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Legislature completes state budget work; Gov. Evers requests immediate delivery

The Wisconsin State Senate Wednesday afternoon completed the state legislature’s work on the 2019-2021 biennial state budget, approving an $81.7 billion spending plan on a narrow 17-16 vote. Coupled with approval by the State Assembly on Tuesday night, the package will now be sent to Governor Tony Evers for final action.

The budget as presented to the Governor contains several positive health care items, including:

  • $24 million in base reimbursement increases for physician and behavioral health services.
  • $6.8 million added for telehealth reimbursement services.
  • An almost $900,000 increase in funding for the “hub and spoke” substance abuse treatment model, aimed at supporting people in recovery for opioid use disorder. The provision would also allow opioid treatment programs to seek grants from the state for methadone treatment.
  • Adding $500,000 in funding for the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program.
  • $100,000 for the Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Division of Public Health to help conduct a statewide, “science-based” public outreach/education campaign on vaccinations.

Gov. Evers’ potential actions on the budget bill are broad, ranging from vetoing the entire budget bill to signing the bill as presented to him without making any line item vetoes. The final result is likely somewhere in between these two extremes, as Wisconsin’s governors have historically enjoyed creative veto powers – including the ability to veto individual words in a sentence and “write down” an appropriation amount by inserting a smaller dollar figure.

Gov. Evers has already called for the bill to be delivered to him once it is in a form that reflects the final amendments the legislature added to the version of the budget approved by the Joint Committee on Finance. Once the enrolled bill is sent, Gov. Evers must take final action within six days (Sundays excluded). This means that if the bill is presented to the Governor today, he will need to take final actions by Thursday, July 4. But considering that the Governor has already called for the bill, that could be an indication he is prepared to act before the full six days elapse.

Contact Lisa Davidson, Mark Grapentine, JD or HJ Waukau for more information.

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