Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is once again making international headlines, this time for points outlined in today's biennial budget address. You can also read the budget in brief (if you consider 77 pages brief). But here are some of the highlights:
The budget reduces school aid by $834 million over the biennium, a 7.9 percent reduction compared to the base year doubled.
In addition to increasing health care premium contributions and seeking plan design changes in the health insurance program for state employees, the budget repair bill provides flexibility to the Department of Health Services to pursue approaches to constrain health care costs in the state's Medicaid program. The budget assumes savings from these reforms, including increased co-pays and deductibles, consolidation of eligibility determination activities, greater use of managed care, and a comprehensive review of the Family Care program and other steps necessary to bring health care cost inflation in line with our ability to pay.
To provide greater flexibility for school districts to address educational outcomes,
eliminate mandates requiring school districts to: schedule at least 180 school days annually; employ reading specialists; employ only licensed school nurses who have at least a bachelor's degree; prepare detailed indoor environmental quality plans; provide training to staff on administering prescription and nonprescription drugs only if the training is approved by the Department of Public Instruction; and not exceed 200 teaching service days for Milwaukee Public Schools.
Walker's proposed budget would also:
Reduce state aid by $250 million over the biennium to University of Wisconsin System institutions and University of Wisconsin-Madison to help address the state budget deficit. The reduction would be split equally between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin System.
Reduce state aid to technical college districts by $71.6 million over the biennium to help address the state budget deficit. Increases in employee contributions for pension and health insurance will generate savings in excess of this state aid reduction.
Reduce calendar year 2012 county and municipal aid payments by $96 million. Align adjustments in local government aids to the ability of local governments to realize savings on employee compensation to offset any potentially negative impact on municipal and county budgets.
Provide relief to municipalities by reforming regulations for effluent limitations on phosphorous so that Wisconsin's regulations are no more stringent than neighboring states, and repealing and recreating the municipal separate storm sewer systems stormwater standard that requires communities to reduce total suspended solids by 2013, so the standards are no more stringent than federal law and take into account its cost to municipalities.
Increase state employee contributions towards pension and health insurance costs. Employees will generally pay 50 percent of the total required retirement contribution, which for calendar year 2011 equals 5.8 percent of salary. Increase employee contributions for health insurance from approximately 6 percent of the premium to 12.6 percent of the premium. These modifications are necessary to bring state employee compensation in line with private sector employment and reduce compensation costs.
Reduce the percentages of the federal earned income tax credit that can be claimed for Wisconsin in line with national averages while still maintaining a focus on reducing child poverty to realize savings of $41.3 million over the biennium.
Repeal the indexing provisions of the homestead tax credit to realize savings of $8.1 million over the biennium.