New ACA Repeal Plan Expected to Cost Wisconsin $29 Billion by 2036

Friday, September 22, 2017 at 12:50 PM by
The new proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is estimated to reduce federal health care funding for Wisconsin by $29 billion from 2020 through 2036. That’s the conclusion of an analysis released on September 21 by Avalere Health. The Avalere analysis helps illustrate why the new ACA repeal and replace plan, like the ones before it, would result in at least 20 million fewer Americans with health insurance by 2021. And under this plan offered by Senators Graham and Cassidy, the rapid drop in insurance coverage could reach 32 million in 2027, according to a report issued today by the Brookings Institute. The new proposal would make insurance far less affordable for many who now use the subsidized ACA marketplace and would force states to make deep cuts in Medicaid services for children, seniors and people with disabilities.

To Observe Constitution Day, Protect Constitution from Threat of Constitutional Convention

Monday, September 18, 2017 at 10:05 AM by

Sunday, September 17th was Constitution Day, a holiday that recognizes the adoption of the U.S. Constitution and those who have become citizens. This year, Constitution Day marked the 230th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution by delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

The U.S. Constitution has served the country well for more than two centuries, but some Wisconsin state lawmakers want to open the door to wholesale changes to the Constitution, a move that could threaten basic freedoms and liberties.

When the U.S. Constitution has needed amending in the past, Congress and at least three-fourths of the states voted to approve a specific amendment. Now, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and similar groups are pushing an alternate, untested approach to amending the Constitution, which requires two-thirds of state legislatures to approve resolutions calling for a Constitutional Convention. Once that threshold is reached, Congress must convene a Constitutional Convention. Read more

Budget Bill Boosts Property Taxes for Thousands of Low-income Households

Thursday, September 14, 2017 at 2:36 PM by
Despite the claims of state lawmakers that the biennial budget bill cuts property taxes, the actions of those policymakers will increase property taxes for thousands of low-income Wisconsin households. The budget bill does that by significantly reducing funding for the Homestead Tax Credit, which was designed to provide targeted property tax relief to low-income homeowners and renters. A new Wisconsin Budget Project summary of tax changes in the budget bill describes some of the major items, which include more than $400 million of tax cuts. But the bill cuts funding and eligibility for the Homestead Credit, and the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) rejected the Governor’s proposal to increase the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

New Census Data Show Continued Gains from the ACA

Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 6:28 PM by

Insurance Coverage Also Improves in Wisconsin, but More Slowly than in Medicaid Expansion States

The number of Wisconsinites who do not have health insurance fell sharply during the first three years of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to new survey data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 218,000 fewer Wisconsin residents were uninsured last year than in 2013, a decline of 42 percent.

Wisconsin is still among the top ten states in the percentage of people with insurance, but our state’s rank has been slipping. We went from being tied for 7th best in 2015 to a tie for 10th best last year.  In 2016, Kentucky, West Virginia, Connecticut and Rhode Island all surpassed or tied Wisconsin’s rate of insurance coverage. Read more

Unemployment is Low, but Wisconsin Workers Face a Host of Other Roadblocks

Friday, September 1, 2017 at 3:54 PM by

Even as the state’s unemployment rate declines, Wisconsin workers face significant barriers to economic stability, according to a new look at the state’s labor market. Long-term stagnation in wages, a black/white economic disparity that is among the largest of any state, increasing levels of income inequality, a shrinking middle class, and limits on the ability to unionize are among the obstacles faced by Wisconsin workers, according to The State of Working Wisconsin 2017 by COWS.

Key findings of the report include:

Wisconsin has fallen behind in job growth compared to other states. In 2016, Wisconsin had 128.4 jobs for every 100 jobs it had in 1990, compared to 132.6 jobs nationally. That gap is a relatively new occurrence, with the pace of job growth in Wisconsin exceeding the national average for the 1990s and the early part of the 2000s. During the recession, Wisconsin lost jobs at about the same rate as the national average. Read more

Speaker Ryan Would Exacerbate a Problem that He Says Is a Concern

Thursday, August 31, 2017 at 12:56 PM by
Several important public benefit programs provide strong incentives to work, but you wouldn’t know that when you listen to Speaker Paul Ryan talk about those programs. He has been using half-truths to create a very distorted impression of public benefits, as he seeks to advance an agenda that would further shift federal tax and budget policy in favor of the very wealthy, at the expense of low-income households.

Five Reasons the Foxconn Deal Would be Bad for Wisconsin

Monday, August 21, 2017 at 4:44 PM by

Governor Walker has proposed an unprecedented package of businesses incentives aimed at encouraging Foxconn to build a manufacturing facility in southeast Wisconsin. The deal could result in the state paying Foxconn nearly $3 billion in state money over the next 15 years, in exchange for Foxconn spending $10 billion to construct a facility in Wisconsin and creating up to 13,000 jobs.

Here are five reasons why the proposed deal is a poor use of public resources:

1. The state would likely pay Foxconn a lavish $200,000 to $600,000 for each new job, depending on how many jobs are ultimately created.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the Foxconn deal, including the number of jobs that would ultimately be created at the new facility. The agreement between Governor Walker’s administration and Foxconn indicates that the company will create “up to” 13,000 jobs — but that leaves open the possibility that the number could be considerably less than that. Read more

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The Significant Risk of Never Breaking Even on Foxconn Subsidies

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 at 5:35 PM by

When the Legislative Fiscal Bureau wrote last week that it would take until at least 2043 for Wisconsin to break even on the Foxconn subsidies, they were summarizing a Department of Administration analysis that used the “best case” assumptions. Using the same methodology and most of the same assumptions, a new Wisconsin Budget Project analysis calculates that other scenarios within the range described by Foxconn could mean that the cost of the state subsidies would not be recovered until 2050 or 2058.

Of course, the DOA analysis and our alternative scenarios all raise the question of whether we can ever expect to break even on the state’s investment and local costs. As many people have pointed out, tech companies aren’t the most stable employers, and Foxconn’s own record illustrates that point. With that in mind, our new analysis calculates how much Wisconsin would be in the hole if Foxconn pulled out of Wisconsin 25 years from now or, alternatively, if they pull out of Wisconsin in 2034 when the annual subsidy payments would end. Read more

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Lawmakers Seek to Eliminate or Limit Tool that Lets School Districts Save Money

Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 3:44 PM by

A provision included in the proposed state budget would restrict school districts from exceeding their state-imposed budget caps in order to fund money-saving energy efficiency improvements.

Currently, the state sets a limit on how much money each school district can spend through the combination of state aid and property taxes, although voters in a district can override the spending limit by approving a referendum. The hurdle is lower when the district wants to temporarily lift the district’s budget cap to allow for spending on energy efficiency projects that save the school district money: only the approval of the school board is needed. The school board must specify the payback period after which the district is expected to recoup its investment in the upgraded facilities.

Exceeding the budget caps set by the state to fund energy efficiency projects has two advantages for school districts: It enables them to raise the resources needed to make improvements to school buildings, and it saves school districts money in the long run. Read more

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Under Deal, State Could Reward Foxconn for Creating Jobs that Pay Near-Poverty Wages

Thursday, August 10, 2017 at 2:09 PM by

(Update: The version of the bill that was approved by the Assembly on August 17, 2017 subsidizes jobs that pay at least $30,000.)

With the state offering enormous subsidies to lure Foxconn to Wisconsin, lawmakers should at the very minimum build in requirements that the new jobs pay family-supporting wages. But the $3 billion proposed deal could result in the state cutting checks to Foxconn to pay for the creation of new jobs that pay as little as little as $23,000 per year, an income level that would put a family of four below the poverty line.

The deal would give Foxconn up to $1.5 billion of state tax money over 15 years in tax credits to subsidize the creation of new jobs at the facility and up to $1.35 billion in subsidies for the facility itself. The state would pay 17% of the salary of jobs that meet certain standards. Read more