Last week, and Hudson-area state legislators — both Republicans — commented on it.
Today, local Democrats responded.
Roy Sjoberg, co-chairman of the St. Croix County Democratic Party, issued the following initial reaction to Walker's budget in an email sent to Hudson Patch:
This is the initial response of the St. Croix County Democratic Party to Governor Scott Walker’s February 20, 2013 budget address and his 580-page proposed budget for 2013-15. Our locally elected state officials have stated their willingness to listen to the input from the public, and we are thankful for that, because much needs to be improved with respect to Governor Walker’s proposal.
Job Creation Report Card.
The test results are in and no spin can twist the facts of the state ranking 42nd out of 50 in job creation during Governor Walker’s term from June 2011 to June 2012, even behind Alabama, as reported in the Journal Sentinel January 2013. This budget fails to introduce any substantive economic development programs and fails to repair the $72 million in cuts in the last budget for worker training. Governor Walker has cut the vocational technical funding to the 1989 levels and now wonders why we cannot create jobs or fill the skilled positions that are open.
Decision to Turn Down Federal Medicaid Offer to Cost the State $254 Million.
As stated in Senator Baldwin’s letter to the Governor dated February 21, 2013, “By turning down the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion in your state budget, you have passed up another opportunity to improve health coverage and bring new jobs to our state.” Wisconsin taxpayers will still pay our same federal income taxes, but now that tax money will go to pay for our neighboring states’ expanded Medicaid programs. According to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau report two weeks ago, the state could save $254 million through 2020 by fully utilizing the federal Medicaid funding offer.
Turning down the federal Medicaid money is a very poor decision that our Governor has made. We all know that a number of other Republican-led state governments, including Governor Rick Scott of Florida, have realized that it would be the height of folly to turn down the federal government’s offer, especially now that the Affordable Care Act has been reaffirmed by President Obama’s reelection and the Democratic strengthening of its control of the US Senate.
As a consequence of the Governor’s budget, there will be an expanding number of Wisconsin residents who won’t be able to afford any health insurance. For some of those people, an unexpected accident will occur or an already existing illness will worsen. For some, it will mean the loss of a farm, a small business, or their retirement savings. Jon Peacock, research director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families has stated in response to the proposed budget, “A significant percentage … just aren’t going to be able to afford the cost-sharing of the [federal] exchange.”
If you are resident of St. Croix County and (1) you find that you have lost your eligibility to retain coverage under BadgerCare and are not able to afford coverage as a result of Governor Walker’s rejection of the expansion of Medicaid in Wisconsin, or (2) you are a low income individual who would have become eligible under the federal government’s Medicaid expansion but now you continue to be ineligible as a result of Governor Walker’s rejection, please contact us at the St. Croix County Democratic Party. Your story needs to be heard by our locally elected state representatives so they will better understand the potentially tragic, personal impact of Governor Walker’s budget, if it is left unchanged.
Budget Deficit to Increase by 29%
Hard to imagine how Governor Walker, in this day of concern over deficit spending, has proposed a budget that would increase the state deficit using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (“GAAP”) in its main account by nearly $600 million over the two years from $2.06 to $2.64 billion, as reported on page 33 of the Governor’s Budget Summary. There can be no honest and forthright claim that this budget is balanced. In fact, in the February 22, 2013 issue of the Journel Sentinel PolitiFact publication, written by Dave Umhoefer, the Governor’s 2010 campaign promise was declared to be a Promise Broken on their Walk-O-Meter.
Turning His Back on Public Schools.
Governor Walker previously cut public school funding by $1.6B. This budget does nothing to repair the damage. The proposed budget does not add back a single penny to the classrooms. Through a “game-playing” accounting procedure, the budget provides a phantom aid increase to schools of $129.2M, but then through a revenue cap, does not permit the schools to use that money. Just watch, the Governor will claim that he has increased school funding, while in reality, he has not.
But to make matters worse, the budget expands the voucher program, which takes your tax money to pay for the wealthy to attend private schools and leave the public schools to fail. This action will only continue Wisconsin’s downward economic spiral, which has our state lagging nationally in job growth.
Rejection of Women’s Health Concerns.
By defunding women’s health clinics such as those run by Planned Parenthood, women continue to be treated by this administration as second-class citizens. As a result of the budget cuts, thousands of rural women in this state will be without birth control, cervical cancer screenings and other forms of life-saving health care.
A Democratic Budget Would Look Much Different.
A true middle class budget would provide Wisconsin families with:
- A stronger education system by refunding the devastating cuts of last session to ensure our children have access to quality education.
- A stronger BadgerCare system, fully funded and truly covering 175,000 more working Wisconsinites.
- A middle class jobs plan that increases access to worker training, access to capital for small businesses and incentivizes buying Wisconsin and buying American.
What do you think of the Democrats' reaction? Tell us in the comments.