Wisconsin Budget Law Would Put Governor In Charge Of Medicaid -- So He Can Stop Health Care Law

It's pretty clear that the end game for all this is to defund state Medicaid programs and make it impossible to serve as part of the new health care safety net. What, you thought Republicans were above dirty tricks like playing with people's lives?

CHICAGO -- The 14 Democratic state senators who left Wisconsin to avoid a vote on Thursday said that they will only return when Gov. Scott Walker is ready to talk.

That’s according to Sen. Jon Erpenbach, of Middleton, one of the absent lawmakers, who is currently in Chicago. Earlier on Thursday, all 14 senators had been together at the Clock Tower Resort hotel in Rockford, Ill. The legislators were fanned out across Illinois on Friday morning.

[...] "This is an extreme piece of legislation, and this was our only option, as extreme as it was," he said.
Walker said he’s looking at legal options to bring the missing lawmakers back to the Capitol, but no Wisconsin law can compel Erpenbach and the other 13 Democrats who fled the state to return.

“(Walker’s) job is to lead responsibly; his job is to lead by consensus, if at all possible. It’s his job to sit down and talk to people about here’s where we are, how are we all going to get where we all need to be”, said Erpenbach.

[...] He’s concerned about what many protesters may not know, that the budget bill does more than strip away public workers’ collective bargaining rights and increase their contributions to their health care and pensions. It also leaves the future of the state’s health care programs up in the air.

“There are some substantial Medicaid changes in here where the governor, all of a sudden, is in charge of Medicaid, which is SeniorCare, which is BadgerCare. And he has never once said what he intends to do,” said Erpenbach.

For those who felt the move by the group, now dubbed the "Wisconsin 14"’, was a sign of their unwillingness to bend, Erpenbach said this:

“In the end, what’s going to happen is the public employees are going to pay on their pension and pay on their health care. We all know that, they all know that. They’re OK with that. The one thing the public employees do not understand is why (Walker) is going after unions.”

Via Blogging Blue, this update from WI State Sen. Marc Pocan:

Governor Scott Walker’s manufactured $3.6 billion state budget deficit in the next biennium is rapidly unraveling as a bogus figure. Yesterday I pointed out that the figure is based on $3.9 billion in new agency requests (Table 1) for a spending increase of 6.2%, a figure we noted is never approved by the legislature. Those are REQUESTS, not actual dollars expended.

Well today the non-partisan legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo showing that in the current state budget, agencies requested a 9.7% increase in GPR dollars, yet were given an actual REDUCTION of 2.6%. That’s a difference of nearly $3.5 billion!

That means this isn’t just a bunch of Democrats looking at the numbers that are being used to put a budget together and crying foul; this is hard and cold reality from a respected, unbiased resource – the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

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