FORBES: No Public Hearings On Medicaid Cuts As Scott Walker Tightens His Grip On Wisconsin

June 20, 2011
Rick Ungar

What’s a governor to do when he has a big agenda but little tolerance for the nagging voice of the people?

He either loads up on the anti-acids and the aspirins, or he finds the peace and quiet he requires to bring his society-changing schemes to life by simply legislating away the annoyance of having to listen to the voice of the voters.

Apparently, Gov. Scott Walker has decided to skip the Maalox and go for the muzzle.

Last week, the Wisconsin legislature passed a new state budget granting Gov. Walker the power to slash the state’s Medicaid program by some $500 million. To ensure that the Governor and his subordinates could do their cutting without unwanted interference from Wisconsin voters and the pesky media, the legislature simply removed the obligation of the executive branch to hold hearings on any such cuts- leaving Walker free to do as he will without the requirement of public input.

Previously, as a result of the now infamous budget-repair bill passed earlier this year in the Badger State, the legislature had taken themselves out of the Medicaid cutting business by turning full responsibility for the same over to the Department of Health Services. By so doing, the legislature not only avoided the requirement of holding public hearings, but handed Walker total and complete control over how the state’s poor were to be treated.

However, even that over-the-top legislation held onto the requirement that Health Services hold their own public hearings on proposed alterations to Medicaid programs so that interested parties could make their feelings and voices heard.

Apparently, the whole democracy thing turned out to be more trouble than it was worth in Wisconsin.

In the new budget, the legislature not only continues their own dismissal from the process – thereby continuing to abdicate the responsibility entrusted to them by their constituents – but have now opted to drop the requirement that public hearings be held by the Department of Health Services.

To further make clear just who is in complete control of Wisconsin’s government, the legislature added that the exemption from having to allow the public into the discussion is to be kept in place for the remainder of the Governor Walker’s term.

Not surprisingly, those who look out for the state’s poor are a bit concerned.

“We don’t know exactly what will be coming down the pike,” said Bob Jacobson, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. “And we don’t know how we can have a voice in those decisions when the Legislature has been taken out of the picture.” [...]

Via Thinkprogress Health

While we all understand that Wisconsin is trying to get its financial house in order – just as we understand that Governor Walker and his associates have gotten more than a little carried away with using the budget to pursue their rather extreme social agenda- one is left to wonder what Scott Walker has on the Fitzgerald Brothers that would inspire these men to give up the power of the legislative bodies each commands.

And all so that the Governor and his supporters can rule Wisconsin without legislative input beyond that strictly required by the state’s Constitution, and without the right of the people to add their voice to the discussion over how the health care safety net is to be modified.

Until we find those pictures that Walker holds somewhere under lock and key, it seems all too clear that the great state of Wisconsin is no more – at least not until the recall elections scheduled to take place in a few months.

‘Til then, all hail the Inglorious Empire of Wiscozistan and the all powerful Scott Walker.