Wisconsin Disability Budget Proposals
This Budget section has information about the state budget process. Detailed information includes an analysis of the budget proposed by the Governor, amendments put forward by the legislature, and budget alternatives developed by disability advocates. Talking points on the budget are also included.
2011-2013 Wisconsin Biennial Budget
The 2011-2013 biennial budget was signed into law as Act 32 by Governor Walker on June 26. The budget passed by the legislature essentially approved the budget proposed by Governor Walker with some minor changes and exceptions.
The overall budget outcomes are grim for people with developmental disabilities: Though Medicaid funding increases by $1.2 billion, it is projected that an additional $1.8 billion is needed to continue the program in its current capacity. Many programs are flat funded – which will likely result in program cuts as enrollment and costs of services increase.
Below is a summary of the major budget items that will affect people with developmental disabilities in Wisconsin:
Medicaid is the major source of health care and long-term care supports and services for people with disabilities.
Final: Cuts $447 million and allows the Department of Health Services to decide what should be cut.
Dental health is a major concern for people with developmental disabilities.
Final: Provides $850,000 each year for grants to dental clinics and $250,000 in the second year for the Seal-a-Smile program by cutting funds for the tobacco use control grants.
Family Care, IRIS, Partnership, and Pace are long-term care programs for the elderly and adults with disabilities. These programs currently operate in 58 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Expansion of these programs was planned to cover every county in the state by 2013. When these programs become available in their counties, individuals become entitled to services within three years.
Final: Freezes new enrollments in programs and stops expansion to other counties. Adds $5 million in state funding each year to assist individuals in crisis. Relocations of individuals from institutions to the community are exempt from the cap.
Community Options Program and Community Integration Program:
These programs are known as the “legacy waivers.” They exist in areas without Family Care and the other managed long-term care programs. There is no entitlement to services under these waiver programs.
Final: No new state-funded slots. Continues with frozen funding and counties may provide funding to add slots.
Family Care Independent Advocacy/Ombudsman Program:
This program provides advocacy support to individuals having problems with the Family Care or IRIS programs.
Final: Continues advocacy services with current funding.
Children’s Long-Term Supports:
These supports are waiver programs that specifically meet the needs of children. There is no entitlement to services and a waiting list exists.
Final: No new state-funded slots. Continues with frozen funding and.counties may provide funding to add slots.
Birth to Three Program:
This is an entitlement program for young children with development issues and their families.
Final: Continues as entitlement to every eligible child.
Aids to Counties and Municipalities:
These aids are known as shared revenues. They fund a variety of local services, from transportation to mental health services. Cuts to shared revenues heavily impact these services.
Final: Cuts $76.75 million in aid for counties and municipalities. Locks in current property tax levels.
Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC):
Low-income workers benefit from EITC. When the credits are more than taxes owed, money is refunded to the worker.
Final: Cuts credit by more than 15%.
Medicaid, Food Share, and Caretaker Supplement programs are considered Income Maintenance. Eligibility for these programs is currently conducted by counties.
Final: Legislature replaced Governor’s proposal with plan to develop 10 multi-county consortia outside Milwaukee County to assess eligibility. Individuals trying to apply may have trouble traveling to one of the sites, have to wait or have to apply online.
Centers for the Developmentally Disabled:
The two remaining institutions which provide long-term care for individuals with significant disabilities are Central and Southern Centers.
Final: Increase funding to Southern Center to increase number of staff based on re-estimates of need.
Special Education Categorical Aids:
School districts receive partial reimbursement of costs of providing special education services through these categorical aids.
Final: Continues with frozen funding, causing reimbursement rates of costs incurred by school districts to drop from 27.9% to 24.5%.
General School Aids:
School districts heavily rely on state funding assistance to operate. The cuts detailed below are drastic and may not be filled by changes in collective bargaining for teachers.
Final: Cuts $749.4 million in general aids to school districts. Based on projected future costs, cuts actually amount to over $1.5 billion. Legislature did create one-time general aid of $6.2 million in the first year to reduce cuts to poorer school districts.
School vouchers allow parents to receive subsidies to enroll their children in private schools. The subsidies are funded by decreasing the amount of state aid to the students’ home school districts. Students with significant disabilities generally do not benefit from school choice since private schools may not be able to provide the special education services that students need and have no obligation to accept all students who apply.
Final: Provides $11.9 million over biennium to the Milwaukee parental choice program to raise income eligibility aid to 300% of poverty level and delete the cap on the number of students who can participate. Provides almost $3 million in state funding over biennium to expand school choice to Racine schools for 250 students in the first year and 500 the second year. Expands school choice statewide to districts meeting eligibility criteria.
Revenue (Local Taxes) Cap:
Property taxes help fund schools. Revenue caps are currently in place, however, this budget reduces the amount that can be raised from property taxes and general school aids.
Final: Imposes a permanent 5.5% reduction in the revenue cap. Legislature created a fund of $42.5 million the second year for school districts for limit adjustments.
Early kindergarten is valuable to children with disabilities because it is often the first opportunity to be included with peers.
Final: Cuts start-up grants by 10% for new 4-year-old kindergarten programs. Existing programs are not cut, though they are likely affected by dramatic cuts in general school aids.
Homestead Tax Credit:
The credit softens the impact of property taxes and rent on persons with lower incomes. The benefit may take the form of an income tax credit or a direct refund.
Final: Ends inflationary adjustment of the credit for low- and moderate-income workers amounting to $8.1 million over the biennium.
Many people with developmental disabilities depend on mass transit and county-run programs to get to work, medical appointments, and conduct activities of daily living.
Final: Cuts $27.5 million over biennium from transit systems but gives $5 million to transit systems to provide paratransit. This cut is in addition to other cuts to counties and local governments that are major transportation providers. Eliminates regional transit authorities that could have expanded mass transit systems across municipal and county borders. Freezes funding for Elderly and Disabled Transportation Program. Locks in current property tax levels. Increases road building by at least $350 million.
Vocational rehabilitation counselors help people with developmental disabilities get and keep jobs by funding services and supports.
Final: Funded at the required level by the federal government, but not at a level high enough to draw down all the available federal funds for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Share Child Care Subsidies:
Low-income families with children with disabilities rely on subsidies to pay for child care. Depending upon the setting, child care can be an opportunity for inclusion with peers.
Final: Cuts $85 million over the biennium for direct child care services. Implements a waiting list for child care subsidies except for W-2 participants.
Parents with disabilities or with children with disabilities may be W-2 participants.
Final: Reduces payments to participants by $20 per person every month.
Capital gains are the profits earned when an investment is sold at a higher price than when it was bought. Capital gains are mainly earned by the top 2% of income earners.
Final: Completely eliminate taxes on investments held for at least five years in Wisconsin businesses. Reduces revenue to the state.
2011-2013 Budget Resources
- BPDD Budget Platform
- Survival Coalition 2011-2013 Budget Papers
- Survival Coalition Ideas for the DHS Town Hall Meetings
- State Budget Talking Points for Advocates
- Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Budget Analysis
- Joint Finance Budget Hearings