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Students, healthcare top-of-mind in Northwoods budget hearing

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JFC Budget Meeting Minocqua

MINOCQUA, Wis. (WAOW) - Dozens of people filled the auditorium at Lakeland Union High School Wednesday, getting a chance to make their voice heard as the state finalizes its next bi-annual budget.

Some groups held signs, chanted, wore matching shirts and did everything they could to get members of the state's Joint Finance Committee to pay more attention to their cause.

"This is not a social visit for the committee, they're here to get the job done," said Irma Republican Senator Mary Felzkowski.

"It gives our colleagues that are on the joint finance with us the unique ability to hear all the issues that really face the Northwoods."

Before the event even started, several state and local groups spoke out in front of the school.

"We need a common-sense, kid-centered budget," touted Jenni Hofschulte, representing the Wisconsin Public Education Network, "and the governor's proposals are the baseline for acceptable priorities for Wisconsin's kids, educators and communities."

Her group was there to support more funding for Wisconsin Public Schools.

"Antigo is at the low revenue ceiling of 10,000 (dollars) per pupil. We ask that they raise that, they raise the low revenue ceiling and then more equally fund students no matter what their ZIP code is," explained Katie Ostrenga with the Antigo School District.

Members of Citzien Action of Wisconsin were also on-hand, pushing for an expansion of the state's Badgercare program.

"Wisconsin is now only one of ten states that have not expanded Medicaid," said executive director Robert Kraig, "which means turning down billions in federal money every state cycle that could be used to cover more people with healthcare."

They were joined by Democratic State Representative Kristina Shelton of Green Bay.

"We want healthcare," Shelton said simply. "We don't want to get sick and be put into bankruptcy."

Lawmakers begin voting on the budget next week. 

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