The Wisconsin State Legislature’s review of Gov. Scott Walker’s 2017-2019 biennial state budget proposal kicked off this week as various executive branch agency heads appeared before the Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) to provide information and answer questions.
During Tuesday’s session—the first of three straight days of agency briefings—many JCF members raised questions about the governor’s proposal to self-fund health insurance for state and some local employees. Both Republican and Democratic members of the committee questioned the budget’s assumption that the state will see $60 million in savings from the proposal, while also raising concerns about potential disruptions to the health insurance market overall.
On Wednesday Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer testified on a variety of topics, including that the $275 million in additional funds for Medicaid included in the budget is the smallest increase for that program since the 2007-2009 budget. She also shared the Department’s concerns over the federal health care reform debate, expressing the desire that Wisconsin should be “rewarded” for not expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
After this week’s hearings, JCF hits the road with six public hearings in April in various parts of the state. The committee then will take up the budget agency by agency, voting to maintain, amend or delete individual proposals. After that, the budget bill heads to the full State Senate and Assembly for approval, then to the governor’s desk for signature and possible partial vetoes. The Governor’s office hopes to have the budget signed into law by the July 4 holiday.
Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, for more information.
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