JFC Recap: Disability Issues in the State Budget
Assembly to take up budget next; advocates can still take action
Early this morning, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) completed its work on the 2013-2015 State Budget. The Assembly will address and vote on the state budget in the coming weeks. The following is a recap of the final motions adopted by JFC on key disability issues that disability advocates have been tracking:
Special needs scholarships: JFC voted to adopt Alternative 4 from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s Budget Paper #517, which would delete the provision for special need scholarships.
Special education funding: A motion by the minority party to increase funding for Categorical Aids by $64M in 2014-15 was not adopted in a 12-4 party-line vote.
Medicaid Expansion: In a 12-4 party-line vote, Republican members of JFC voted to reject a Democratic motion to accept federal money designated for expansion of BadgerCare as part of implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Family Care/IRIS expansion: A minority party motion to expand Family Care and IRIS long-term supports for the elderly and people with disabilities waiting in northeast Wisconsin was not adopted in a 12-4 party-line vote. JFC voted to put off the decision and required another study that will be due in December 2013.
Children’s Long-Term Care Supports: A motion by the minority party to increase funding for Children’s Long-Term Care Supports (CLTS) by $5.463M in 2013 and $10M in 2014-15 was defeated in a 12-4 party-line vote. If adopted, the motion would have taken 482 children with significant disabilities off the CLTS waitlist annually and provided short-term assistance to another 300 children annually under the CLTS waiver.
Transit: There was an increase in Para-transit funding of $250,000 per year putting the total annual funding at $2.75 million. On May 23rd, there was a vote increasing transit funding by 4% beginning in 2014; however, on June 5th, the committee voted to delay the increase until January of 2015. This motion also kept transit in the transportation fund.
With the budget moving to the Assembly, disability advocates can still make a difference and improve the lives of people with disabilities in Wisconsin. If you are concerned about any of these issues, contact your legislators!