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Joint Finance Committee removes hundreds of provisions from Gov. Tony Evers’s budget

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 8:48 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - After a vote, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) pulled nearly 400 items from Governor Evers’ Budget Thursday.

Among the items of high importance:

Legislators on the JFC spent more than an hour debating the importance of expanding Badger Care, a state Medicaid program for low-income Wisconsinites.

“This is an extension of welfare,” State Rep. Mark Born (R) 39th District said. “I will tell it like it is, and that is what this is.”

Born is also the Co-Chair of the JFC.

“$1 billion of that $1.6 billion that Republicans are going to say no to, we will never ever have the opportunity to get that back,” State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) 27th District said.

Democrats fought to keep the state Medicaid program in the budget, arguing that poor families and communities are struggling to afford health care, especially during the pandemic.

“We all come from different walks of life, but this is just really irritating,” State Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D) 6th District said.

Republicans say Wisconsinites are just as able to find coverage under private providers or federal programs like the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“My colleagues on the left say that this is not affordable. Is $5 a month not affordable?” State Rep. and Assistant Maj. Leader Mary Felzkowski said.

By removing hundreds of these items there is now a surplus of more than $3 billion left to spend.

“We wanted to make sure we were re-setting ourselves to base, we have a large surplus now to work off of for tax cuts and investments in priorities,” Born said.

“We’re still on the first day, there’s a lot of work left to do, and I hope that my colleagues will listen to the people we heard from,” State Rep. Greta Neubauer (D) 66th District said.

Committee Co-chairs, Rep. Born and State Sen. Howard Marklein introduced their own adjustments to the budget following the committee’s decision.

Besides Medicaid expansion, some other provisions removed include legalizing marijuana, re-instating collective bargaining rights and making it easier for immigrants to obtain a driver’s licenses and state IDs.

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