MADISON- Buried in the bizarre details of Scott Walker's election-year budget farce is Walker's plan for Wisconsin taxpayers to absorb $6.8 million in BadgerCare obligations for Milwaukee County, a direct consequence of his disastrous policies at the county's mental health complex.
Walker agreed to the BadgerCare payments as part of biennial budget negotiations in 2009, but now, with the county facing $100 million structural budget deficitand on the brink of bankruptcy, state taxpayers are being told by Walker to clean up his mess.
The plan for Walker to renege on the BadgerCare obligations related to Walker's Behavioral Health Division (BHD) was included in a staff overview released last week, which states:
"...The 2011 Recommended Budget anticipates that the State will remove the annual requirement that BHD contribute $6.8 million to the BadgerCare Core program which evolved from the General Assistance Medical Program (GAMP)... If this contribution requirement is not rescinded, BHD will have a significant budget problem that will likely have countywide implications..."
[Milwaukee County Board Research Division, Overview of County Executive’s 2011 Recommended Budget, 10/7/10]
It is not immediately clear what the consequences to state or Milwaukee County taxpayers will be from this scheme. Walker already was plugging his election-year budget with $2 million in assumed savings from a bus video program that doesn't even have a vendor.
"Taxpayers throughout Wisconsin are going to have to pay $6.8 million to pay for the ongoing crisis at his Milwaukee Mental Health Complex because Scott Walker can neither budget nor keep his word," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Tuesday. "We need a leader we can trust to fix problems and get things done, not someone like Scott Walker who passes the buck to others."