Monday, May 11, 2015

If WisGOPs want to help Milwaukee kids, step up this week

The reaction continues to pour in from the ALEC-influenced proposal from State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) to sell off pieces of Milwaukee Public Schools, and have them run by an unelected charter school czar. I'll direct you to a great takedown by MPS teacher Jay Bullock in Blogging Blue on this today, if you want to get more insight as to just how bad an idea this is. But if Koo-Koo Kooyenga, Darling, and the rest of the WisGOPs on the Joint Finance Committee really do care about Milwaukee youth, I have a better source of legislation for them, one they can make a move on this week. They can choose to invest in programs for Milwaukee youth during this week's meetings- programs that were underfunded by millions of dollars in Governor Walker's budget.

That hearing is part of a number of items from the Department of Children and Families that'll be discussed this Thursday, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's paper on the Milwaukee Child Welfare Aids shows where Walker shortchanged them in his budget.
2. DCF indicates that, compared to the bill, additional funding in the amounts of $7,330,400 in 2015-16 and $5,640,800 in 2016-17 will be needed to support BMCW out-of-home costs. This is mainly because costs of the following items were mistakenly omitted from estimates used to determine the level of funding provided under the bill: (a) placements in out-of-state RCCs; (b) child placing agency administrative costs; and (c) supervised independent living placements.

3. Out-of-state RCCs are not subject to DCF rate regulation and therefore are much more expensive than in-state RCCs. Generally, a juvenile court will order a child placed into an out-of-state RCC because in-state RCCs cannot accommodate the special needs of the child or because instate RCCs lack the necessary capacity for the placement. DCF projects that there will be seven out-of-state placements in 2015-16 and 2016-17 at a cost of $1,469,100 annually. Such costs were not included in the budget bill.

4. Child placing agencies are licensed by DCF to place children in licensed family foster homes, treatment foster homes, and licensed group homes. The regulated rate for child-placing agencies is a per-client administrative rate that each agency may charge for the administrative portion of its services for foster homes with a Level 3 or Level 4 certification under the foster care levels of care system. The regulated rates for 2015 range from $55 up to $65. The administrative costs of child placing agencies were not included into the cost calculations used to determine the level of funding needed for Level 3 and Level 4 foster homes under the bill. As a result, the reestimated costs for Level 3 and Level 4 foster homes, which are based upon expenditure data through March, 2015, are larger than projected under the bill by $5,223,300 2015-16 and by $4,722,300 in 2016-17.
So is this just one giant case of the D'OHs from the Walker Administration, or were they intentionally leaving this out so the budget numbers balanced, with the hope that the real budget work would be done later? I'll let you be the judge on that.

Yes, some of these extra costs are offset by a few overestimated costs, like with Level 1 and Level 2 foster homes and with a "wraparound" program for children and families with severe mental health needs, but there is still a lot of money that has to be made up to be fully funded. Going on the LFB paper, this comes out to $9.5 million of General Fund dollars that has to be added to the budget just to keep programs operating as they are. Yes, I know it's a tough budget, but there's more than $5 million in overestimated Homestead and First Dollar property tax credits that can go towards this, and I'm guessing some of that WEDC money could go to a much better use than the slush fund it's currently earmarked for.

So I throw the challenge to the Wisconsin GOP this week. Correct Gov Walker's "mistakes", and fund these programs for Milwaukee youth and their families. If you do, then maybe I'll start believing you care about Milwaukee kids as something other than a profit center for your campaign contributors from the voucher lobby. Deal?

1 comment:

  1. Well, the GOPs obvious noticed they were in trouble, because they and the Dems on JFC chose to fund those items, with a minor tweak. They're basically going to sub $3 million of extra Child Support money for $3 million of General Fund tax money, but it's still about $7 million in added General Fund spending to correct the Walker Admin's mistake.

    And the Dems hammered the Walker folks for blowing this, as well as it's general incompetence at running the BMCW. Oddly, the GOPs didn't want to audit this organization, it's backlogs, and funding issues. Wonder why?