28 results for author: Senator Kathleen Vinehout


HEALTH CARE: STEPS TO THE FUTURE

An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told, for his occupation, the tests were absolutely necessary.He was left with a medical bill costing more than his 2017 income.The top-notch staff at the Department of Health Services (DHS), discovered the man was likely eligible for Medicaid. But the man wasn’t interested.The constituent relations department within DHS has been a godsend over the years, helping me solve many difficult medical cases. I’m very grateful for their ...

CELEBRATING WISCONSIN’S DAIRYLAND

“Do you still milk?” I asked Jim at a recent gathering. “No,” he told me. “My son tells me the most help I can be is to stay out of the way,” he joked. We both agreed that was hard. Dairying gets in your blood.June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites. Reminiscing with an old dairy farmer, you realize the love of cows and farming never really goes away. The smell of newly mowed hay or the glistening dew on the field of newly emerging corn brings back tangible memories. While the body is worn and ...

WILL WISCONSIN CHILDREN RECEIVE AN EQUAL EDUCATION?

Progress with the state budget is at a standoff in the Capitol. Behind closed doors, leaders are talking details and trying to find votes.Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack of agreement on public education. They say no progress can happen until they round up necessary votes for the education portion of the budget. Privately, some GOP lawmakers are also angling to spend money on a big change to business personal property taxes. However, changes to taxes could take away money promised to schools.Education is the largest part of the general fund budget (the portion of our budget paid for with mostly income and sales tax). Local school ...

WHAT CHOICES WOULD YOU MAKE?

In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.Lawmakers are working off a spending plan submitted by the Governor earlier this year. Changes have already been made to his proposal.For example, the budget writing committee removed much of the new money for the University of Wisconsin System. Big spending cuts in the last budget forced, among other things, a reorganization of UW-Extension, which may leave local communities without their own Ag or 4-H agents.This year, the Governor’s budget returned about ...

AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained

Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.A recently released audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) found that “WEDC cannot be certain about the number of jobs actually created or retained as a result of any awards that ended.”By law, WEDC is required to report jobs created or retained. The agency meets the requirement through reports posted on its website. However, auditors found these data inaccurate.“We found that the on-line data in January of 2017 ...

IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN MONEY

Public education in Wisconsin should provide high quality learning for ALL children no matter who they are or where they live,” Eau Claire School Board President Chris Hambuch-Boyle recently told me.Chris and education leaders across the state read with interest details of the Governor’s plan for our next state budget. Governor Walker gave money to a number of new initiatives and reaped the praise of some education leaders.The plan picks and chooses among various proposals advanced over the last few years. Some new programs are funded and some existing programs get more money. The plan is a compromise.However – as with any political ...

Looking Forward to 2017

The turn of the calendar to 2017 brings us hope for better prospects in our public affairs. I am particularly inspired this season for the many who wrote with solutions to problems facing our state.The many letters from readers gives me optimism for a coming bloom of civic mindedness. Certainly your notes and letters bring a fresh approach to lingering problems. I do see signs on the horizon that our state may be stumbling.Deep budget cuts have affected the forward progress of our University of Wisconsin System. Faculty have left UW and taken their research dollars with them. For the first time in 45 years UW Madison does not rank in the ...

FRIDAY NIGHT IN MADISON

It was Friday night at 5:00 pm.Most people were leaving work and looking forward to the weekend. Maybe they headed to see friends and family at the fish fry or watch the prep football playoffs.At that same hour, Senators received details on two very important bills. Legislation that rewrote laws related to elections, campaign finance, lobbying and the ethics of elected officials.Leaders kept details about changes to the bills secret until the last minute. Details we had not seen; the press had not read; no member of the public had an opportunity to provide comment.By 7:00 pm, the Senate debate on the two bills began. Final Senate ...

Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50: Born from Compromise ~ Continuing in Controversy

Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50: Born from Compromise ~ Continuing in ControversyBy Senator Kathleen Vinehout“Whatever you do,” the elderly woman in Gilmanton told me a few years ago, “Keep your government-run hands off my Medicare.”Medicare and Medicaid turned 50 years old on July 30, 2015. After decades of political leaders grappling on the issue of health care, it was in 1965, that then President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.Today we take for granted what was a seminal political accomplishment. Medicare, a federally run program, provides health care for those over 65 through a Social Security payroll tax. Medicaid, a ...

GOVERNOR’S VETOES REMOVE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT

GOVERNOR’S VETOES REMOVE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHTby Wisconsin State Senator Kathleen Vinehout“I object to the infringement on gubernatorial power and duties,” wrote Governor Walker in his veto message. By his budget vetoes he made it clear he did not want legislative oversight.The governor removed at least 15 portions of state law passed by the legislature that provided legislative authority or provided oversight of the executive branch.Remember your 4th grade civics class lessons about the delicate balance of powers between the three branches of government – the governor (and executive agencies,), the legislature, and the judiciary. ...