Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Patriots Protect BCS Ranking

Coming into this season, I was a fan of the New England Patriots. I found it fun to watch the cerebral-style of football played by Bill Belichick and his crew. Every week the game plan was new, completely tailored to the weaknesses of the opponent.

While I still enjoy watching those aspects of the Patriots game, the way they've run up the score as if they were playing for a BCS bowl game has been disheartening.

Throwing deep from the shotgun formation while up 38-0 with 13 minutes left to play. Going for it on fourth down while up 45-0 with 7 minutes remaining.

As Yahoo! Sports commentator Andy Behrens noted about Tom Brady accounting for his fifth touchdown of the game mid-way through the 4th quarter, shortly after converting it on fourth down: "They elected not to go for the two-point conversion, which was classy."

The most interesting commentary on this trend, however, comes from EPSN's Gregg Easterbrook, who wonders why so many teams have largely taken the late-game pounding from the Patriots without a fight.

According to Easterbrook:
If it were 38-0 in the fourth quarter and the other side still had its starting quarterback on the field throwing deep, I would have called a double safety blitz and slammed Brady to the ground; Belichick immediately would have taken the starters out, and the mockery of sportsmanship would have ended. After the game, Colvin and other Patriots players said that in the pros, you should play full-tilt no matter how lopsided the score. If that's true, no one from New England could have complained if [Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg] Williams had called an all-out blitz to hammer Brady.
I wouldn't be surprised if defenses start heeding Easterbrook's advice if the Patriots continue their ways down the stretch.

And, heck, let's be honest, Randy Moss is going to catch the ball regardless of whether the safeties are in coverage.


SIDE-NOTE: Also check out Easterbrook's extensive commentary, which is at the beginning of the column cited above, on the NFL Network and the Sunday Ticket option that allows viewers to pick between every game on Sunday. He provides some interesting background info on the tension between the NFL and the cable networks.


Monday, October 29, 2007

What Is and What Isn't Single-Payer

John Torinus took his fifth swing at Healthy Wisconsin in his column yesterday, and the theme of the day was "single-payer."

In his previous four columns (see here, here, here, and here), Torinus used the phrase "single-payer" a total of twice. In his column yesterday, it's used seven times.

The fact is, Healthy Wisconsin isn't single-payer legislation. If the situation is right, there's much to like about single-payer models, as evidenced by the successful state farmer's cooperative, which operates under a single payer. But Healthy Wisconsin just doesn't fall into that category.

The key policy difference between a single-payer model and the consolidated payer model of Healthy Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Health Plan is that the latter allows for payer competition.

In a consolidated payer model, based on the ideas of economist Alain Enthoven, consumers are given a direct choice of health plans. If they opt for the most cost effective plan -- which would need to contract with the most cost effective providers to gain that status -- they pay nothing per month aside from what they pay into the system as a whole through some form of taxes or assessments. If consumers opt for a higher cost plan, on the other hand, they pay the difference between that plan and the lowest cost plan.

This type of competition can't exist in a single-payer model since, obviously, the one payer isn't going to be competing with itself in any meaningful sort of way.

There's no question that Torinus understands all of this -- to be sure, David Riemer explained it to him in a debate the two had back in August -- which makes it both odd and eye-rolling that he would push Healthy Wisconsin as a single-payer system.

But why let the nuances and complexity of health care models get in the way of good ol' rhetoric?

Labels: ,

That Must've Been Some Party

From the Journal Sentinel Business Watch blog (emphasis mine):
The University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Business just announced that Milwaukee native Sheldon Lubar, founder and chairman of Lubar & Co., Inc., became the thirteenth member of the Wisconsin Naming Partnership today, adding a $5 million donation and bringing the total gift to $85 million.

The business school's public relations director Tina Frailey said Lubar was at the Wisconsin football game today with business school dean Michael Knetter just hours after the major gift announcement when he decided to give.
Nothing like dropping $5 million on the spur of the moment. What do they serve in those Camp Randall luxury boxes, anyway?

By the way, Mr. Lubar is officially invited to my house tonight for the Packer game.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Our Superficial Public Policymaking

Considering it stands virtually no chance of going anywhere, State Senator Roger Breske (D-Eland) has received a pretty good amount of press (here and here) for his plan to introduce standalone legislation to bring back the hospital assessment.

In his press release, Breske notes the oddness of including a transfer from the patient compensation fund in the budget but not the hospital assessment that would generate millions more in matching federal dollars than it would cost. It would be interesting if his legislation actually includes a provision to dump the patient fund transfer.

Granted, I don't think dumping the transfer would make the bill any more palatable to the GOP Assembly, which is interesting considering how Republicans have gone after Doyle for segregated fund transfers in the past and how much attention the right has given to medical malpractice suits when it comes to rising health care costs.

To be sure, while the patient fund has had an average annual surplus of $130 million over the past two decades, it's been pointed out that a surplus is necessary to keep premium rates down.

As the Journal Sentinel noted yesterday regarding the patient fund transfer, "pulling $200 million from the fund will mean higher premiums going forward." And, as conservatives love to point out, those types of costs on businesses just get passed along to consumers in the form of higher costs.

Yet, in spite of all of this, the GOP leadership agreed to the patient fund transfer relatively early in the negotiation process -- about a month ago, to be exact -- while absolutely refusing to budge on the hospital assessment that would generate more funds than it would require, leading some health systems to pledge to lower health care costs if it was implemented.

This is the result of the budget process becoming about a final overall figure rather than what makes the most sense for the state.

The hospital assessment fell into the $1.7 billion figure Republicans were denouncing since February, and reducing that amount became the goal, which meant that the hospital assessment had to go, especially if the politically safe cigarette tax was going to be the one big tax that was allowed to stay.

The patient fund transfer, conversely, wasn't part of the $1.7 billion, so it wasn't as big of a problem if it stayed, even if it actually does what Republicans wrongly, for the most part, claimed the hospital assessment would do -- increase health care costs.

It's amazing, and quite sad, that the word "tax" is allowed, without much or any consideration for the actual effect, to have such a hold on public policymaking in the state.


SIDE-NOTE: Just to clarify, I do think the patient fund transfer is a poor public policy choice, but that's separate from the issue of increasing funds for state health care initiatives, which is what the transfer is intended to do. Increasing those funds is a reasonable goal that is worthy of debate, but doing so through a transfer from a segregated fund -- particularly one that isn't funded by public dollars -- is unwise and should be unnecessary.

I don't mean to suggest in this post that it's the job of Republicans to reject a move like the fund transfer -- it shouldn't have been proposed in the first place -- but it is interesting to examine why the transfer wasn't given much or any resistance, while the far more sensible hospital assessment was somehow a deal breaker.

UPDATE: Check out the Recess Supervisor's excellent and interesting take on the Breske bill.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Downplaying and Dramatizing the State Budget

It looks like a budget will be passed today. Estimates are that at least 10-12 of the 52 GOP members of the Assembly will vote for it, which should be more than enough for it to pass, even though it wouldn't surprise me to see Dem Reps. Ziegelbauer and Wasserman vote against it.

In an email to rally the troops, Speaker Huebsch notes the following (emphasis mine):
The [LFB] memo shows that the bipartisan budget agreement increases all funds appropriations 6.6% over the biennium. GPR appropriations increase 6.0%. The increase is not 8%, which has been claimed by the governor and reported in the media.

As a point of reference, the US Department of Commerce recently announced that Wisconsin's per capita personal income grew at 4.6% in 2006. With the growth in all funds spending averaging 3.3% annually, the bipartisan budget agreement appropriates almost 1.3% per year below personal income growth and lives within the taxpayers' means.
Interesting admission considering GOPers typically prefer using inflation as the benchmark for determining "taxpayers' means." According to my math, this new standard of personal income growth means that Doyle's initial budget -- which called for an 8.5 percent increase over the biennium -- also would be within "taxpayers' means."

Who'd of thought that's how Huebsch felt all these months?

Also interesting is the budget coverage in the Journal Sentinel, which cranks up the drama dial in an article on "surprise" fees that made their way into the final budget agreement. Of course, if some consideration was given to services in the article -- a radical thought, to be sure -- the inclusion of the new fee increases might not be such a surprise.

As the JS editorial board astutely noted over the weekend regarding the budget agreement, "questions remain, including how the state will pay for transportation projects that even many Republicans agree are crucial to economic development...."

Ending the automatic gas tax increase last year and axing the oil tax from the budget left a hole in the transportation fund. Fees were a natural place to look to fill it considering how they allow Huebsch & Co. to hide behind the argument that fees go to support "specific services," regardless of the fact that it's a bit of a stretch to claim the actual cost to title a car will truly increase by 86 percent in the coming biennium.

It's beyond me why Huebsch can't just own up to the fact that money is needed for the transportation fund and, call it taxes or call it fees, it's gotta come from somewhere if you want the services.

And while the JS was happy to rile up readers about "surprise" fees on the front page of the main section, those who turned to the front page of the Metro section were treated to an article on how the budget shortchanges local governments, which puts police and fire services at risk.

Is it really too much to ask that the concept of funding and services get put together in the same article on the budget?


Monday, October 22, 2007

"Consumer Driven" Health Care Is More Than High Deductibles & HSAs

The Journal Sentinel is fronting an interesting article today on recommendations for comprehensive health care reform coming out of the Committee for Economic Development (CED), which is a group that includes business leaders from around the country.

The article does a good job of explaining how the CED recommendations reject the notion that the only competition that's needed in the health care market is at the point of care. Instead, due to the existence of third-party payers, the CED backs re-working the market so that insurers are put into direct competition for participants rather than working through the employment system.

As the full CED report explains:
The earlier discussion of CDHPs expressed doubt that consumers could drive health-care efficiency by shopping for lower prices for individual treatments and therapies for serious illnesses. However, consumers could have meaningful influence on the health-care market by shopping in a more deliberate fashion for cost-efficient health-care plans.
The JS astutely recognizes the connections between this proposed model and the Healthy Wisconsin plan pushed by legislative Dems over the summer.

Both proposals involve individuals using a fixed publicly-financed credit to select from a grouping of plan options that vary in price -- individuals would pay the difference if the plan costs more than the credit -- and both employ a payroll-driven funding mechanism (an income tax mechanism similar to the "cash out" option proposed by Sen. Wyden is also listed as an option).

In a fairly obvious attempt at "balance," the article misstates the link between Healthy WI and a "Medicare-for-all" model that's rejected by the CED. While Healthy WI does include a public fee-for-service option, that option is just one of many that consumers could select, and in all likelihood it would be among the most costly -- and therefore least chosen -- of the options.

But, overall, the article did a nice job of pointing out that a good chunk of the national business community recognizes there's more to consumer-driven health care than high deductibles and HSAs, and the government is needed to fundamentally re-work the system to maximize the full competitive potential that's in the multi-layered health care market.

Labels: ,

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rallies and Real Budget Progress

I'm glad the Recess Supervisor wrote this post and the Brawler wrote this post because together they, more or less, cover my thoughts on the dueling rallies held at the Capitol yesterday.

It was unfortunate to see some of the pro-services contingent use profanity in their chants and one-on-one confrontations with the no-tax increase crowd. There's no excuse for that. But while profanity is certainly less civil, it isn't any more ridiculous or unproductive than the "we pay your salaries" line coming from the no-tax increase side.

Yeah, taxes and fees are used to compensate public workers (along with private workers doing business with the public sector), but that compensation doesn't come as a result of public benevolence, it comes because the workers provide a public service. If you don't like paying for the compensation, then call for cuts to the services (and be specific, preferably), don't hang it over the heads of the people who were offered a job to provide those services.

Meanwhile, the real budget news of yesterday is that discussions of a compromise took some small, but important, steps forward.

Assembly Democratic Leader Jim Kreuser said that making HSAs state tax free is on the table if the GOP supports the hospital assessment, while Rep. Phil Montgomery (R-Ashwaubenon) called together a session with Speaker Huebsch and "a handful of Assembly Republicans who want to find middle ground," a meeting that Huebsch, unfortunately, pooh-poohed as "routine."

Based on what took place on the Capitol steps yesterday and in press releases for the past nine months, though, there doesn't seem to be anything that's routine about genuine intra-caucus meetings aimed at seeking out a middle ground.

SIDE-NOTE: "[A] handful of Assembly Republicans who want to find a middle ground"...what are the others out to find?

UPDATE: Looks like Grumps and I are on the same page regarding the "we pay your salaries" line.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

State Budget: What's Next?

As expected, the GOP Assembly shot down the compromise budget. A couple of Dems helped out, including my own representative Sheldon Wasserman.

So, what's next?

According to today's Wisconsin State Journal, "Huebsch said it remains unlikely he could ever accept a hospital tax because he fears it would drive up health-care costs in the long run."

I truly can't figure out the logic behind that claim. But since it doesn't look like Huebsch is going to budge, and the fact is he's the GOP's leader in the Assembly, it's time to start looking at what it would mean to drop the hospital assessment and lower the cigarette tax by 50 cents.

The impact would be on health care initiatives, of course, but the Dems need to ask the LFB for a specific analysis of what would be lost and they need to share that widely with the public.

This may sound trivial, but it would represent a significant shift in the Dem game plan. So far the Dem emphasis appears to be on the effects of not passing a budget. Not a bad line, but it doesn't quite stand up to the "protect the taxpayers" line coming from the GOP.

After all, no budget can be easily framed as a result of the partisan split in the legislature rather than the actions of one particular side of the aisle.

By putting an emphasis on services lost, without abandoning the focus on the need to get a budget passed, the Dems can help remind the public that fiscal policy isn't just a one-sided equation.

Once that view is established, a new budget should be drafted without the hospital assessment and with the lowered cigarette tax. That budget could then go on record as the budget that cut health care initiatives, rather than the one that "protected taxpayers," which is the way the GOP would surely like to frame it.

It's time to get something done, and the Dems have enough votes on the record to demonstrate to voters that they were in favor of passing the health care initiatives but couldn't due to the partisan split in the legislature, which is something that only can be addressed at election time.


Friday, October 12, 2007

The Fight for the Few

It's looking like Speaker Huebsch probably has the votes he needs in the Assembly to shoot down the compromise budget bill, but I'm sure the governor's office is going to be leaning pretty heavily on some Assembly Republicans over the next few days.

The Daily Cardinal highlights Rep. J.A. Hines (R-Oxford) and Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon) as two possible GOP votes for the compromise budget, although it seems likely that the Dems will lose at least one vote in Bob Ziegelbauer (D-Manitowoc). Sheldon Wasserman (D-Milwaukee) is the other Dem who signed a no-tax increase pledge, but he has already indicated a willingness to at least vote for the cigarette tax.

That means the governor would still need to flip 1-2 more Republican votes in addition to Hines and Davis, if those two are, in fact, flippable themselves.

Importantly for the governor, the compromise bill is getting some positive press around the state. By rejecting it, the Assembly Republicans risk getting viewed as obstructionists. To counteract that view, the GOP will scream "taxes!" as loud as possible, and the Dems will counter with the other side of the equation -- i.e., what those taxes will fund -- and the fact that not all taxes are created equal in the public eye.

To be sure, increasing the cigarette tax and imposing a hospital assessment to leverage more federal dollars for Medicaid just isn't the same -- for most people, anyway -- as boosting the income tax or the general sales tax.

At the end of the day, if the compromise bill does go down in the Assembly, it's surely going to energize the fiscal conservative base that'll show up for the Americans for Prosperity rally at the Capitol on Wednesday.

But I'm just not so sure the general public is going to look at it with as much excitement and adoration.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The GOP Tightrope Walk Is Getting Shaky

I just don't understand this position:

Huebsch's offer did not include a hospital tax proposed by Doyle. Democrats had hoped Republicans would go along with it after the Wisconsin Hospital Association dropped its opposition last week.

"The hospital tax is just not on the table," Huebsch said. "It's one where we just don't agree with the policy."

The new tax would generate additional federal aid that would fund increased Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals. They would receive a net increase of $285 million, most of which would go to Milwaukee-area hospitals.

But Huebsch said the proposed hospital tax was "counterintuitive" because it would be passed on to regular people at a time when everyone wants to reduce health care costs.

Huebsch's argument is what's counterintuitive; that is, if you understand how health care costs operate, and I have little doubt Huebsch is privy to the notion of cost-shifting and the hidden health care tax stemming, in part, from poor Medicaid reimbursement levels. And I'm sure he understands that Medicaid works on a matching system with the federal government, so the more the state puts in the more the federal government puts in.

Connecting these dots to see how the hospital assessment will increase overall funding for Medicaid and, as a result, help reduce the hidden health care tax for people with private insurance isn't a complicated or convoluted venture, and it's certainly not counterintuitive.

So what's the deal?

I'd say it's pretty clear something is getting to Huebsch, who took a lot of flak after reports surfaced that he included the $1.25 cigarette tax in an offer a couple of weeks back.

And with the rally organized by Americans for Prosperity just a week away, I don't see Huebsch making any other meaningful proposals toward a compromise budget in the near future; unless, that is, he wants his name to be the one that's screamed alongside Doyle's on the steps of the Capitol.

That's what makes Doyle's call for a special session on Monday, two days before the rally, such a shrewd political move. It clearly pits the two forces in Huebsch's political life -- the general public and the fiscal conservatives with the microphones (figuratively and, next Wednesday, literally) -- against each other.

The call for a special session has already made a media splash, and it will continue to do so through next week, which will raise the public awareness of the budget even more. This forces Huebsch's hand rather than allowing him to bide time in fruitless closed-door negotiations until after the AFP rally.

As the Recess Supervisor points out, the special session effectively neutralizes any momentum the GOP had after passing its piecemeal bills on K-12 funding and shared revenue last month, and it places the spotlight back on the GOP as the side that's holding up a budget compromise.

Assuming, that is, Huebsch doesn't relent and bring the governor's new budget proposal to the Assembly floor on Monday. Although he's indicated he'd abide by the call for a special session, actually bringing the bill to the floor for a vote would risk watching the 47 Dems grab the few Republican votes needed to actually pass it.

And, if that happens, Huebsch better not find himself anywhere near the Capitol building on Wednesday.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How 'Bout Them Cowboys

Not much political to say today, so I'm going to talk fantasy football for a bit.

Intense game last night. I'm not a Cowboys fan, exactly, but I do have Tony Romo and Marion Barber on my fantasy team.

I went into last night's game 14 points down in my weekly match-up, and considering Romo and Barber averaged a combined 42 points per week heading into the game against the 1-3 Bills, I wasn't too worried about it.

By the time I tuned into the game, Romo already had thrown two picks. That surprised me a bit, though I had Romo for part of the season last year, so I know erratic play isn't exactly out of the question. Nevertheless, it was still the first quarter, so I wasn't worried.

Then I proceeded to watch Romo throw his third, fourth, and fifth pick, and lose a fumble. Two of the INTs were returned for touchdowns by the Bills, which actually doesn't matter so much for a fantasy fan.

And therein lies the fundamental difference between a fantasy fan and a team fan. While the team fan wants to see the defender who made the pick dropped immediately, the fantasy fan doesn't lose any more points for a INT that's returned all the way; and, in fact, having it returned for a touchdown means the QB is going to get it back more quickly and probably need to air it out to make up for the opposing score.

This has always made me hesitant as a fantasy fan. Part of the beauty of team sports is the camaraderie that's forged within a team and its fans. As Wisconsinites, we know that camaraderie quite well when it comes to pro football; Packer fans are often heralded as among the most loyal and committed in the sport, and there's certainly a broader social bond that comes along with that.

And while I certainly have camaraderie when talking smack to my friends in the fantasy league, the fantasy mentality itself largely individualizes the sport in a way that works against broader social connections. When I'm cheering, I'm cheering for my players, which isn't something I'm going to have in common with anyone else around me.

But, I tell ya, when Romo threw his second TD of the game in the closing seconds to bring the Cowboys within two and finally give me the points I needed in my fantasy match-up to pull ahead, I bet my arms went up with just as much excitement as Wiggy and Owen displayed at the same time as Cowboy fans.

I just didn't care, at that point, whether they got the two-point conversion.


Friday, October 05, 2007

The New Hospital Assessment Is Much Improved

The big news on the budget this morning is the Wisconsin Hospital Association withdrawing its opposition to the hospital assessment that would be aimed at leveraging federal dollars to help increase the Medicaid reimbursement rates hospitals receive.

The Journal Sentinel covers it here, although the Wisconsin State Journal provides a bit more informative of an article here.

I expressed concern about the hospital assessment when it was initially proposed back in February, and that concern was tied to the fact that the plan relied on federal dollars that aren't the most stable; even a slight regulatory change in how the federal money can be spent could tank the entire equation.

That's what makes this new agreement a really good one. Rather than making the assessment permanent, the budget bill would have it expire after the biennium. This alleviates the concern about relying on federal dollars over the long haul.

At the same time, it does require that another potentially contentious debate take place in two years over where to get the money to continue the increased reimbursement rates. And considering the new agreement calls for a fixed assessment rather than a percentage tax on hospital revenue, it's almost certain that more money will be required to sustain the same reimbursement level as health care costs continue to rise.

Of course, a big piece of the puzzle that's still missing is GOP support. According to the WSJ, Speaker Huebsch declined to comment on the new plan yesterday.

An aide to Rep. Steve Nass -- who doesn't have a position in the GOP leadership -- did, however, express opposition to the new assessment plan and display a general lack of understanding about how health care costs operate. According to the aide, the new agreement "doesn't change the equation in that the assessment is still going to be paid by anyone who goes to those hospitals."

Actually, the assessment would very much change the equation, which right now has everything to do with the fact that a significant chunk of health care costs are derived from cost-shifting. Part of that cost-shifting is as result of the uninsured, and part of it is a result of low Medicaid reimbursement rates (Medicare rates are low, too, but not as low as Medicaid).

Here's a chart (page 13) that helps to explain the situation:

(Click for larger view.)

By increasing the reimbursement rates for Medicaid patients, the hospital assessment would be able to pull down the rates paid by the privately insured. In fact, Children's Hospital -- which treats a large number of Medicaid patients as the only pediatric hospital in the Milwaukee area -- has already pledged to decrease health care costs for patients with private insurance if the assessment passes.

Of course, not every hospital would come out in the black. According to the WSJ article:
There would still be winners and losers under the plan, with about 50 Wisconsin hospitals receiving more money under the plan, 23 receiving less, and 72 remaining unaffected, according to figures provided by the Doyle administration. [WHA spokesperson Eric] Borgerding said the number of losers was actually lower, however, since about half of the losing hospitals were part of a hospital network that was an overall winner under the plan.
It's important to note, however, that even those 10-12 hospitals who would see a loss have the advantage of serving a smaller percentage of Medicaid patients, which means their privately insured patients aren't faced with the same cost-shifting that other privately insured patients face.

In other words, there are winners and losers involved in doing nothing, too.

In the end, if Huebsch and the rest of the GOP leadership do still oppose the assessment plan now that even the WHA has stepped out of the way, it'd be really interesting to see the justification. With the practical concerns absent from this new agreement, as evidenced by the WHA removing its opposition, any arguments remaining would have little to stand on aside from ideological purity.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Walker Already Spinning Tall Tales About Taylor

Lena Taylor's campaign wasn't even officially off the ground when the Scott Walker campaign volleyed over its first tall tale.

Monday brought the second "Walker Weekly" in a row to my Inbox that claimed Taylor, as a member of the JFC, "voted against a compromise put together by Mayor Tom Barrett to protect Milwaukee taxpayers."

It continues: "Several media accounts contend that she voted against the Milwaukee position because of pressure from Finance Committee Chairman Russ Decker. In the end, her vote will cost local taxpayers nearly $28 million."

The Walker newsletter is referring to a plan to fix the funding flaw that exists as part of the school voucher program and results in Milwaukee residents paying more for a student to go to a voucher school than a MPS school.

The only trouble is, Walker's telling of the events is wrong on more than one count.

For starters, there was no JFC vote on Barrett's plan. The motion to consider it was never made.

That leads to the second error in Walker's claims, which is that media accounts identified Rep. Pedro Colon as the legislator who was pressured by Decker to avoid making the motion to consider Barrett's plan. Lena Taylor isn't mentioned once, at least by the JS (and I couldn't find another major outlet that covered it).

The third problem with Walker's claims is that a funding fix for the voucher program was passed by the JFC with Taylor's support. It wasn't the fix that Barrett asked for this past summer -- which would've applied to all voucher students, not just new ones -- but it would save Milwaukee taxpayers millions if it made it into the final budget.

And considering every GOP legislator on the JFC voted against the fix that passed, perhaps Walker should aim his apparent disgust at them.

Bottom line, Taylor has been focused on fixing the funding issue to protect Milwaukee taxpayers since the voucher cap was increased back in February 2006.

Has Walker ever taken the same position publicly?


Side-Note: It's worth mentioning that the Senate's version of the budget did away with the JFC fix in exchange for a new appropriation that would provide increased aid for high poverty districts like MPS. Specifically written into the legislation is a provision (pages 18-19) that allows MPS to use this appropriation, outside of revenue limits, to offset the reduction in aid that results from the voucher program.

The Assembly budget just axed the fix with no other provisions to compensate the loss.

And neither the funding fix nor the new appropriation for high poverty districts were included in the piecemeal bill passed by the Assembly a couple of weeks ago, which supposedly gave the Dems "everything they wanted" on K-12 education.

Labels: ,