Seth Boffeli, Department of Health Services, (608) 266-5862
Patrick Gasper, Department of Public Instruction, (608) 266-3559
SENATE VOTE COULD SAVE WISCONSIN JOBS
State Would Receive $365 Million to Prevent Teacher
Layoffs, Preserve Health Care Coverage
MADISON—On the heels of a mixed economic report
that showed the economy growing at a slower rate in the last quarter than
expected, the U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote Monday evening on a
compromise proposal to extend an enhanced Medicaid matching rate to the
states, as well as create an “education jobs” fund to prevent teacher
and school support personnel layoffs. The State Budget Office estimates
the legislation would result in a total of $365 million to Wisconsin over
the next year. A key sticking point in negotiations has been concern over
adding to the federal deficit, so this proposal pays for the entire cost
through cuts in other programs and the closing of tax loopholes.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers and Department of
Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake held a conference call on
Sunday to draw attention to the critical Senate vote scheduled for Monday
"We appreciate the way Senators Kohl and Feingold stepped up last
year to help us prevent the worst. But we are not yet in the clear.
Additional help still is required to avoid devastating cuts to our schools
and health care safety net," Evers said.
"The Great Recession has been longer and deeper than anyone
anticipated and the spike in unemployment has resulted in much greater
need for health care assistance. Without this aid, Wisconsin faces $647
million in cuts to Medicaid, something that would devastate thousands of
families just getting back on their feet," Timberlake said.
According to a study by the University of Washington, even though
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act prevented an education catastrophe,
87,019 K-12 jobs nationwide were eliminated this past school year.
Overall, since August 2008, state and local governments have eliminated
242,000 jobs. Up to 400,000 workers could lose jobs in the next year as
states, counties and cities grapple with lower revenue and less federal
funding, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com and
former advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Schools are facing as many as 300,000 layoffs of teachers, counselors,
school nurses, and other critical staff. Milwaukee Public School
administrators have laid off 393 teachers from the state's largest
district. Economists across the political spectrum have urged Congress to
pass this legislation and agree that this is important to keeping our
nation’s tenuous economic recovery from faltering. Additionally, funds
for this fully paid-for bill will help ease state and local budget
shortfalls without adding a penny to the national deficit.
# # #
Last Revised: August 02, 2010