Turnout was very heavy at the JFC Budget Hearing in River Falls on Monday. The general tone of this hearing was very different than the hearings during the Walker administration, as almost all of the testimony this time around was in favor of the Evers budget, which is much more liberal in its spending plans.

Recent JFC hearings were very stacked toward testimony from businesses and conservative organizations, who were gernally silent at this hearing. Testimony was almost all in support of Evers budget plan, and particularly involved

  • Strong support for accepting the federal support for Medicaid. Despite continued resistance from the conservative members of the state legislature, this testimony, and recent polls show strong support for accepting the federal dollars. Despite this and studies showing the financial advantages of the Medicaid expansion, Robin Vos recently stated "Sometimes you have to lead by what you believe in".
  • Requests to revamp the criminal justice system in the state. Wisconsin incarcerates twice as many people as our neighboring state Minnesota, most of them for drug offenses that would likely be handled in other ways in other states. In particular, there were strong and personal calls in the testimony for allocating more funds to drug courts in the state and against arbitrary cancellation of parole in drug cases. 
  • Strong cases were made for the increases in education funding in Wisconsin that are included in the Evers budget. The past administration brought along drastic cuts in education funding in the state, and Wisconsin is now in many ways behind other states. In particular, requests were made for increases in aid for special needs students ($600 million dollars), students learning English (in which Wisconsin is last in the country), and for a cap on voucher and private school support.
  • University administration and staff called for support for expansion projects at the University campuses, many of which have been needed for years. This includes the $113 million for a Science and Technology Center at UW River Falls, which would replace multiple buildings dating back to the 60's and 70's. Recently the Republicans in the state legislature rejected every building request for the University system as they are clearly determined to reject the Governor's budget and build their own out of whole cloth. 
  • Health Care - many testified on the needs for other forms of health care in the state besides the Medicare expansion. Concerns were voiced about the lack of skilled nurses, particularly in rural parts of the state, 

We thank Wisconsin Eye for the video of the news conference held before the testimony, and include our own video from the morning testimony at the hearing. 

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Consortium, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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Author Credit

Wisconsin Eye for the press conference video.

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