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Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig

Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig

Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St., Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53204.

Biggest Missed Election Story: Outsourcing Loopholes Never Fixed

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 31 October 2014
in Wisconsin

scott_walkerBig Corporate For Profit Media Missed “Bait and Switch”, Outsourcing Safeguards Were Never Implemented as Walker Administration Announced But Did not Implement WEDC Outsourcing Prohibitions.


STATEWIDE - In July the outsourcing issue dominated the Governor’s race, generating wall-to-wall news coverage, and some excellent reporting on the use of public money to support outsourcing companies by Governor Walker’s jobs agency, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

But when both candidates seemed to take strong positions against public job creation dollars going to companies engaged in outsourcing Wisconsin jobs, and WEDC seemed to enact safeguards, the issue vanished from the Governor’s race. This disappearance was so complete that it did not even come up in the two debates.

An analysis of the public record by Citizen Action of Wisconsin reveals that the strong protections announced in the media against providing state job creation grants, loans, and tax credits to firms engaged in outsourcing jobs were never implemented.

In addition, even the safeguards that were announced in the media and not implemented do not effectively prevent huge state tax breaks from going to outsourcing companies. Shockingly, Wisconsin tax policies enacted by Governor Walker and the Legislature actually could allow companies to claim large tax credits for some of the costs of outsourcing Wisconsin jobs.

“It is stunning as we witness an eleventh hour media frenzy over pseudo stories that have no impact public policy that the media is missing one of the biggest and most impactful stories of this election,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It is scandalous that voters are in danger of going to the polls knowing all about various fake campaign stories and no knowledge that state policy still allows their tax money to go to corporations engaged in outsourcing their jobs, and even could allow corporations to write off some of the expense of outsourcing.”

Walker Administration Announced But Did not Implement WEDC Outsourcing Prohibitions

In July, as a result of an intense debate about which candidate would take effective action to deter companies receiving state job creation grants, loans, and tax credits from outsourcing jobs, the Walker Administration announced in the media a number of changes in state policy designed to prevent companies which receive state aid from outsourcing Wisconsin jobs. It was announced and reported in the media that a series of reforms, championed by Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), were discussed at the July WEDC meeting and would be implemented at the next meeting.

A Citizen Action of Wisconsin analysis of WEDC Board Minutes and publicly available records finds no evidence that strong policies announced to the media were ever put in place. Instead, the policies implemented were so watered down that is still perfectly legal to provide state funding to corporations engaged in outsourcing.

There were only two changes Citizen Action could locate in the public records. First, there is now 30 days notice required for layoffs by companies receiving WEDC grants, loans, and tax credits.  Second, new WEDC contracts will require that state funds are not directly spent on outsourcing.  Given that WEDC funds large corporation such as Ashley Furniture have every ability to use non-state resources to outsource, it seems to be still perfectly legal for companies receiving state dollars to outsource jobs, and to cancel out the jobs public money is paying them to create.

Other much stronger measures reported in the media seem never to have been implemented.

One measure prominently reported as having been adopted by WEDC would have suspended funding for outsourcing companies until an equal number of jobs in Wisconsin are created.  As WKOW TV 27 reported: “companies who accept awards, then later reduce their net number of jobs in Wisconsin, cannot get any more actual money until they get their workforce back to where it was when the award was originally given out”. However,  This provision is not at all mentioned in WEDC board’s minutes or committee minutes, WEDC’s website, or in any subsequent board agendas. At the request of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, legislative staff made numerous requests to clarify the status of this policy with WEDC’s counsel, and to provide in writing the actual policies adopted by WEDC, but received no response.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on July 29th that: “Gov. Scott Walker on Monday backed a proposal by Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca to block state money and incentives from going to companies that shift jobs overseas.” The article goes onto state that the policy was discussed at the July WEDC board meeting and would be passed at the next meeting. Citizen Action’s review of public records, including WEDC minutes, finds no evidence this broad policy against giving state dollars to companies engaged in outsourcing was ever enacted. WEDC counsel has not responded to legislative requests for information on this policy.

Manufacturer's tax Credit an Even Bigger Outsourcing Loophole

Although the media has focused on WEDC’s connection to outsourcing, Governor Walker’s signature tax policy, the Manufacturer’s and Agricultural Tax Credit not only allows outsourcing companies to get massive tax credits, but even could allow them to write off some of the cost of outsourcing on their state taxes. The size of the tax credit is greater than WEDC funding for manufacturing. According to the Wisconsin Budget Project, it will add up to $874 million in tax credits over ten years.

The Manufacturer's tax credit represents a larger potential public support for outsourcing than WEDC grants, loans, and tax credits. The credit is available to those with manufacturing or agricultural property, but is not based on the size of the workforce. Because Wisconsin's corporate income tax is based on the sales a company has within the state, a company can still lay off or outsource large segments of its workforce and continue to be eligible for a sizable tax credit so long as it owns even one piece of property for manufacturing purposes. Recipients of this credit have no additional requirement to report outsourcing, and are not deemed ineligible for the tax credit if they outsource.

Although this massive tax credit is a major threat to Wisconsin workers, there has been no discussion during the Governor’s race about attaching job creation requirements to the credit or withdrawing it from corporations that outsource Wisconsin jobs.

“The Walker Administration's bait and switch on outsourcing is the biggest unreported story of this election,” said Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Even the best informed voters are being left entirely unaware that it is still perfectly legal for a company like Ashley Furniture to outsource large segments of its Wisconsin workforce and claim  substantial job creation grants, loans, and tax credits while doing so. It could even be legal for them to write off some of the cost of outsourcing.”

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Large Health Insurer Getting Over $12 Million from Walker BadgerCare Decision

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 17 October 2014
in Wisconsin

anthem-blue-cross-wiSTATEWIDE - According to an analysis by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin, part of the nation’s largest for-profit health insurance company, will make an estimated $12,785,484 in additional revenue each year because Governor Walker rejected enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

On a media call earlier this week Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released evidence of a relationship between large insurance industry campaign donations to Scott Walker and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. The data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare and has made major large campaign contributions to Governor Walker and leading Legislators.

scott-walkerThe estimate of additional revenue for Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross is based on their market share in the new federal marketplace in Wisconsin, enrollment numbers for former BadgerCare recipients, and the average tax subsidy that each new enrollee will receive from the federal government. It does not include additional premiums paid by individual health insurance consumers.

Lobbying records from the Government Accountability Board show that Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross lobbied for 159 hours on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding. It also lobbied for 238 hours on implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which could have included expanded BadgerCare eligibility. According to records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, executives from the company and its subsidiaries donated at least $42,850 to Governor Walker.

“The evidence is clear that the nation’s largest for-profit insurance company benefited substantially from Scott Walker’s disastrous decision to reject federal funds for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “It disturbing to believe that tens of thousands of Wisconsin families may be either without vital health coverage or paying too much for coverage just so Governor Walker’s campaign contributors can pad their profits.”

Lobbying records released Thursday by Citizen Action of Wisconsin from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) call into question Governor Scott Walker’s blanket denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

Television journalist Greg Neumann of WKOW TV 27 in Madison captured Scott Walker on video stumbling to respond to Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s revelation that insurance industry donations may have swayed his decisions to reject hundreds of millions of federal dollars for BadgerCare.  In the news story, Walker says on camera that “to my knowledge they [the insurance industry] haven’t lobbied me personally or anyone in my administration on this.”

However, lobbying records from GAB show that three powerful insurance industry trade associations and Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross spend 363 hours lobbying on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding. Wellpoint Anthem Blue Cross spent an additional 238 hours lobbying on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The expansion of BadgerCare is a key part of the health care law.

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State Records Show Insurance Industry Lobbied on BadgerCare

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 16 October 2014
in Wisconsin

scott_walkerContrary to Scott Walker's campaign denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject federal funds for BadgerCare, records show that the Alliance of Health Insurers, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Wisconsin spent at least 363 hours lobbying.


STATEWIDE - Lobbying records from the Government Accountability Board (GAB) call into question Governor Scott Walker’s blanket denial that the insurance industry lobbied his administration to reject enhanced federal funds for BadgerCare.

On a media call earlier this week Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released evidence of a relationship between large insurance industry campaign donations to Scott Walker and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. The data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare and has made major large campaign contributions to Governor Walker and leading Legislators.

Television journalist Greg Neumann of WKOW TV 27 in Madison captured Scott Walker on video stumbling to respond to Citizen Action of Wisconsin’s revelation that insurance industry donations may have swayed his decisions to reject hundreds of millions of federal dollars for BadgerCare.

In the news story, Walker says on camera that “to my knowledge they [the insurance industry] haven’t lobbied me personally or anyone in my administration on this.”

However, lobbying records from GAB show that three powerful insurance industry trade associations and one large national for-profit insurance company lobbied substantially on the part of the state budget related to BadgerCare funding.

The records show that Alliance of Health Insurers, Wisconsin Association of Health Plans, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and Wellpoint/Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Wisconsin spent at least 363 hours lobbying on the section of the state budget that includes BadgerCare funding.

Unlike GAB reporting requirements on individual bills, reporting rules on subjects in the state budget do not require specific disclosure of what position was taken, only what areas of the budget were lobbied.

“Lobbying records certainly cast doubt on Governor Walker’s blanket denial that his administration was lobbied by large insurance interests to reject federal funds for BadgerCare,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “We are very concerned that over 26,000 Wisconsin parents may be going without vital health coverage because of more pay-to-play corruption in the Walker Administration.”

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Campaign Contributors Benefited from Walker Rejection of BadgerCare Dollars

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 14 October 2014
in Wisconsin

scottwalker-dreamInsurance Companies getting windfall of public dollars also donated big money to Walker and legislators.


Statewide - On Monday morning, Citizen Action of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Democracy Campaign called into question relationship between large campaign donations and the rejection of federal funds for BadgerCare. When Governor Walker rejected federal funds for BadgerCare, an estimated 87,000 Wisconsin residents were forced to purchase private health insurance coverage from the health insurance marketplace. Tens of thousands fell into an entirely unnecessary coverage gap.

The new data shows that the insurance industry was the biggest beneficiary of the decision to reject the funds for BadgerCare, and have donated massively to the campaigns of Governor Walker and Legislators who pushed the policy through.

According to data collected by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the insurance industry, including insurance agents, have contributed over $1.26 million to Governor Walker from the period between 2009 and 2013. This is over three times more than Governor Jim Doyle received from the industry from 2000-2012. The insurance industry also gave nearly $1 million to State Legislators. The industry contributed over four times as much to Republican members of the State Assembly as their Democratic counterparts, and 2.7 times as much to State Senate Republicans. Data for 2014 is not yet available but experts believe the insurance industry contributions will be substantial.

These campaign contributions are dwarfed by the large financial windfalls for insurance companies resulting from the rejection of enhanced federal BadgerCare dollars. Federal marketplace plans are much more expensive than BadgerCare, and put the insurance industry in a position to profit substantially. Tracking the federal tax credits individuals denied BadgerCare receive instead to purchase private coverage, the data compiled by Citizen Action of Wisconsin shows that Wisconsin insurance companies would receive up to $350 million per year extra in tax credits for individual health policies. This does not include the premiums paid by individual consumers or new small business premiums.

“Many across Wisconsin have been confounded by Scott Walker’s seemingly irrational decision to leave hundreds of millions of federal dollars on the table that could have strengthened BadgerCare,”said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “This data raised the disturbing specter that Walker and conservatives in the Legislature sold out their own constituents for campaign cash from the insurance industry. Leaving tens of thousands of Wisconsin families without health coverage in return for campaign donations is morally repugnant.”

“The question of federal funds for BadgerCare is a clear example of where the public wants one thing, and the insurance companies want another, and unfortunately the insurance companies succeeded in getting their way”, said Mike McCabe, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “There is a disturbingly high presence of contributions directly to the officials that had the ability to get the industry what it wanted.”

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BadgerCare Coverage Gap Worst in Rural Counties

Posted by Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Robert Kraig
Robert Kraig is Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, 221 S. 2nd St.,
User is currently offline
on Friday, 03 October 2014
in Wisconsin

healthcare-familyNewly released county-level data shows number of residents by County forced off BadgerCare and left in “coverage gap.”


STATEWIDE - New Wisconsin Department of Health Services county-level data obtained from an open records request by Citizen Action of Wisconsin quantifies the BadgerCare coverage gap at the local level.  The data shows the statewide impact of the coverage gap caused by Governor Walker’s misguided decision to reject federal dollars to strengthen BadgerCare. Contrary to the widespread assumption this is primarily an urban problem, the data shows that the relative impact is greater in rural areas than in cities (see charts below).

Governor Walker’s decision to turn down billions in federal funds for BadgerCare forced 62,776 parents off the program in April, leaving 26,600 in a coverage gap unable to affordable private coverage. The Federal government, at the request of US Senator Tammy Baldwin, recently intervened by creating a special enrollment period in the health care marketplace for uninsured Wisconsinites forced off BadgerCare. While this will help some parents who missed the first open enrollment period, health advocates believe that many in the gap simply cannot afford the premiums, copays, and deductibles associated with private insurance.

On November 4, over 1 million Wisconsin voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on the issue when they vote on BadgerCare advisory referendums in 19 counties and 1 city.

Counties with the highest percent of individuals forced off BadgerCare still uninsured

Florence *

55.17%

Pierce

52.29%

Polk

51.84%

Forest

50.97%

St Croix *

50.37%

Green Lake

49.57%

Adams

49.06%

Oconto

48.59%

Sawyer

48.49%

Waushara

48.17%

* - Has BadgerCare referendum on November 4th ballot

Counties with most residents kicked off BadgerCare, as percent of population

Ashland

2.63%

Price

2.32%

Washburn

2.31%

Rusk

2.21%

Sawyer

1.99%

Barron

1.93%

Bayfield *

1.89%

Langlade

1.85%

Iron *

1.84%

Taylor

1.84%

* - Has BadgerCare referendum on November 4th ballot

Comparison of Major Metros



COUNTIES

Total residents kicked off of BadgerCare

Residents Stuck in "Coverage Gap"

Percent left  Uninsured

Brown

2,635

1,253

47.55%

Dane

3,150

1,054

33.46%

Douglas

565

272

48.14%

Eau Claire

1,354

523

38.63%

Kenosha*

1,720

772

44.88%

La Crosse

1,245

492

39.52%

Manitowoc

908

374

41.19%

Marathon

1,790

743

41.51%

Milwaukee

10,239

4,556

44.50%

Oneida

622

227

36.50%

Outagamie

1,840

843

45.82%

Portage

796

307

38.57%

Racine

1,969

896

45.51%

Rock

1,882

795

42.24%

Sheboygan

1,059

459

43.34%

Waukesha

2,431

1,016

41.79%

Winnebago

1,812

839

46.30%

Wood

1,253

483

38.55%

STATEWIDE

62,776

26,641

42.40%

13 of 20 Counties with BadgerCare referendum marked above in bold/underlined

* - City of Kenosha has referendum

 

Full data for all 72 Wisconsin counties can be found here.

“Governor Walker’s political decision to force 62,000 Wisconsinites off BadgerCare is inflicting needless damage to families and communities all across the state, especially in rural areas,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “Walker and his allies in the Legislature need to stop playing politics with the health and economic security of hard pressed families in every Wisconsin county who are working to get ahead and live the American Dream.”

Web link to Press Release here

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