By Brett Healy
President, The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy
This past week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced sweeping reforms of three entitlement programs: Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation and FoodShare, commonly referred to as food stamps.
Those who follow our work know these programs have been in financial trouble for some time.
From our founding four years ago, we've been ahead of the curve when it comes to the analysis and coverage of the major public policy issues facing Wisconsin. Months before Act 10 was introduced, for example, we were covering the labor disputes with the public employee unions. We wrote about Wisconsin's role at the forefront of public workers' organizing efforts and the ills inherent with public employees engaging in collective bargaining with other public employees.
Similarly, we've been at the forefront of examining the problems with the three entitlement programs Governor Walker addressed last week.
You can review of coverage of Medicaid, Unemployment Compensation and the FoodShare program in our archives. While the mainstream media was obsessed with the conflict of the Capitol Chaos of 2011-2012 (something of which we again provided more thorough and accurate news coverage and analysis) we kept our eye on these budget-busting entitlement programs.
We brought you news regarding the dwindling Unemployment Insurance reserves and the subsequent surcharge on the state's employers. We dove deep into the Department of Health Services regular fraud reports and the subsequent audit of the FoodShare program. And we've been all over the exponential increase in the state's Medicaid rolls as BadgerCare kept growing and growing.
In fact, two years ago, we published the first in-depth interview with new DHS Secretary Dennis Smith, where he explained how the expansion of the program had led to its failure to fulfill its core mission. That 2011 interview also foreshadowed the changes Walker outlined last week.
These are just the latest examples of the work and mission of the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy. Traditionally, the mainstream press lacks the capacity or interest to provide thorough coverage of these budget issues until someone like the Governor specifically points to them in a major public policy address. Conversely, old-school policy shops may examine the issues and publish journal-worthy peer-reviewed research that would sit on a shelf almost immediately upon publication.
The MacIver Institute fills the niche between those two traditional approaches. We're not the mainstream media and we're not a traditional think tank. We are an organization of the times. We're more of a 'Do-Tank.' We aggressively and unabashedly tackle, publicize and analyze the issues you need to be concerned about. And we often prescribe the realistic solutions to these problems before the politicians do.
March 4th marks the fourth anniversary of our public unveiling. We are committed to have as much success--and impact--in the next four years as we've had since 2009.
Do you want to know what public policy issue the politicians will be tackling in the next few elections? Simple--follow the work of the MacIver Institute in the next few months.
From Act 10 to the northern Wisconsin mine, from election procedures to entitlement reform, we're watching, and working on, what matters to Wisconsin taxpayers.