The tab for Wisconsin’s rejection of federal Medicaid money as part of the Obamacare program has soared to more than $560 million, according to the latest Legislative Fiscal Bureau report. Gov. Scott Walker, who says he is running for the White House on his record, didn’t mention the decision during the first Republican presidential debate. Rejecting the federal money is one of the major actions of Walker’s years as governor. Walker has said his decision will protect Wisconsin taxpayers, suggesting the federal government may not be able to afford all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, which included the additional Medicaid money. Alas, Walker’s decision to reject federal money is not popular with the average Wisconsin citizen. Rejection of the federal money is a mistake, according to 60 percent of those answering an October 2014 Marquette University Law School Poll. It could be one of the reasons only 41 percent supported Walker’s gubernatorial record in the April Marquette Law Poll. Wisconsin is not very good at getting federal aid. Earlier this summer, the non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance said Wisconsin is 47th among the states in the amount of federal money received in 2013. Walker has been steady in his approach toward federal money. Early in his first term as governor of Wisconsin, he rejected an estimated $800 million for a high-speed rail line. The developers of the rail equipment have sued the state in federal court. The case is pending. Wisconsin also was one of only four states that implemented reductions in food stamp funds. Other affected states found ways to avoid the Congressional budget decisions. Walker could point out how Wisconsin is different than other states. His approach clearly is not to try to capture the maximum amount of federal funds. That could make him a saint to fiscal conservatives. -Matt Pommer is the “dean” of Capitol correspondents in Madison. His column is published with permission from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.
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