Thursday, June 23, 2011

The True Human Cost of Gov Walker's Budget and Family Care

The Winnebago County Human Services Board just finished the initial budget review for 2012. The freeze in Family Care participation for the biennium will cause real pain for the elderly and developmentally disabled in Winnebago County.

Winnebago County currently has about 1200 Winnebago County residents in Family Care. This level has been frozen for the next 2 years in the Governors budget as of July 1. We currently have a waiting list for services with 306 residents qualifying and in need of assistance.

26 people needing services to survive are added to the waiting list monthly. These are low income people that are part of the growing generation of senior citizens, developmentally disabled children who have turned 18 and need to begin to utilize services as an adult or who have become disabled.

At the same time, 9 residents are removed from Family Care services due to "attrition" and an average of 3 residents are removed from the waiting list due to "attrition" monthly.

What does "attrition" really mean?

"Attrition" is death. On average, 91% of all Winnebago County residents who leave either the Family Care service or waiting list, do so because of their death. When Family Care was sold to counties, it was to remove waiting lists.

Winnebago County was supposed to be at zero waiting list next year (we were at near zero when we established Family Care, the current waiting list is an aberration).

This is the true cost of Gov Scott Walker's and the GOP legislature's budget. If you add the numbers above together, Gov Walker's budget will result in the deaths of 66 people as they wait for service. Our waiting list (those surviving) will more than double, from 320 to 642 vulnerable, poor Winnebago County residents waiting for services they qualify for and need to survive.

As it is outlined in the WI Legislative Fiscal Bureau's May 24th report:
It is the administration's intent that any program openings created through natural attrition and disenrollment may be filled by new enrollees.
As for who is covered by Family Care? Sauk County Social Worker Jim Pritzkow said it well here:
About half are frail elderly with the remaining 50 percent split between people with physical disabilities and those with developmental disabilities.
They must also qualify due to income. So on top of being a frail senior citizen or someone with physical or developmental disabilities, they must also be poor, very poor.

These are the people who will suffer, wait and die due to the budget that was passed. This is the true cost of Gov Walker's budget in Winnebago County, and across Wisconsin.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Let's All Make New Friends"
at this year's

Sunday, June 12, noon to 4 p.m.
Abe Rochlin Park
(corner of Oshkosh Avenue and Sawyer Street
co-sponsored by:
Oshkosh Area Community Foundation
Oshkosh Baha'i Community
Division of Academic Support - UW Oshkosh
Multicultural Center at UW Oshkosh
Oshkosh Diversity Council

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Statement at the We Are Wisconsin Press Event Today

In Febuary 2011, Gov Scott Walker dropped a bomb on WI Citizens and taxpayers.  The “Budget Repair Bill” took money, services and rights from middle class and working families, students, children, City and County Services, Bus Lines, the elderly, the disabled, and the environment.

These groups, when you add them together make up the vast majority of Oshkosh, Winnebago County and the Great State of WI.

This package of bills in the initial ‘special session’ of the WI Legislature not only removed these rights, funds and services from those who most need and deserve them, but the series of bills turned many of these funds over the wealthiest and least needing of these funds. 
Gov. Scott Walker did not do this alone; he had a well-placed ally in the WI State Senate and on the powerful joint finance committee - Senator Randy Hopper. 

But, I would like to clear the air.  Many people have since said that Senator Randy Hopper was following Gov. Scott Walker without question – going along with marching orders from his party and his Governor.  I disagree, I do not think that was what Senator Hopper was ‘going along’.

Senator Hopper was leading the way on these family and job destroying policies.  He was a co-sponsor or author of many of them.

Now, as Scott Walker’s anti-WI, anti-poor, anti-family, anti-worker, anti-job budget is released from Sen Hopper’s Joint Finance Committee, it is no longer Gov Walker’s budget, It is Senator Randy Hopper’s Budget.

Randy Hopper supported most of the anti-WI Family, Student, and Community provisions in the budget, and made several of them worse.

He has also introduced legislation and budget amendments gutting the State of WI’s ability to collect revenue funding services for City Busses, plowing, garbage collection, County Human Services for the frail elderly, vulnerable disabled and birth to 3 development programs, to name a few. 

His attack on worker and family rights to make a decent middle class living will not only harm those workers and families, but as I stand here on the gateway to the revitalized Oshkosh Main St, I am reminded that everyone of these families, elderly, disabled individuals and students are their customers.  The shock to Oshkosh’s economy when the city can no longer afford to run the busses that bring their customers here, and if they get here, these customers will no longer have the funds to shop at their places of business.

You see, this is where jobs are created in the markets and by everyday consumers.  By limiting funds to cities and counties, the services we provide to encourage local business will stop.  By cutting pay and protections of state workers, we not only lose the money they spend in the local economy, but the comparables that are used for pay in the private sector locally.  The pay scale of a professional working in the Bank Building across the street is directly affected by the pay of professionals at the university.

When Rany Hopper cut the Homestead Credit for people who earn less than $24,500 a year and the Earned Income Tax Credit – a $20 million dollar tax increase on working families he denies Oshkosh business the local funds that many families spend here on Main St, Oregon St, the frontage roads and throughout our local economy.  These are jobs, revenues for schools and security for our citizens that Randy Hopper has shipped away.

I will end my remarks with the statement I made to Sen Hopper’s Committee on Joint Finance at the Neenah hearing: “The budget is a moral statement.” Sen Randy Hopper has decided it is moral to balance the budget at the expense of the vulnerable, students, city and county services and all, public and private who go to work every day hoping their sweat, time, talent and knowledge will create a better future for their families and communities. 

Those are not Oshkosh Morals.  Those are not Winnebago County Values.

And that is not the WI Heritage I learned.