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. Nearly all. Nothing in governor Scott Walker's budget plans for
the next two years involve saving money by turning the state's legislature
back into one that's just part-time as it once was. That was before,
says Mike McCabe from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. Before lawmakers became
full-timers intent on re-election, power, and partisanship. In those days, citizen legislators tended to be more efficient and significantly less beholden to special interests. And, by the way, they cost a bit less, too, says McCabe.
Wisconsin's legislature is one of only 10 states that have a full-time
legislature. Others include California, New York, , Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Ohio.
Whether the city of La Crosse will have higher property taxes as a result
of shrinking state aid is yet to be seen. But at least two city
departments are seeking to add revenue to the treasury through fees. Like
the higher fireworks fee being sought by fire chief Gregg Cleveland from groups like the Skyrockers who perform the city's Fourth of July show every year. The new fee would go from $30 every year to $125 twice per year, an eight-fold increase. The planning department is also aiming for a
thirty dollar per sign billboard inspection fee. The city council is set
to decide on both this month.
In La Crosse, two years of relative property tax relief have been welcomed
by taxpayers. Mayor Matt Harter agrees that it's going to be tough to
make it three years in a row for a zero property tax levy rate increase this
year. Hard to achieve in the face of looming revenue cuts from the state.
Hard, but not impossible, he says. Harter believes efficiencies in how city hall operates along with advances in technology can help the city get to another flat levy rate increase.
This week, governor Walker outlined a two year budget plan that cuts more
than a billion dollars in local government aid. But the governor's plan
also restricts property tax increases. All of which would have to be approved by the legislature.
Gundersen Lutheran and St. Joseph’s Community Health Services have entered into a formal affiliation that will create a more efficient healthcare delivery system for people in the Hill Country region. The affiliation will allow for higher-quality, seamless care in Hillsboro, Wonewoc, Elroy and surrounding communities, with less duplication of services.
The new combined entity will be known as St. Joseph’s Health Services – Gundersen Lutheran. In November 2010, St. Joseph’s entered into a management agreement with Gundersen Lutheran.
In the coming months, the Gundersen Lutheran – Hillsboro Clinic and St. Joseph’s Hillsboro Clinic will consolidate in one location at the St. Joseph’s Hospital. Planning is underway to physically merge Gundersen Lutheran and St. Joseph’s in Wonewoc in the future. During and after the transition, St. Joseph’s will continue to accept insurances they currently accept. After the transition, all patients’ billing statements will come from the consolidated clinic operation, St. Joseph’s Health Services - Gundersen Lutheran. There are no plans to reduce overall employment as a result of the affiliation.
Later today the Onalaska School District, like many districts around the state, will find out how much of hit they could take after Governor Scott Walker releases details on his budget repair bill.