State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
During the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) was jamming controversial social policies into the budget with little notice and while very few in Wisconsin were paying attention.
My former legislative aide, Christian Schneider, now with the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) writes about “coverage“ the JFC approved, and “coverage“ is the operative word.
The JFC endorsed a provision in Governor Doyle’s propsoed 2009-11 state budget that extends the Medicaid Family Planning Waiver program to men. Increased funding of $355,000 will help to pay for free condoms for the program’s new recipients. Schneider writes the governor’s and the Democrat-controlled JFC’s flawed logic goes like this: more condoms, fewer births that would be funded by the tate’s medical assistance (MA) program.
“Ah, you see - the program pays for itself. If taxpayers just bought more condoms for people, we’d have fewer pregnancies, and therefore fewer taxpayer subsidized births. Because condoms are just so difficult to come by these days. Certainly, once government starts handing them out, everyone will be using them, right? Well, no. Eight other states allow men to take part in the Family Planning Waiver program, and zero have seen any cost reductions as a result of ’fewer births.’“
You can read Schneider’s entire piece with more details about what happened the Memorial Day weekend here.
Pro-Life Wisconsin also sheds some light on two controversial measures adopted by the JFC along party lines the same Saturday.
One requires all Wisconsin pharmacies to dispense prescribed contraceptive drugs or devices.
“This budget motion is a bold attack on the lawful conscience rights of pro-life pharmacy professionals,” said Peggy Hamill, Pro-Life Wisconsin’s state director.
The other measure requires commercial health insurance plans and self-insured governmental health plans to include contraceptive drugs and devices.
“Pregnancy is not a disease,” said Hamill. “Why should the government force health insurance companies – and the policy holders who will pay for this expansion through increased premiums – to cover drugs and devices that are purely elective?”
You can read more from Pro-Life Wisconsin here.
Given the nature of these policy items, it is clear why the JFC chose to conduct its business when no one was looking and with little, if any, advance notice to the general public and news media.