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AARP Wisconsin Lays Out Its Priorities for State Budget Ahead of Rhinelander Budget Hearing

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AARP Wisconsin is laying out five major priorities for Wisconsin’s next two-year budget.

They include support for family caregivers, expansion of Medicaid, expansion of broadband, lower prescription drug costs and retirement security options.

Jim Flaherty, Communications Director for AARP Wisconsin, said all of those priorities are in Governor Tony Evers’ budget proposal, now it’s just getting support from Republican lawmakers.

“These issues are non-partisan. We’re seeing already support for family caregivers, we’re seeing for expansion of broadband. There is an intent to cross the aisle and try to provide some of the support for issues. And these are not just issues that impact the 50-plus. They impact everybody.”

Flaherty says even if they don’t get included in the budget, he hopes there’s enough support to pass legislation in support these issues.

One in particular AARP would like to see passed is the CARE Act which would make sure hospitals have conversations with family caregivers before the patient is discharged.

AARP would also like to see a $500 caregiver income tax credit for family caregivers who provide for family member at their own expense.

“Caregiving is kind of something that slips through the cracks of people’s visibility. The truth is Wisconsin has about 600,000 family caregivers. These are folks who are working generally full time or part time and also providing unpaid care for their loved ones.”

Governor Evers has declared 2021 as the ‘Year of Broadband’. His proposed budget includes $200 million dollars in broadband spending.

AARP Wisconsin supports this push.

Flaherty says people may not connect broadband as an important issue for people 50-plus, but it’s an important factor in people’s health, especially in rural areas where broadband is lacking.

“It is just about connecting folks to their drug availability, their prescription medications, things like that, being able to connect with loved ones via the internet, there’s social isolation that goes around with being cut off from broadband service. It’s hugely connected to that population,” said Flaherty.

People have a chance to share their thoughts about the state budget at tomorrow’s budget hearing hosted by the Joint Committee on Finance.

“This is your one opportunity every two years leading up to a budget where you can get your two cents worth in on issues that are crucially important to you.  Whether that’s our issues or education, transportation, infrastructure, whatever the issue is that’s important to you, you get a chance to be in front of the microphone with the state’s top legislators who are crafting the budget, talk directly to them. They listen, they listen to constituents,” said Flaherty.

The hearing starts tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. at the Hodag Dome in Rhinelander. It goes until 5:00 p.m.

Flaherty recommends getting there early to get your name on a list to speak.

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