Capitol Update

October 25, 2017Like us on Facebook

This summarizes the final disposition of the 2017-19 biennial budget as affected by Governor Scott Walker's signing and partial vetoes on September 21, 2017.  The summary is limited to issues of greatest interest to the WCC and Catholic groups.  For the most part, it describes the final outcome and does not address how particular budget items or programs evolved through the process.  It also is limited to noting where changes have occurred and generally does not report on programs that remain unchanged from the previous biennium.  Finally this summary does not take into account further statutory changes that may have been enacted through other legislation or may be enacted in the near future.
The 2017-19 budget (2017 Wisconsin Act 59) calls for total expenditures of nearly $76 billion over the biennium. 
Children and Family Aids.   Increases aid to families by $5 million annually starting in 2018; increases foster care rates; and eliminates the "fiscal cliff" by allowing families participating in Wisconsin Shares with incomes above 200 percent of federal poverty level (FPL) to continue receiving subsidies with graduated copayments.
Child Survivors of Sex Trafficking.   Provides $1 million annually for treatment services to sex-trafficked children and grants juvenile courts exclusive original jurisdiction over any child who is a victim of, or at substantial risk of becoming a victim of, child sex trafficking.
Child Welfare Prevention Services.   Provides $3.9 million annually for child welfare prevention services and extends the potential use of funding beyond Milwaukee County.
Runaway and Homeless Youth.   P rovides $100,000 annually to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to create and support programs for runaway and homeless youth.
Fostering Futures: Connections Count.   Provides funds for a grant program that connects vulnerable families with young children to formal and informal community support programs. Total funding would be $360,300 in 2017-18 and $560,300 in 2018-19.
FoodShare Child Support Compliance.   Reinstates the child support requirement for FoodShare (food stamp) eligibility, where a custodial or noncustodial parent must cooperate with efforts to establish paternity and a child support order for the absent parent (unless an individual has good cause for refusing to cooperate).
FSET Extension.   Beginning in April 2019, extends FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) requirements to able-bodied adults with school-age children if not working 80 hours per month.
FoodShare Asset Test.   Recommends implementing a FoodShare eligibility $25,000 household liquid asset test for individuals who are not elderly, blind, or have a disability.
Supporting Parents Supporting Kids.   Expands to five counties the existing demonstration program to provide work supports for low-income noncustodial parents who are unable to pay child support due to unemployment or underemployment.
Elderly and Disabled Transportation Aids.   P rovides a two-percent increase in each year of the biennium for county senior and individuals with disabilities transportation aid.
Expanded Drug Testing.   Expands drug screening, testing, and treatment to new W-2 participants, excluding those in unsubsidized employment and women caring for a newborn or who have an at-risk pregnancy.  No additional funding is provided to W-2 agencies.  If an individual fails to comply or successfully complete treatment, his or her child could receive partial benefit payments through a designated payee for the period of time the parent is ineligible for W-2 (up to 12 months).
Homestead Tax Credit.  Alters eligibility rules causing 11,400 households to lose $7 million in credits during the second year of the budget period (an average of $614 per household), and ends eligibility for those who have no earned income.
Transitional Jobs.   Increases by $1 million each year the Transitional Jobs initiative for four rural counties, which would provide subsidized employment and related services for low-income individuals.
Fast Forward.   Instructs the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to broaden the field of possible grant recipients under the workforce training grant program, Fast Forward.  Allocates $200,000 in 2017-18 to the Milwaukee Development Corporation (MDC) for the purpose of supporting the Building Occupational Skills for Success (BOSS) program, which is designed to provide students with the skills and tools needed to become future business owners.
Homeless Case Management.  Provides $500,000 annually for the DCF to support 10 annual grants of $50,000 to shelter facilities to provide intensive case management services to homeless families.  The Governor vetoed language that would have allowed grants to be awarded to public-private partnerships between local governments, religious organizations, local businesses, and charitable organizations that deliver immediate housing relocation services.
Homeless Employment.   Creates a homelessness employment program with a goal of transitioning participants into permanent employment.  A municipality would receive $75,000 in each year of the biennium, with a $50,000 matching grant requirement, to pilot the program.
Parole Commission Redesign.   Retains statutory language related to the Parole Commission, but decreases its size to a four-member body.
JCI Rates.   Increases daily rates, currently at $292, for juvenile correctional institutions (JCI) to $344 in 2018-19 and $352 in 2019-20.  There is also a $6 per day add-on to the daily rate for juvenile correctional facilities.  Allows the Department of Corrections (DOC) to place individuals under the age of 18 and sentenced in adult court in the JCIs.
Earned Release Program Expansion.   Expands the earned release program at DOC correctional centers.  The Governor vetoed provisions that would have modified the program from a substance abuse treatment program to a rehabilitation program that addresses criminal behavior.  The Governor also vetoed provisions that would have directed the DOC to design an intensive alcohol abuse treatment program that would have provided treatment in conjunction with a work release model.
TAD.   Provides $2 million in one-time funds annually for expansion of the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program and creates $250,000 annually in grant funding for similar programs within counties.
AODA Programming.  Increases the number of positions to provide Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse (AODA) services and treatment to a prison population, which has grown under newly-enacted enhanced penalties for operating-while-intoxicated (OWI) offenses.
Employment Opportunities.   Provides $330,400 annually to expand the Opening Avenues to Reentry Success (OARS) programs.
Trauma-Informed Reentry.   Creates a five-year offender reentry demonstration project that incorporates a trauma-informed approach with traditional reentry programming.  The program targets formerly incarcerated males who are noncustodial parents aged 18 or older and who are returning to certain inner city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
Mental Health Funding.   Recommends providing expenditure and position authority to operate and staff new health services units focusing on mental health at several correctional institutions.

Public School Per Pupil Aid.   Increases public school per-pupil aid to $450 in 2017-18 and $654 in 2018-19, resulting in $505 million in additional aid.  The aid amount for future fiscal years is set at $630 per year.
Parental Choice Program Funding.   Increases funding for the Milwaukee, Racine, and statewide parental choice programs (MPCP, RCPCP, and WPCP) to reflect general per pupil payment increases of $207 in 2017-18.  Based on projected aids payments in the budget, the increased amounts are estimated to be $7,530 for pupils in grades kindergarten through eight; and $8,176 for grades nine through twelve for the 2017-18 school year.
WPCP Income Limit.  Increases the WPCP income limit from 185 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 220 percent of the FPL ($60,460 for a married couple with two children).  Returning program students do not need to provide income verification when applying to a new parental choice program.  Students who were on wait list previously due to a district cap restriction are eligible for the programs and need not wait for grade eligibility.
School Accountability Report.  School accountability reports for high schools will denote: 1) the number and percentage of students who participate in the early college credit program; 2) the number and percentage of students who participate in a youth apprenticeship; 3) the number of community service hours provided by students; 4) the number of AP courses offered at the school and the number of AP credits earned by students; and 5) the number of pupils who earn industry-recognized credentials through a tech program.
Special Needs Scholarship.   Removes program eligibility requirements tied to prior public school attendance or an open enrollment denial.  Beginning in 2018-19, a private school can spend up to 150 percent of the voucher amount, if it submits a financial statement of costs to the DPI.  The funding would be deducted from the student's resident district the following year.  Reimbursement will be at 90 percent for spending over 150 percent of the voucher amount (paid through a state-funded, high-cost special need appropriation).  Schools can opt to maintain the current voucher amount.  Provides summer school funding beginning in 2018.
Transportation Aid.  Provides 100 percent reimbursement for rural school districts that generate High Cost Transportation Aid.  Increases reimbursement rates for pupil transportation from $300 to $365 for 12 plus miles; $4 to $10 for two to five miles in summer school; and $6 to $20 for five plus miles in summer school; for an increase of $92 million over the biennium.
Early College Credit Program.   Modifies the youth options program to create the Early College Credit Program (ECCP).  A high school pupil in a public or private school in the state would be permitted to enroll in a UW System institution, or a private, non-profit institution of higher education, to take one or more nonsectarian courses, for which the pupil may earn high school credit, post-secondary credit, or both.  The costs of the courses, which may include summer course, is shared among the institution of higher education (IHE), the school district (or private school), the state, and in some cases, the pupil's family.  A student must apply by March 1 for the fall semester and by October 1 for the spring semester.  The technical colleges are not part of the ECCP.
Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants.   Provides $9,187,500 annually, beginning in 2018-19 and ending with 2022-23, for grants provided to school boards, independent charter schools, private schools, and tribal schools, for personal electronic computing devices.  Grant monies could only be used to purchase personal electronic computing devices, software for devices, curriculum, or to train professional staff on how to effectively incorporate personal electronic devices into a classroom.  Grants will be equal to $125 per ninth grade pupil (prior year aid membership for public school districts, current year enrollment for all other school types).  A local match equal to the grant is a condition of receiving the grant.  Grants will be prorated if the appropriation is insufficient to support all eligible claims.
Robotics League Participation Grants.   Provides $250,000 annually to continue one-time funding provided in 2016-17, for the robotics league participation grant program, and expands the program to private schools.
School Mental Health.   P rovides $6.5 million to improve and expand school mental health services.
School Mental Health Programs Aid.  Beginning in 2018-19, if a MPCP, RPCP, or WPCP school increased spending from the previous year to hire a social worker, the school will be reimbursed 50 percent of the increased spending amount.
Milwaukee School Improvement Funding.   Beginning in 2018-19, a MPCP, RPCP, and WPCP school located in the Milwaukee Public Schools district, or any district that received an overall accountability report rating of "Fails to Meet Expectations," can apply for a state grant if it submits a school improvement plan to increase math and reading performance.
Teacher Development Program Grant.  A private school may apply for a state grant through the Department of Workforce Development to design and implement a teacher development program with an in-state educator preparation program approved by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).  If a student completes the program, DPI can issue either a teacher's license or permit.  Students are not required to have a bachelor's degree.
Lifetime and Provisional Teacher and Administrator Licenses.  Eliminates expiration dates for current, valid, professional teacher, administrator, and pupil services licenses held by individuals as of the effective date of Act 59 (September 23, 2017).  Requires the DPI to issue a provisional three-year license for new educators, administrators, and pupil services professionals, with a lifetime license granted after the completion of six semesters of successful experience, as certified by the school board where the person works.  Provisional licenses can be renewed if the holder does not complete six semesters of experience within three years.  Requires the DPI to invalidate the lifetime license of an individual who has not been actively employed in a school district for five or more consecutive years.  (The individual could apply for a three-year provisional license.)
Civics Assessment Requirement for High School Graduation.  Increases the score that an individual must achieve on a civics assessment in order to graduate from high school from 60 points to 65 points.
Family Care Funding.  Provides $25 million over the biennium and directs the Department of Health Services (DHS) to work with Family Care managed care organizations and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services to develop an allowable payment mechanism to increase the direct care and services portion of the capitation rates.  This would trigger over $24 million in federal matching funds.
Employment and Training for Childless Adults.  Recommends requiring that childless adult Medicaid recipients participate in job training and employment assistance services, affecting 49,200 adults.  The DHS would need to obtain a federal waiver and no additional funding for training is provided.
MAPP.   Strengthens work requirements for people with disabilities who are enrolled in the Medicaid Purchase Plan (MAPP) program by requiring proof of paid employment, substantial in-kind work, or participation in pre-employment programming and in-kind work.  The budget also increases the medically needy eligibility limit to 100 percent of the FPL and changes the premium methodology for MAPP.  It also provides additional funding and position authority for the Health and Employment and Counseling program.
Home Visiting.   Provides an additional $3.9 million for the Family Foundations Home Visiting (FFHV) program, which seeks to prevent child injuries, abuse, neglect, and maltreatment.
Eligibility Determinations and Cost-Sharing.   R equires the DHS to exclude for certain Medicaid eligibility determinations any assets accumulated in a person's independence account and retirement benefits accumulated from income or employer contributions while receiving state-funded benefits under the Community Options Program (COP), MAPP, and certain other Medicaid programs.
Children's Long-Term Supports.   Provides $14,067,300 in 2017-18 and $25,205,500 in 2018-19 to eliminate the waiting list for long-term supports for approximately 2,200 children with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, or severe emotional disturbances.
Nursing Home Rates.   Increases nursing home reimbursement rates by 2 percent each year.
Personal Care.   Provides a 2 percent annual increase in the personal care provider rate.
Lead Poisoning.   U pdates the definition of lead poisoning or lead exposure in statute from 10 micrograms per deciliter to 5 micrograms per deciliter and increases the Medicaid reimbursement for investigations.
Institute for Mental Disease Exclusion.  Allows Medical Assistance (MA) coverage for services in an institution for mental disease for people age 21 through 64 as permitted under federal law or waiver, if federal financial participation is available.
Clinical Consultations.   Provides reimbursement for clinical mental health consultations under MA for students under age 21.
Audits of Family Planning Services Provided through Certain Providers.   Requires the DHS Office of the Inspector General to conduct an audit of all family planning service reimbursements paid to covered entities under the MA program for the period January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2016, and to conclude the audit no later than June 30, 2019.
Child Psychiatry Consultation Program.   Provides $500,000 annually for the child psychiatry consultation program.
Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments and Rural Critical Care Supplements.  Increases payments for disproportionate share hospitals by about $30 million per year and includes facilities that would be eligible to receive funds, but for the lack of obstetric services.
Dementia Care Specialists.  Increases funding to maintain 19 dementia care specialist positions through June 30, 2018, and 24 positions starting July 1, 2018.
Property Tax Exemption for Bible Camps.   M odifies the existing property tax exemption for bible camps by increasing the acreage limitation from 30 to 40 acres.
Tax Exemption for Church and Religious Association Property.   Modifies the current property tax exemption for property of churches and religious associations by specifying the exemption extends to any property necessary for the location and convenience of a building that the church or religious association intends to construct to replace a building destroyed by fire, natural disaster, or criminal act.
Broadband Access.   Expands funding for broadband access through transfers in funds and statutory changes for the Public Services Commission, Department of Administration's (DOA) Technology for Educational Achievement Program, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Department of Transportation (DOT).
Closed Registration for Domestic Partnerships.   Eliminates the option for Wisconsin residents to register a domestic partnership under Chapter 770 beginning six months after the effective date of the budget.  Health insurance and disability survivorship benefits continue for surviving domestic partners of deceased employees or those with disabilities.

Capitol Update is a periodic e-mail on legislative issues from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
131 W. Wilson St., Suite 1105
Madison, WI 53703