ronica Cleary, Darryl Carson, Mario Herrera.
Scientists Concerned With Federal Plan To Remove Protections For Gray Wolf
… Five scientists [including ex-DNR’s Wydeven, UW prof. Treves] were contracted by the USFWS to conduct a 245-page peer review of the scientific argument justifying the removal of federal wolf protections. … “The USFWS seems to try to provide rationale for using the term ‘eastern wolves’ instead of ‘eastern gray wolves’ or ‘gray wolves in eastern U.S.,'” wrote Wydeven. “I believe in so doing, USFWS further confuses the issue, instead of providing clarity. This seems to disregard concepts such the precautionary principle.” … Treves found [USFWS’] “conclusions about current range, vacant habitats and northeastern USA gray wolves were not well substantiated. … fail to adequately review the data for best available evidence, I cannot agree with the inference that delisting will not lead to excessive cumulative effects and to wolf population decline and possible collapse too quickly to be averted by relisting.” … critical peer-review was heralded by wolf advocates including the Endangered Species Coalition. ESC’s HUta: “Fish and wildlife service has a job and it’s to recover species. It isn’t to please a few states. It isn’t to please a few politicians or industry officials. They’re supposed to recover species. They’re supposed to bring species back into balance and protect the web of life.” Sen. Tiffany gruffed, “this is what they always do. They always site some minutia to make the case why wolves shouldn’t be delisted.” Rehash wolf history in WI. USFWS is accepting public comments until Monday, July 15.
WHCA / WiCAL and LeadingAge Wisconsin
– Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference. Featured speaker is tech creator, designer and author John Zeratsky.
– 7 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative 2019 Annual Conference. Among elected officials participating in panels are Niagara Falls, New York, Mayor Paul Dyster and Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen.
– 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.: June 5: WisPolitics.com D.C. Breakfast with CNN’S Manu Raju. Raju, senior congressional correspondent at CNN, will analyze the relationship between the Republican Senate and the Democratic House and how Democrats will handle the impeachment question. He is a former Politico reporter and a UW-Madison grad who grew up in the Chicago area.
– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Sporting Heritage informational hearing. Members will hear from invited speakers on the trapper education course.
– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.
– 11 a.m.: Senate session.
– 11 a.m.: PSC hearing.
– 12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.: Madison Rotary Club. Guest speaker is Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County President and CEO Michael Johnson. Rotary meetings are open to members, invited guests and media.
University of Wisconsin-Madison
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