Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Senator Leibham Capitol Connection E-Update ~ April 3, 2013

~ Budget Initiatives Focusing on Health Services and Children and Families ~

This week, I will continue my efforts to outline some of the major provisions in Governor Scott Walker’s recently proposed biennial state budget for 2013-15. Two weeks ago, I highlighted some of the major K-12 education priorities in the budget, and this week I will examine those portions of the budget that relate to health services and programs for children and families. Again, please remember that Governor Walker’s budget is simply a proposal at this time. The legislature now has an opportunity to make its own changes to the budget before it becomes law.

There are two primary state agencies that administer programs related to health services and children and families. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has a proposed annual budget of $1.1 billion, and the Department of Health Services (DHS) has an annual budget of around $10 billion. This substantial annual commitment of resources funds both state programs as well as federal programs (like Medicaid) that are administered by the state. While Governor Walker’s budget proposal contains numerous provisions related to health services and children and families, I have included descriptions of some of the most significant ones below:

Rising Medicaid Costs- The budget proposal starts with the fact that administering the various Medicaid programs currently in existence costs Wisconsin more each year. In fact, it would cost the state $1.1 billion in new money to simply fund Medicaid programs as required by current state and federal law over the next two years. There are several factors driving these increased costs. First, over the next few years, more individuals are expected to enroll in Medicaid programs as a result of many factors, including continuing tough economic conditions and the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Second, federal matching funds for Medicaid in Wisconsin are expected to decline. The budget provides $170 million in new taxpayer money (general purpose revenue) to replace this federal funding that has disappeared. Finally, costs to administer Wisconsin’s Medicaid program are increasing due to increasing enrollment and costs associated with implementation of the ACA. The budget provides an additional $76 million in new state funds over the biennium simply to fund increased administrative needs that will accompany the implementation of the ACA and other federal requirements in Wisconsin.

Changes to BadgerCare Plus Eligibility- The budget would create several changes to eligibility levels for BadgerCare effective on January 1, 2014, once the ACA has been implemented. Under the proposal, all adults living in poverty would be covered. Currently, certain nonelderly, nondisabled adults with incomes at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for BadgerCare Plus. The proposal would reduce this eligibility level to individuals at 100% of the FPL or below for all such adults. Individuals who would no longer be able to obtain BadgerCare coverage could receive health care coverage through the federal health care exchange created by the ACA. For nonelderly, nondisabled childless adults, this change would ensure that all such individuals with incomes below 100% FPL are eligible for BadgerCare, through the Core Plan. Currently, childless adults with incomes up to 200% FPL are eligible, but there has been a freeze on new enrollment since late 2009 which has prevented any new individuals from enrolling. The proposed budget would remove the freeze and allow all childless adults under 100% FPL to enroll.

Medicaid Residency Verification- The budget would streamline and improve the process of determining eligibility for Medicaid in Wisconsin by implementing an electronic residency verification system. This system would quickly and easily check the residency status on individuals applying for public assistance in Wisconsin to ensure that they are actually Wisconsin residents. The budget estimates that the implementation of this program would save $20.5 million over the biennium.

Carbone Cancer Center- The budget would provide $3.75 million over the biennium of new support for the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center to allow the development of new research and imaging projects and to support the Wisconsin Oncology Network. The proposal would require the Cancer Center to raise an equal amount of new funds from other sources.

Mental Health Treatment Expansion- The proposal would provide almost $30 million over the biennium to fund expanded mental health services across the state through a variety of initiatives. $16.7 of this money would go to an expansion of the Comprehensive Community Services program which is designed to provide individualized, community-based mental health services to children and adults. These services include psychiatric medication, mental health counseling, and other services. Additionally, the bill would create an Office of Children’s Mental Health to ensure that children’s mental health needs are being given direct attention. Finally, the bill would provide $1.3 million for expanded coverage of in-home counseling services and an additional $1.3 million for peer-run respite centers. Peer-run respite centers allow individuals experiencing a crisis situation to seek help from other individuals who have had the same kinds of experiences in the past.

Child Care Fraud Detection- The budget proposal would provide $1.4 million over the biennium to continue fraud prevention initiatives currently underway in the Wisconsin Shares child care program. Additionally, it would convert current temporary staff positions into 13 permanent positions to track, investigate, and stop occurrences of fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program. This funding will ensure that no backlog develops in fraud prevention activities.

Child Care Electronic Benefit Card- The proposal would further seek to reduce fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program for allowing for the creation of an electronic benefit transfer method of payment. Currently, DCF reimburses child care providers directly for costs association with the Wisconsin Shares program. Under the new proposal, DCF would directly give parents an electronic benefit card to use in making child care payments to providers. The goal of this provision is to reduce instances of providers defrauding the state by seeking reimbursement for services that were not provided. Since parents have a better understanding than the state of when their children are actually in child care, there is less of a chance that parents would pay for hours in which there was no care given.

These are a few of the major initiatives in Governor Walker’s budget related to health services and children and families. Again, the budget proposal contains many other related provisions. However, I have highlighted only a few that I think might be most interesting or relevant. To review all of the budget recommendations on these and other issues, I would encourage you to review a detailed memo on this issue by the legislature’s non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) at:

Over the next few months, I will be reviewing these provisions, along with the rest of the budget, as I continue to consider the Governor’s proposal. I continue to welcome your input on these and other important issues.

As always, it has been a pleasure communicating with you. Please remember to communicate with me and share your input by calling 888-295-8750, writing to me at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882, or by e-mailing me at . You can also log on to the 9th Senate District on-line office at

It is an honor representing the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate!

~ Senator Joe Leibham Announces State Budget Public Hearings and
9th Senate District Budget Input Sessions ~

Over the past several weeks, I have been sharing information on specific parts of Governor Scott Walker’s 2013-15 state budget proposal. I have received many thoughtful responses and much constructive input on each of these segments and I will continue to provide more information on the budget in the weeks to come.

As the budget process continues to move forward, I am pleased to announce that I will be hosting a set of State Budget Constituent Input Sessions for residents of the 9th Senate District in Plymouth, Chilton, Sheboygan, Kiel, Oostburg and Manitowoc. In an effort to reach as many people as possible, I have worked to offer sessions at varying times of the day, on weekdays and weekends. If you are interested in the state budget, I encourage you to attend.

The purpose of the Budget Input Sessions is to receive citizen input on the 2013-2015 state budget plan proposed by Governor Scott Walker and currently under consideration by the State Legislature. As I begin to review and deliberate the state budget plan, it is important that I hear from my constituents.

2013 – 2015 9th Senate District State Budget Input Sessions

Thursday, April 4, 2013
7:00 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.         Roadside Restaurant – 5575 N. State Road 57, Plymouth (back room)

Saturday, April 6, 2013
10 a.m. – Noon                 Chilton Public Library – 221 Park Street, Chilton

1:30-3:30 p.m.                  Sheboygan Municipal Courtroom (inside the Sheboygan Police Department) }
                                       1315 N. 23rd Street, Sheboygan

Saturday, April 13, 2013
8:00 – 9:30 a.m.               Kiel City Hall (Council Chambers) – 621 Sixth Street, Kiel

11 a.m. – Noon                Oostburg Public Library – 213 N. 8th Street, Oostburg

Monday, April 15, 2013
5:00 -7:00 p.m.                University of Wisconsin Manitowoc (County Board Room) - 705 Viebahn Street, Manitowoc

Participants will be recognized to speak on a first come first speak basis and individuals attending are asked to keep their initial comments to 3 minutes – additional time will be offered if time allows. I look forward to a respectful and constructive discussion on the state budget that will guide the operation of our state for the next two years.

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC), of which I am a member, has also planned a series of Public Hearings on the budget around the state to allow the members of the committee to get statewide input from Wisconsin residents.

2013-2015 Public Hearings of the Joint Finance Committee

Thursday, April 4, 2013
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.             Greendale High School Auditorium - 5801 Southway, Greendale

Monday, April 8, 2013 
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.             Lambeau Field – Legends Club Room - - 4th Level - 1265 Lombardi Avenue, Green Bay

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.             Kalahari Resort – Suites 2 and 7 (Main Level) - 1305 Kalahari Drive, Wisconsin Dells

Thursday, April 18, 2013
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.            Baldwin-Woodville High School Auditorium - 1000 13th Avenue, Baldwin

If you are unable to attend any of my Input Sessions or the JFC hearings, I encourage you to send your input to me at the contact information below.

For more information on the 2013-15 state budget, citizens may want to check out the following web sites:

State of Wisconsin Department of Administration - Governor’s Budget Page:

Non-Partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s Recent Publications Page:

The Wisconsin Legislature’s electronic bill notification service also allows you to track the progress of the budget bill - Assembly Bill (AB) 40 - in the Legislature. This free service provides individuals with immediate electronic updates on specific legislative proposals. You can access this service and track the progress of a bill by clicking on the following link:

As always, it has been a pleasure communicating with you. Please remember to communicate with me and share your input by calling 888-295-8750, writing to me at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882, or by e-mailing me at  You can also log on to the 9th Senate District on-line office at

It is an honor to work for and represent the residents of the 9th District in the State Senate.


~ Issue Corner ~

Each week, I highlight a hot topic that is being discussed by the legislature. I intend this section to be a window into the informal conversations happening at the state capitol, but will not indicate an endorsement or position on the issue. In addition, I will review and consider all input I receive about the issue, but due to the volume of emails I already receive, you may not receive a direct reply every time you share input.

Senate Bill (SB) 99

** Note – Senator Leibham has not yet taken a position on this bill – the information is provided to inform and seek input.

SB 99 makes a simple change to our current state tax code by adopting a tax benefit for educators. Specifically, this bill provides an income tax deduction for elementary and secondary teachers who use their own funds to purchase classroom supplies. The amount of the deduction is up to $250. Eligible requirements apply to an educator who is a teacher, instructor, counselor, principal, or aide in a public, private, tribal, or charter school for at least 900 hours in the taxable year that the deduction is being claimed. This specific deduction is also available on a federal tax return, with very similar eligibility requirements.

You can view an electronic copy of SB 99 here:

Also, I encourage you to sign up for the legislative notification service so that you can track this proposal as it makes its way through the legislature: 

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