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Wisconsin Democrats put coronavirus at top of legislative to-do list


The budget, their long hoped-for Medicaid expansion, and just about everything else will be tied to the virus.

(The Center Square) – Almost everything Wisconsin Democrats are hoping to accomplish this spring is tied to the coronavirus. 

For legislative Democrats, that all comes down to the coronavirus. 

“At this critical point in our state’s history, we must get to work to ensure people have access to the support they need to get through the pandemic,” Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, told reporters in a pre-session news conference Monday. “Every legislative session we are sent here to take on the biggest issue of the state. We don’t get to choose the issues. The challenges facing the state are the ones that really require legislators act seriously.”

“We need to make protecting the health and safety of Wisconsin families and economic recovery a priority,” Rodriguez said. 

Rep. Sara Rodriguez, D-Madison, said Democrats will champion their own coronavirus relief effort. 

But the so-called “Healthcare for Heroes” aspect of the Democrats’ coronavirus relief plan is actually part of their old proposal to expand Medicaid in the state. 

The Democrats’ plan is almost identical to Gov. Evers’ proposal, with the addition of hazard pay and guaranteed paid sick time for health care workers. 

Wisconsin lawmakers will craft a new state budget this spring, and Democrats are looking at that through the lens of coronavirus as well. 

“There are many reasons to expand Medicaid, and there are many reasons to expand Medicaid during the pandemic,” Hintz explained. “But in this case it gives us the opportunity to utilize some of the $300 million in annual savings by taking the expansion and making sure we are covering the new costs associated with hazard pay and other pay coverage.”

Hintz once again held-out hope that the federal government will provide a bailout to the states, including Wisconsin. 

“We are at a time where, while our revenues held-up better than some previous estimates, we will be waiting for the January revenue estimate from the Fiscal Bureau to set the table for the remaining six months of this [state budget] and what we can expect for the next [state budget].”

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission