Friday April 20, 2018

Always Forward with Education & Reason

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

Looking forward with education and reason.

Subscribe to feed Latest Entries

Governor Walker’s Re-election Health Care Plan

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 23 January 2018
in Wisconsin

walker-rejects-fedmoneyGov. Walker has finally decided to join most Americans and support the Affordable Care Act, so now it’s time to bring our Federal taxpayer dollars back.


MADISON - Even though last year he fought for repeal, in his re-election campaign now Governor Walker has finally decided to join most Americans and support the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in Wisconsin have always worked to strengthen our health care system and now Governor Walker finally joins us in that fight. Now it’s time for Governor Walker to bring our Federal taxpayer dollars back to Wisconsin and expand BadgerCare – our state has now lost over $1 billion because of Governor Walker’s refusal to expand BadgerCare.

These newly loved Democratic plans are a drop in the bucket compared to what accepting funds to expand BagerCare could do for the people of this state. Finally, without a CHIP extension, Wisconsin will have a huge hole in our Medicaid budget so maybe this plan should include a Governor Walker guarantee Congress will extend CHIP for the children of this state.

On Reinsurance funds: Reinsurance is a tool that has been used by other states including Minnesota who funded $500 million. Governor Walker’s plan is less than half of what Minnesota invested which begs the question, is it really enough to lower the premium for participants?

On $50 million in Medicaid savings – The Medicaid report just came out and counts on Congress renewing CHIP. I wish Governor Walker could waive his magic wand to make Congress renew CHIP for the children of Wisconsin, where is that promise? Without it we will have a huge hole in our Medicaid budget.

On SeniorCare Medicare Part D exemption permanent – That’s up to the Federal government – the current SeniorCare extension was just filed (down to the wire). Seniors have basically had to beg Governor Walker to renew it for the past ten years. Again – glad he is finally willing to commit to always renewing the SeniorCare waiver – something he has NEVER been willing to do before.

On the preexisting conditions bill – I am curious why Governor Walker did not like this proposal when it was an Erpenbach/Riemer proposal. Clearly coverage for preexisting conditions is – and has always been – a huge concern for the people of Wisconsin. Governor Walker did not speak up when President Donald Trump and Congress tried to repeal ObamaCare – it is interesting that he is speaking up now.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Governor’s Call for Special Session on Welfare

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 20 January 2018
in Wisconsin

walkerWalker's call for special session on welfare reform last Thursday was attempt to divert people’s attention from latest Republican failures says Green Bay Senator.


GREEN BAY - Adam Jarchow lost in Tuesday’s senate election in part because he and his Republican friends chose to attack struggling families.

Despite voters’ rejection of these types of attacks, Governor Walker sees them as his opportunity to excite his supporters and shift their attention away from the fact that he, President Trump and Republicans in Madison and Congress have failed to help improve their lives.

Instead of giving a Taiwanese billionaire over $4 billion that will do little to help the vast majority of people in this state, a more informed governor might have decided instead to invest that money into our own families, businesses, schools and roads all across the state.

Now, seeing that his reelection ploy is not working, he is trying to divert the people’s attention by calling a special session to wage new attacks on working families and the poor.

Governor Walker’s call for a special session is another sign that he and legislative Republicans are running scared. It is a transparently political move that is just another reason so many people are voting for real change in Wisconsin and around the country.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Tuesday's Vote Swing Shows Healthcare Professionals Engaged in Elections

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 19 January 2018
in Wisconsin

healthcareHealthcare professionals see elections as a necessary part of their work.


STATEWIDE - Healthcare professionals are getting involved in the 2018 Wisconsin elections. “I’m tired of the attacks on BadgerCare and I’m tired of the government not putting any regulations on pharmaceutical companies jacking up prices,” said Lynn Carey, a retired nurse who helped in Dennis Degenhardt’s race in Assembly District 58, “I volunteered for Dennis because of his stance on healthcare.” The seat swung 25% in the direction of the Democrat candidate.

Dawn Garcia, a healthcare consultant, volunteered for Patty Schachtner in her Senate District 10 win. Senate District 10 is a traditionally Republican district, but Schachtner won on the message of fully expanding BadgerCare and increasing mental health resources. Garcia state, “I think healthcare professionals are realizing that they have the power and responsibility to change the US healthcare system, and part of that is getting involved in elections.”

Garcia and Carey are part of Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s organizing co-ops network forming across the state, including the Western Wisconsin Co-op which includes Senate District 10 and Healthcare for All co-op in Southeast Wisconsin and which is made up of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals.

“We are only just beginning,” said Carey. The group is putting on a “Healthcare Jeopardy” governor candidate forum on Saturday, January 27 at 9:30am at MATC Milwaukee. They expect for the room to be full of newly politically-engaged healthcare professionals looking to get involved.

In addition to the health professionals involved, Citizen Action of Wisconsin Western and North Central Wisconsin Organizing Co-ops members also volunteered the Senate District 10 election.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

How Haste Empowers the "Shadow Legislature"

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 16 January 2018
in Wisconsin

mta-madisonLast week, 49 committees took action on 150 bills. This hasty process allows for out-of-state “Shadow Legislature” groups to push for action on bills while Wisconsin citizens struggle to keep up with the process and make their voice heard.


MADISON, WI - “Who put all this policy in the budget?” I whispered to my colleague the night the budget passed. “Groups,” he said glumly. “I call it the ‘Shadow Legislature.’”

These groups are often from outside Wisconsin and often funded by large donors. Behind the scenes, they push for policy, added at the last minute, which is unrelated to the state budget but changed laws.

Recently, these groups came out of the shadows to directly ask for what they wanted.

It was a busy week in the Capitol. Forty-nine committee hearings and 150 bills moved in three days. Lawmakers scrambled to research complex bills.

Big issues were debated. Should lawmakers further limit the powers of local schools to set referenda? Should the state take away more local power to set rules related to workers? Voted out of committee were bills to limit pollution rules and shut down state air monitoring.

public-hearing-emptyHearings scheduled with short notice made it difficult for interested citizens to follow the flurry of activity.

In an effort to be informed, Glory Adams from Eau Claire took advantage of the legislative notification system on four topics: local control, and environmental, consumer and worker protections.

Glory found out about a bill to take away local powers that I had missed. I called her to thank her for her vigilance. Glory explained how difficult it was to stay informed. “I get 25 or 30 notices a day,” Glory said. “I can’t keep up with them.”

No one can.

Many bills were moving to public hearings and a vote with only a few days’ notice. The speed and volume of bills made it tough to gain any meaningful public input. Sometimes, the only person testifying on a bill, besides the legislative author of the bill, was a representative of an out-of-state group pushing the bill.

For example, a group from Tallahassee, Florida sent a young man named Jared to push legislation on their behalf. Besides the Senate author, Jared was the only one to testify on the bill. The group is one of several working to do away with professional licensing.

I asked Jared where else he was sent to push for action on bills. “I’ve been working on bills in Arizona,” he said. “I’ve also been to Indiana and Florida. I recently testified in Nebraska.” Jared lives in Washington, D.C. “But I grew up in Illinois,” he offered, hoping that fact would help.

It didn’t.

In two cases, bills were pushed by outside groups to get out from under insurance rules. In one case, a different group from Tallahassee, Florida wanted to take a car insurance product and make it a financial contract. After much research, it seems to me the current law protects consumers from companies looking to make a big profit. Changing the law would eliminate those protections.

In another case, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute pushed a bill to sell a type of health insurance that would not really be health insurance. At least not with the protections currently provided in law.

“People don’t realize these bills don’t even originate in Wisconsin,” Glory Adams noted. “They come from various organizations, and are repeated here… Often times [the bill] doesn’t even apply to Wisconsin. [The groups] aren’t looking at the needs of Wisconsin.”

With so many hearings scheduled at the same time, the chairs of many legislators were empty. “They aren’t even listening to us,” one man said. I began to wonder if the leaders really wanted any public input.

This process of haste and obscurity diminishes the public voice. Lawmakers aren’t hearing Wisconsin citizens who are testifying. How do you create a thoughtful law or fix a bill when you do not hear about the unintended negative effects on Wisconsin from a proposal written by an out-of-state group?

At the end of a long day, I spoke with a woman from Ettrick who shared my opposition to a bill to eliminate the requirement of local government to put notices in the newspaper of their public meetings. “How am I going to know what’s going on?” she asked me.

Someday, when someone asks, “Where did my democracy go?” I will tell them about how haste and the influence of the “Shadow Legislature” suppressed the public voice.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Why Are My Property Taxes So High

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 09 January 2018
in Wisconsin

tax-billSenator Vinehout is often asked why property taxes increased while folks hear their property taxes are supposed to be less. She offers some reasons why some people are facing a bigger bill.


MADISON, WI - “I’m paying higher property taxes and I haven’t had a raise in years.” Sound familiar?

You are not alone.

Property taxes are a regressive tax – the tax falls harder on those with less means. Property tax bills take a bigger bite out of the paychecks of people who have not received a raise in years. At the same time, the very wealthy see their tax bill as a smaller share of their increasing piece of the pie.

I fielded many questions lately about property taxes.

Folks are hearing taxes are supposed to be lower. However, they see increases in property taxes and want to know why. “Who is benefiting when I’m not?’ one woman asked.

In some cases, recently passed school referenda are showing up on some tax bills.

Additionally, this year, people are learning that newly passed federal tax changes will prevent them from deducting their property taxes on their federal tax return.

Last month a report by the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance provided insight into understanding property taxes. Since statehood and before, the property tax has been Wisconsin’s largest state or local tax. After World War II, needs on a local level grew quickly. Property taxes increased as communities needed schools and other services for their residents. To help offset the increases, lawmakers sent state money to locals in the form of tax credits.

Wisconsin has a long history of providing public services locally. In contrast to some states where services are provided by the state, Wisconsinites value local services and local decision-making. But the state has not kept up in “sharing” the money through an aid called “shared revenue.”

For example, state spending for local aid (shared revenue) from the state was lower in 2017 than in 2007 using last year’s estimates from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

When needs grow, and state money does not keep pace, locals make decisions that end up raising property taxes. Schools are an example. Local schools are funded by state aid and local property taxes.

In recent years, the state has not kept up with the cost of local schools. In real dollars (adjusted for inflation), schools will be getting less in the next two years than a decade ago. To make up for rising costs and less state aid, referenda passed at record high rates. Passing school funding referenda raises property taxes.

When the Legislative session begins in January, a set of bills are pending that would help lower residential property taxes.

Big retail companies, like Walgreens, use a loophole to have their property taxes lowered, which shifts more of the tax to homeowners.

Known as the “dark store loophole” big retail companies have their property assessed as if the store was vacant and that lower value is used in computing property taxes. For example, the Mayor of Appleton testified, that a new drugstore cost $4.7 million to build and was assessed at $1.7 million. The city lost in court and paid the drugstore $800,000 in tax refunds.

“This is not about raising property taxes,” the Mayor told our committee. “This is about fairness. Because residents will pay more. We’re not raising taxes but your taxes are going up.”

The Appleton scenario was repeated as community after community came to testify. To make matters worse for local homeowners, the big stores used more local services that cost the city more resources.

The Mayor of Oshkosh testified, “Easily our police department responds to about 2,000 calls per year [from the big box stores]. The demand for services at these types of stores exceeds anything the so-called “dark store” would ever generate. … This is an unfair shift to residential property owners and their families.”

There are two bipartisan bills to fix the problem. The bills need votes to pass.

Solving the issue of high property taxes means, in part, providing more money from the state to locals. In my alternative budget, I added more money for schools, fixed the school aid formula so the money went where it was needed, and I increased aid to locals (shared revenue) by ten percent.

Increasing state aid makes schools and local government less reliant on property taxes, which takes the increasing burden off local property owners.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
Copyright © 2018. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com