Weather Forecast


County considers voters’ opinions

Douglas County voters could share their opinion with the state on health care and the minimum wage in November’s election.

The Douglas County Executive Committee last week approved resolutions to place advisory questions on the ballot in the next election. The county board decides next week if the questions appear on the ballot.

The first question asks voters to weigh in on whether the next state Legislature should accept available federal funds for BadgerCare to ensure Wisconsin citizens have access to quality, affordable health care.

The measure is being considered after Gov. Scott Walker rejected increased federal funding for Medicaid.

“Several counties are doing a referendum,” said Douglas County Board Chairman Doug Finn.

A yes vote would advised the Legislature that it should accept the funding, and a no vote would suggest they shouldn’t.

“There were like 80,000 people who were getting some medical coverage,” said Supervisor Dave Conley.

“If the state were to accept those Medicaid dollars, it would mean a little over $2 million a year,” Conley said. “… It would amount in the seven years this whole program cover, it would amount to $22.4 million.”

That’s in Douglas County alone. Statewide, that totals $2.4 billion the state is rejecting, Conley said. “This is all money that could be dispensed into the communities and the people who need it the most would be getting it for medical services.”

He said Wisconsin really stands to receive a windfall.

“I think we’ve at least got to let people know we care,” said Supervisor Nick Baker, who made a motion to forward the question to the County Board.

The second question would advise the governor and Legislature on voters’ opinion when it comes to raising the state minimum wage and abolishing the state tipped minimum wage.

A yes vote would advise the legislature that citizens of Douglas County want the minimum wage — now $7.25 an hour to match the federal minimum wage — raised to $10.10 per hour, and eliminate the state minimum wage for employees that receive tips. That wage is now $2.33 per hour, adjusted in 2009 when the current minimum wage went into effect.

Finn provided the committee with information on Minnesota’s changes in the minimum wage, which will increase each of the next three years based on the number and type of employees to be paid.