ALTOONA (WQOW) - The Wisconsin state budget is now in Governor Evers' hands.
Wednesday night, in a 23-9 vote, the Wisconsin Senate passed the $87.5 biennial budget.
Thursday, local GOP leaders met at Grace Lutheran Nursing Home to call for Evers' backing of the two-year spending plan.
The nursing home was not chosen by chance. Grace Lutheran normally staffs about 200 certified nursing assistants, dietary staff and housekeepers. But since the pandemic, they've seen a severe staffing shortage, reporting a drop by about 40%.
According to the CEO of Grace Lutheran, Amy Duhr, 42, nursing homes have closed in Wisconsin since 2016.
GOP officials said that's why they're investing more than $1 billion into Wisconsin's skilled nursing, assisted living and rehab facilities.
"We're investing in those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, our long-term care facilities and their workers," said Rep.Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser). "Investing nearly $440 million in Wisconsin's long term care facilities, with over $250 million that goes towards nursing home reimbursement and another $404 million that's invested in our direct care workers."
The budget now goes to Gov. Evers who can sign it, veto it, re-write or add individual provisions to the document.
Gov. Evers has six days, excluding Sunday, to take action or it will become law.
Issued statements from local representatives regarding the budget:
“The next two years are critical for Wisconsin to bounce back from the pandemic – this budget is a start in our recovery, but it can’t be the end. This budget has funding for schools – but we can do better. This budget has funding for health care – but we can do better. This budget has funding for broadband, roads, stewardship and tax relief – but we can do better. The Republican Majority rejected the People’s Budget and refused amendments to fix their mistakes. The people of Wisconsin are expecting more – and we can do more...The budget introduced by Gov. Evers reflected these priorities, and I know he’ll do what he can with his veto pen to better meet the needs of Wisconsinites.”Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick): Voted in favor.
“Included in the budget is a $15 million grant to expand psychiatric and mental health beds in Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire – a top priority of mine for years,” continued Sen. Bernier. “We also gave a 12% funding increase to nursing homes, a 40% rate increase to dentists serving lowincome individuals and families, tens of millions in increased funding for direct care and personal care workers, a massive investment in child care, and $100 million for local road improvements over and above a 2% increase to general transportation aid each year...I was proud to join my colleagues in the Legislature in voting ‘yes’ and sending it to the Governor’s desk – now I urge him to sign it without vetoes and without delay."Sen. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls): Voted in favor.
"...Wisconsin has an almost once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in necessary programs and projects across the state like education, criminal justice reform, broadband, and many others while still returning money back to Wisconsin taxpayers. These proposed permanent tax cuts by the Republicans are short sighted and will cause future harm to our state and its people. These tax cuts are based on a budget revenue estimate increase that is attributed largely to one-time COVID-related direct financial support to businesses and individuals from the federal government. Rest assured, I along with my Democratic colleagues are committed to ensuring our state’s policies and budget reflect the long-term needs of Wisconsin."Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire): Voted in opposition.
"After months of works, we were able to put together a budget that benefits the people of Wisconsin: tax cuts that put money back into the pockets of hard working Wisconsinites, historic state school aid funding, investments in our infrastructure and roads, and so much more! These are the issues that residents of the 68th Assembly District cared about. From the budget surveys that were returned to my office, I was able to find out what legislative priorities you all had for this year's budget and fight for those issues."Rep. Jesse James (R-Altoona): Voted in favor.