Democrats lament loss of $4.8 billion for state budget

    Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee at a news conference
    Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee at a news conference

    On Wednesday, the Legislature’s budget committee continued working its way through the budget by department, but Democrats took the opportunity to reflect on decisions that have been made over the past year by Republicans who control the Legislature that have cost taxpayers billions in potential revenue, federal aid or other funds they dubbed “missed opportunities.” The total comes in at $4.8 billion.

    Joint Finance Committee JFC Democratic Reps. Erpenbach, Goyke, Johnson, Neubauer (Photo via FaceBook)

    “In a matter of weeks, Republicans cost our state $1.6 billion by rejecting BadgerCare expansion and are gambling an additional $1.5 billion for our kids by failing to maintain the State’s investment in public schools,” the four Democrats who sit on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) said in a statement. “Families, schools, and small businesses depend on a responsible budget that invests in our priorities.”

    It is not just the $1 billion in additional no-strings-attached revenue being rejected by Republicans because they refuse to expand Medicaid, or BadgerCare as it is called in Wisconsin. 

    Here is the list put together by Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point), Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine): 

    “In the past year, Republicans have “missed opportunities” for Wisconsin working families in the following ways:

    • May 2020, Republicans lost out on $25 million in federal funding to help unemployment benefits because they were too slow to act on the first COVID relief bill.
    • Wisconsin almost lost $70 million per month in federal FoodShare money because of a Republican lawsuit to strike down the Governor’s health emergency order, only saved by quick action and negotiations by Governor Evers.
    • Republicans have rejected $1.6 billion in additional federal funding by refusing to expand BadgerCare.
    • Wisconsin has lost a separate $1.6 billion since 2013 by not expanding BadgerCare.
    • Last week, Republicans underfunded the education budget so severely, Wisconsin may lose out on $1.5 billion in federal aid for schools.”
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    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.