Just halfway through the first month of the year, and Wisconsin politics in 2019 are already starting to heat up.
Democratic Governor Tony Evers said today he’d propose accepting federal medicaid expansion dollars, even as he was met with resistance from top Republicans, who still hold majorities in both chambers of the Legislature.
Also today, Democrats at the Capitol laid out their key priorities for this year.
Governor Tony Evers told reporters after a closed meeting with Republican lawmakers today that he told Republicans he planned to include accepting federal medicaid expansion dollars in his budget proposal.
“It’s an important part of our program and we will respectfully submit that as part of our budget and fight for it,” Evers said. He added that he and other Democrats, “feels very confident that we will win that fight.”
But Republicans remain opposed to the expansion. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says accepting that money is a quote “non-starter” for Republicans in the Legislature. “My preference would be that we work off Governor Evers budget, but make sure if you have huge parts of it that we fundamentally disagree with, it’s going to make it an awful lot harder.”
The legislative fiscal bureau says accepting the federal medicaid expansion dollars would mean about 75,000 more people in the state would be covered by medicaid.
Democrats in the state Assembly also laid out their priorities for this year today. One of those priorities is redistricting. This comes after an election in which Democrats took home all the statewide races, but Republicans maintained majorities in both the Senate and Assembly.
Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay says the state needs to develop a nonpartisan process for drawing electoral maps. Republicans drew the maps without Democratic input after the last census in 2010. After the next census in 2020, it’ll be time to redraw the maps.
Hansen said, “Now is the time to guarantee that no party will have the power to rig the legislative elections like we’ve seen the last eight years.”
Campaign finance is also on Democrats’ legislative agenda this year. Representative Melissa Sargent of Madison plans to introduce a bill that would put limits on contributions from individuals, campaign committees and political parties. “My friends and neighbors from across Wisconsin know that their voices are being drowned out by the constant flood of money into our political campaigns. It is time to restore integrity to our democracy by limiting the influence of special interest money into our government.”
Democrats also plan to propose amendments to the state constitution. One would forbid lawmakers from changing powers of any branch of government between a fall election and the January inauguration as Republicans did at the end of last year.
Two other amendments would put state open records laws into the constitution and make them apply to the Legislature.
All those amendments would need the approval of the Republican controlled legislature.