Gov.-elect Tony Evers has named five more Cabinet appointees, most of whom would face sizable policy challenges in Southeastern Wisconsin.
Evers has promised to try to expand federal Medicaid funding in Wisconsin, a move that could help cover thousands of more low-income people in the Milwaukee area. He says he also wants to help those with pre-existing medical conditions maintain their insurance coverage.
His choice to run the State Department of Health Services is Andrea Palm. She's a former Obama administration health care official, who worked on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Palm says she's anxious to travel around the state to hear about people's needs.
"These are issues that touch all of us. We all have family members, friends, and colleagues who have pre-existing conditions, who have difficulty affording their prescription, or who live in rural areas that lack a dentist or an OB/GYN, or a central behavioral health treatment program," Palm said at a news conference.
Evers says much will depend on federal court arguments over the Affordable Care Act, which has been declared unconstitutional by a district judge but remains in effect.
Another Cabinet appointee is Emilie Amundson. She will be the secretary of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), which has a large presence in Milwaukee. Amundson, who has been Evers' chief of staff at the Department of Public Instruction, says there's a long list of issues affecting families, but the state isn't starting from zero.
"I'm proud of Wisconsin's nation-leading work with opiate addiction and trauma-informed care. Housing stability, after-school care, youth justice reform and human trafficking reform are other areas ripe for continued collaboration with legislators and cabinet agencies alike," Amundson said at a news conference.
Amundson also emphasizes the importance of early childhood education, and mentioned a state council which has advocated for more home counseling visits to vulnerable families and a tax credit for early childhood educators.
With unemployment still a big problem in some minority neighborhoods around the state, Evers has named Caleb Frostman to head the Department of Workforce Development. Frostman was elected state senator last spring in a special election but was defeated in his re-election bid in November. Before that, he was an economic development official in Door County. He says he wants to help more people enter, stay in and advance in the workforce — including younger people he hopes to keep in Wisconsin.
"As we work to position Wisconsin to excel in this economy of the future, I think it's pretty obvious that winning the war on talent — err, the war for talent, not on talent, will be a determining factor,” Frostman said, to mild laughter.
Another Democratic lawmaker has been nominated to be the revenue secretary. State Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) was often a thorn in the side of departing Republican Gov. Scott Walker when Barca led Assembly Democrats. Barca says he's now ready to help fellow Democrat Evers.
"I was so thrilled with the platform he put forward. Not the least of which is trying to provide tax relief to the middle class," Barca said.
— Speaker Robin Vos (@SpeakerVos) January 3, 2019
Barca also promises to have the Revenue Department provide greater customer service, including to small businesses.
The final cabinet nominee announced Thursday was Dawn Crim. She will head the Department of Safety and Professional Services, which handles occupational licensing for real estate brokers, accountants and dozens of other professions. Crim has been an assistant state school superintendent but says she's ready to help the economy.
"The Department of Safety and Professional Services' mission is to promote economic growth and stability while protecting the citizens of Wisconsin," Crim said.
She says she looks forward to meeting with workers around the state to say the Evers Administration values them.
The GOP-controlled Wisconsin Senate must approve Evers' cabinet nominees.
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