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Legislators meet to approve worker contracts, tweak BadgerCare extension

By Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio

The full state legislature returns to Madison today to approve a handful of state employee contracts and take up some tweaks to Gov. Scott Walker's BadgerCare overhaul.

The state employee contracts cover five union bargaining units representing about 2,400 workers. While about 69,000 non-union state workers got 1 percent raises last July, these union employees did not.

It's a departure from the way the state used to run things before Act 10, when unions would reach their deals first and those would set the table for what non-union employees would get. In this case, the 1 percent raises coming to these union workers will be applied retroactively to last July.

The BadgerCare tweak being taken up in the Senate today effectively irons out the final details of changes to BadgerCare the legislature approved in December. It affects parents who earn more than the federal poverty level, a group that's slated to lose BadgerCare coverage on April 1 and will be expected to sign up for the federal health insurance marketplace instead. Under the plan before the Senate, they'd have to be signed up for that BadgerCare by Feb. 1 – otherwise, they'd no longer be eligible.

While the dates and income standards can sound complicated, the bottom line is that this change is projected to reduce the state's BadgerCare enrollment by a few thousand in February and March.

It's perhaps the most controversial item on the legislature's agenda for tomorrow, after a charter schools bill was removed from the schedule. The legislature will be back in session next week in advance of Walker's State of the State Address.