As neighboring states in the Midwest, Wisconsin and Minnesota have more in common than they do differences. Yet the two states took very different approaches to implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, and have achieved very different results.
Paying More to Cover Fewer People
A key component of the ACA is the opportunity to receive additional funding from the federal government to strengthen our safety net program, BadgerCare, by filling the gaps in coverage. In fact, the federal government offered 100% of the funding needed to fill the coverage gap for the first three years and at least 90% in subsequent years. In February, our governor announced he would reject the ACA's recommended path to pursue his own Medicaid plan, which will cost the state more taxpayer money to cover fewer Wisconsinites.
The Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee (JFC) had an opportunity to set Wisconsin back on the right track when it took up this portion of the state budget on June 4, 2013. Instead, they approved most of the governor's plan in a 12-4 vote. Senate Democrats introduced several amendments on the floor to the 2013-15 state budget pertaining to Medicaid funding including an amendment to accept the full Medicaid expansion funding. This amendment was rejected by the Republican majority.
The 21st Assembly District in Wisconsin (see the map on the left) experienced a sudden job opening when Republican Mark Honadel resigned to take up more lucrative work in the private sector (perhaps working for the mining industry). Republicans will hold a primary in October. Democrats have a great opportunity to pick up an assembly seat: Democrat Elizabeth Coppola from South Milwaukee, who currently serves on the Milwaukee County Development Commission, is on the ballot in the November 19 special election.
This district voted for President Obama in 2008 but flipped to Mitt Romney by 51%-48%. It's a very "swingy" district and Dems have a very good chance to pick up this seat if progressives pitch in to help Ms. Coppola. Visit her campaign's FaceBook page to get to know her and to find out more about her campaign.
You can also find out more about the district as well the Republicans vying to run against Ms. Coppola in this blog post on Daily Kos.
The League of Women Voters is supporting and joining the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on August 24, 2013, organized by the National Action Network. Nothing could be more important to progressives everywhere, to Wisconsin, and to the nation. Please show your support by taking action. Even if you can't be in DC this Saturday, you can make your voice heard by writing to members of Congress and by supporting the work of the League of Women Voters nationally and in Milwaukee County.
The pace of job growth in Wisconsin, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, "still lags." Here's the key paragraph from the story:
According to the Madison-based state Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin gained 24,124 private-sector jobs in the 12 months between March 2012 and March 2013, an increase of 1.1% in the workforce. That's a marked deceleration from the previous report, using comparable data, which showed the state added 32,282 private-sector jobs in the 12 months through December 2012, a 1.4% increase.
According to the article, Wisconsin's pace of job growth -- 1.4% per year -- is significantly below the national pace -- 2.3% for private sector jobs.
The CapTimes calculates that Wisconsin will need to add 8,505 private sector jobs per month in order to fulfill Scott Walker's pledge to create 250,000 new jobs in his first (and with hard work his only) term as governor. He is halfway through his term but only 29% of the way to honoring his promise.
See another Capital Times article, "The Great Recession's impact on Wisconsin," for a succinct visualization of the state of our state's economy.
From the IWF (Institute for Wisconsin's Future):
Here’s something political that you can do this summer that amounts to a pleasant walk around your neighborhood, meeting the great people who live around you to push an important issue. Whitefish Bay and Shorewood will join the Move to Amend movement to reform our election system. As you know, big money has perverted democracy. There has been more than enough evidence. Think about the failure of Congress to pass background checks on firearms, despite support from 90% of the public — including gun owners. Closer to home we have seen the breath-taking transformation of our state from our tradition of fair-mindedness and progressive ideas to one being run by one of the biggest collection of ignorant, mean-spirited people in Wisconsin legislative history.Read more
State Sen. Chris Larson effectively summarizes all that is wrong with the budget bill. In addition to denying women importan health rights, they are punishing the victims of sexual assault, encouraging unqualified individuals to perform invasive medical procedures, implementing an unfunded mandate on women, and all while continuing to lag economically.Read more