Legislative Update: June 7

Medicaid expansion scrapped. The Joint Finance Committee has passed up an opportunity to fully expand Medicaid. On a party-line vote, the GOP majority voted to add $858.4 million in general purpose revenue into the Medicaid program, but not to use federal funds available under the Afforadale Care Act. Governor Tony Evers proposed to fully expand Medicaid, which would have saved the state $324 million in General Purpose Revenue and resulted in an additional $1.6 billion investment in health programs – freeing up state funds to support schools and roads.

In other action, the Joint Finance Committee voted to boost Department of Children & Families programs by $125.5 million. This is $22.9 million less than the governor proposed.

Voucher spending detailed. Analysis of the education budget passed through the Joint Finance Committee last week shows that students enrolled in private voucher schools would again receive higher per-pupil payments than public school students. 

Public schools would be capped at increasing per-pupil spending by approximately $200 in 2019-20 and $204 in 2020-21, while payments for voucher school tuition would increase by an estimated $229 in the first year of the budget, and $275 in the second year. 

The budget submitted by Governor Tony Evers had included limits to annual adjustments in voucher payments tied to what public school students receive. The finance committee put the brakes on those limits, however, and is advancing a budget in which voucher schools would continue to get larger per-pupil increases. Privately run charters schools would receive the same increases as vouchers. Open enrollment transfer payments would come in over public school per-pupil increases under the JFC budget, increasing about $329 per pupil in 2019-20, and $375 in 2020-21. 

Transportation budget passes out of committee. The JFC passed a transportation funding plan that would increase vehicle title fees by $95 and raise car registration costs.The proposal, which passed on an 11-5 vote over opposition from Democrats and GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, doesn’t include the gas tax hike Evers sought and instead relies instead mostly on fee increases to generate new revenue. Democrats argued that vehicle and registration fees are only paid by Wisconsin residents while gas taxes are paid by all road users, including travelers from out of state.

Redistricting. A federal appeals court has put off deciding whether Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has to testify in a redistricting lawsuit until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in two cases involving similar issues. If the Court rules against those challenging the maps in Maryland and North Carolina, it likely means Vos won’t have to provide any testimony on Assembly GOP campaign strategy and other issues.