LOPPW Priorities and the Wisconsin State Budget: July 2019 through June 2021
BadgerCare: Our support for the governor’s proposal to fully expand BadgerCare by accepting federal dollars available for Medicaid expansion in all states, did not pass. The federal tax dollars, which Wisconsinites contribute to via our federal taxes, would have provided affordable health insurance to about 80,000 more people who currently don’t qualify for BadgerCare but who live on low wages, even minimum wage.
Food Share: Last year, a slew of public benefit bills, including for Food Share were passed. LOPPW advocated against some of those bills. The governor used his veto power to severely cut spending to implement work requirements and drug testing for participation in Medicaid and Food Share programs.
“None of those four vetoes eliminate the previously-approved statutory provisions establishing requirements relating to work, drug screen and testing, and Medicaid Savings Accounts. However, because of the interplay of state and federal law, it appears that the first of those vetoes will preclude the state from imposing the work/training requirement for parents that was expected to cause thousands of families to receive substantially less in Food Shared benefits. For the other three appropriations, the vetoes create uncertainty about how or whether implementation of the requirements will proceed.” Better Budget Project
Allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses was not passed. “This change would have improved the well-being of immigrants and their families, resulted in insurance savings for a broad pool of drivers, and helped businesses connect with workers who have skill sets that match employer needs.” Better Budget Project
Care for God’s Creation
Lead pipe replacement: The governor originally discussed wanting $70 million for lead pipes and was then $40 million in the budget. The legislature removed the $40 million in funding for removing lead from pipes from the budget.
Mining: Governor Evers vetoed an item added to the budget by the JFC to limit local control of quarry mining by prohibiting counties and municipalities from regulating blasting, hours of operation, and noise, air, and water quality
Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) must have a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit from DNR. A CAFO is a livestock operation that contains at least 1,000 animal units, that discharges pollutants to a navigable water, or that contaminates a well. The budget increased their WPDES fees from $345 to $660 annually, and establish a fee of $3,270 upon initial issuance of a permit and every five years thereafter. Provide 5.0 positions to help monitor CAFO’s and water quality within this continuing appropriation, Rather than increasing the amount to the extent the governor wished, more of the money from the fees plus tax dollars will be used for the positions.
Despite major cuts, the state budget that was signed into law made significant leaps forward in funding for clean water and energy programs.
Services for sex trafficking victims: $3,000,0000 (same as in last budget). It is difficult to know exactly how this will be used yet and how much of it will support youth, but we have been steady supporters of this funding remaining in the budget.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rule that would eliminate an estimated 3.1 million children, families, disabled and older adults from access to SNAP benefits. The comment period ends on September 23. We are supporting our D.C. office in their efforts:
Public Charge Rule Slated to Take Effect: “The Trump administration expanded public charge rule is a punitive measure that will stoke fear and increase suffering in immigrant communities. This new policy would impose an unprecedented income test on persons seeking legal entry to the United States and deny entrance if they are judged likely to be or ever in the future become a “public charge” entitled to assistance with nutrition, housing or healthcare.” ELCA Advocacy blog: https://blogs.elca.org/advocacy/punitive-public-charge-rule-slated-to-take-effect/?fbclid=IwAR2R6I177PR6zFChNkL-k2_cCYnyGbuYHHU1n7sbCwdRrmRsxr-Ead2FJHU
National Immigration Law Center with details of the impact: https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/pubcharge/proposed-changes-to-public-charge-rule-faq/?fbclid=IwAR21E1VA88K3inLJSU8SxLTZTlBt50cbN50Wjw1zel3PXhJ7cb5CkJI2_T4#02
Air: Gov. Tony Evers via an executive order, is creating a new office to help achieve his goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. Evers included the goal in his state budget in March but the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee erased the proposal from the final spending plan. Executive orders are not as strong as legislation passed, but it is one of the ways a governor working with a legislature that is not as friendly to the environment can make a difference. The order requires the office to achieve his 100% carbon-free goal. The order also calls for the state to follow carbon reduction goals in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.
Interesting Climate Resource: Via the Wisconsin Climate Table, I received this resource, Environment America Research & Policy Center. Governor Evers has already begun to do some of the things suggested for governors working with legislatures that move slowly to address climate change.
- Two bill that would recommit that $40 million for lead pipe replacement around the state.
- The governor has named 2019 The Year of Clean Drinking Water
- The Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force: Republican Representative Todd Novak is chairing this task force. I attended the first two informational hearings for several hours each and worked with our former intern to create a resource and PPT based on many of the materials that were available online from the presentations. https://legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/committees/assembly/STF-WQ/
Upcoming Event: Rally on anti-sex trafficking: on September 24. WELCA members from ECSW, NWSW, and SCSW are co-organizing this with LOPPW! Details to follow.
What’s New? LOPPW has a new growing resource on addressing immigration issues and a new event page on our website!