Jodi Emerson: Protect state while helping HSHS

Jodi Emerson: Protect state while helping HSHS

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On Nov. 7, the Wisconsin Assembly had a floor session that included discussion of a veto override attempt for a regional crisis stabilization center in the Chippewa Valley.

Although Gov. Tony Evers’ veto was sustained, I can guarantee that the project at HSHS to expand mental-health beds is not dead.

Assembly Bill 433 and Senate Bill 405 have been introduced, both of which are extremely similar to what was included but partially vetoed in the budget. Republicans, Democrats and HSHS, the health system for which this funding was earmarked, have all suggested ways to make the bills better.

There were a few major issues I had with the budget addition proposed by Sen. Kathy Bernier and Rep. Jesse James.

First, I had concerns about projects being inserted into the budget to guarantee a vote from a senator to ensure the budget’s passage.

Second, this addition came at the last minute, which means there was no time to hear public input, to thoroughly vet this proposal, or to answer any questions.

In addition, the $15 million from the budget that was allocated for the HSHS project was diverted to Mendota Mental Health Center and will be used for mental-health programming of juvenile offenders as we close Lincoln Hills. This is the reasoning behind my decision to support Gov. Evers’ veto of the earmark in the budget.

Although HSHS is a well-run organization with a strong mission, we need to make sure the state’s investment is protected, even if the needs of the health-care system change. Fortunately, there are amendments being drafted that will make this bill stronger and ensure protections for the state and HSHS.

This was not a partisan decision, it was a decision about taking care of those in our juvenile justice system while protecting our state’s investment.

Jodi Emerson, Eau Claire

Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, represents the 91st District in the Wisconsin Assembly.

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