Most voters are more than happy to leave work or put off other commitments on Election Day to visit the polls, but voters’ valuable time shouldn’t be taken for granted. Their time shouldn’t be wasted answering virtually meaningless advisory referendum questions, such as some concocted in recent years by the Rock County Board.
The board plans to vote Aug. 8 on whether to put on the ballot a question largely irrelevant now that Gov. Tony Evers has signed the 2019-21 budget. He adopted the budget without enacting one of his top priorities to expand Medicaid coverage in Wisconsin.
Some board members want to ask voters: “Should the State of Wisconsin accept Affordable Care Act Federal Medicaid funds earmarked to expand health insurance coverage to 82,000 additional Wisconsin residents resulting in the state saving $279.4 million?” (The county board debated at its Thursday meeting whether to change the figure to 76,000 additional residents.)
Keep in mind: The county has no power to expand Medicaid. Its only hope is to influence state legislators, but the Legislature has already decided against Medicaid expansion, arguing it could upset the private insurance market and increase dependence on government programs.
Which brings up another problem with advisory referendum questions such as this one: The wording is too biased for the results to be taken seriously.
The question implies that any vote against the referendum is a vote against saving the state millions of dollars. But many Republicans believe expanding Medicaid would, in the long run, prove more costly.
The referendum question isn’t about explaining the issue. It’s about making a political point so certain board members can claim support for their liberal platform.
If county board members really feel it necessary to send legislators a message on state issues, they should pass a resolution stating their case, send the resolution to legislators and leave it at that.
But let’s stop wasting voters’ time on advisory referendums that have zero impact on policy changes.