Joel Brennan, Secretary-designee of Wisconsin's Department of Administration, spoke to the Chamber's July 19 Eggs & Issues breakfast about the Evers Administration's plans to implement the newly-enacted state budget.
Transportation, Administration Secretaries Highlight State Budget At Chamber Eggs & Issues Breakfast
During the Q&A period at the end, Brennan was asked about the Governor's partial veto of an appropriation for regional mental health beds at hospitals in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls, included in the legislature's version of the budget so patients wouldn't need to be taken across the state for treatment. Brennan said he was not fully aware of the reasons, although he reiterated the Governor's proposal to accept federal Medicaid dollars, which he maintained would help solve similar issues. Moderator Scott Rogers asked Brennan if he would follow up to get a response from the Evers administration regarding the question.
In a July 26 e-mail, Secretary Brennan wrote this follow up:
"I appreciated being part of the breakfast last week and enjoyed my time in Eau Claire. I look forward to being there again soon and continuing to work with local leaders to keep the community and the region moving forward.
You sent a follow up note regarding the proposal to create bonding for a Northern Wisconsin Regional Crisis Center. Below is the language from the Governor’s veto message on this matter.
This provision creates a grant program to a nonstate organization for the establishment of a northern Wisconsin regional crisis center. The Building Commission may authorize up to $15,000,000 in general fund supported borrowing for this purpose. Prior to issuing a grant, the Building Commission must first determine that the project is in the public interest and serves one or more public purposes that are statewide responsibilities of statewide dimension.
I am partially vetoing this provision because I object to this project not following the normal enumeration process that has been established by the Building Commission. Under this partial veto, the Building Commission may award up to $15,000,000 in general fund supported borrowing for a center. I am directing that this funding be used to support the expansion of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center by the Department of Health Services and plan to bring such a motion before the Building Commission to move this project forward. This will ensure that the state is able to provide appropriate mental health treatment for youth.
As I mentioned at the breakfast, this action was directly related to the previous legislative action mandating the closure of Lincoln Hills and other actions by the legislature that limited funds for facilities needed to replace Lincoln Hills.
In addition, as I mentioned, the Governor’s proposed budget, which included an expansion of the Medicaid to cover individuals between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level, included nearly $40 million in funding to create up to five regional crisis stabilization centers around the state. That provision was removed by the legislature during the budget deliberations. As we discussed over breakfast, Governor Evers is acutely aware of the strain that the current system places on local law enforcement who are often forced to travel several hours to get people the care they need. The expansion of Medicaid would have covered an additional 82,000 state residents, saved the state more than $324 million and enabled the state to leverage more than $1.5 billion additional federal dollars for use on important projects like these regional crisis centers. We will continue to work on the expansion of Medicaid that has occurred in more than 35 other states because it will provide better coverage and enable us to make investments that will enhance the health of residents in the Eau Claire region and across the state. We would welcome the support of the Chamber in those efforts.
Thanks again for having me last week."
JOEL BRENNAN | Secretary
Department of Administration
E-mail dated July 26, 2019
Eau Claire Chamber
The Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,200 members.