Wheaton-Franciscan Health Care stands to gain $41 million a year under a partial budget fix announced by Gov. Jim Doyle on Wednesday.
Racine's local hospital would see an increase in its Medicaid reimbursement rate under the plan, according to State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. Ironically, the increase in federal dollars would come from assessing hospital revenues to bring in $78.5 million.
But the increase in Medicaid payments more than offsets the hospital assessments, Mason said, commenting: "The hospitals are big winners in this."
Doyle's proposal is part of a plan that would chop an estimated $167 million off of the state's projected $593 million deficit this year. The rest of the deficit will have to be made up in the next state budget, Mason said.
Doyle's plan cuts state spending $125 million, increases business taxes and requires a sales tax on all online purchases.
The increase in business taxes comes from closing a tax loophole that allows businesses to operate in Wisconsin but claim residency in states with lower tax rates. The governor's plan closes this loophole, Mason said. It's expected to increase state revenue $27.7 million.
"It's something that's been annoying people for a long time," he said.
The sales tax on online purchases is considered an equity issue. If you have to pay sales tax on something bought in a store, why wouldn't you pay taxes on something bought from Amazon? The change is expected to raise $9.4 million.
State Rep. Robin Vos, R-Caledonia, said Doyle's proposal unfairly raised taxes in the current recession.
“Though predictable - given the tone of Governor Doyle’s State of the State Address last
month – it’s still unfathomable to me that Governor Doyle could possibly consider
raising taxes on families and small businesses in the middle of the deepest recession of
the post-war era," he said, adding: "I certainly cannot support more Doyle tax increases that only add to a problem he has spent the last six years creating.”
Mason also noted Doyle's budget fix may create jobs in Racine. There's $1 million for worker training at technical colleges, tax incentives for business investments and no cuts that will benefit the potentially lucrative I-94 reconstruction project through Racine County.
Mason said the state needed to address lost jobs now, instead of waiting until a new budget is passed in July.
"The question is how do we get people back to work now?" Mason said.