State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
This may be the most egregious of all the tax increases included in Governor Doyle’s proposed 2009-11 state budget. First, some background.
Wisconsin developed a provider assessment on nursing home beds during 1991-1992. Until July 2003, the nursing home bed tax was $32 per month per occupied nursing home bed.
In his proposed 2003-05 state budget, the governor wanted to increase the bed tax to $116 per month. The Legislature reduced the governor’s request to the current $75 per month tax.
Governor Doyle proposed an increase in the nursing home bed tax in the 2005-07 state budget from $75 to $125 per month. Again, the governor was unsuccessful.
The governor’s proposed 2007-09 state budget included an increase in the nursing home bed tax from $75 to $127 per cent, a 69 percent increase. Republicans at the time controlled the state Assembly. They intervened and managed to block the increase.
Governor Doyle is proposing it again. His proposed 2009-11 state budget increases the nursing home bed tax from $75 per bed per month to $150 during the first year of the biennium and $170 during the second year. The move would increase the cost of health care, making it more difficult for employers to provide and their workers to pay for coverage.
The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services reports that at the end of 2005, there were 401 nursing homes licensed to provide service in Wisconsin with a total of 39,146 licensed beds. Patients and their loved ones would be impacted by the huge nursing home bed tax increases the governor is seeking.
I repeat what I stated during the 2007-09 budget deliberations: Proposing a tax increase on nursing home beds is about as low as it gets.