By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Tony Evers’ Department of Health Services (DHS) delayed getting COVID-19 vaccines out to some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable, and the department failed to get meals to poor kids in federal food-assistance programs.
But DHS is making Gov. Tony Evers’ Woke agenda a top priority.
After the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee cut funding for “equity officer” positions in Evers’ bloated, $91 billion budget proposal, DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake defiantly declared the agency was going ahead with opening its Office of Health Equity.
“JFC has opted not to move forward with that but we at DHS, with our partners at the Department of Administration … have moved forward with a reorganization anyway. And so we’re very exited to announce the creation of that new office and that new director,” Timberlake recently said.
Evers’ budget included $145,000 for the health equity office, among some 400 non-fiscal and liberal policy items the Democrat crammed into his hefty biennial budget. As Empower Wisconsin first reported, Evers smashed all previous records for loaded policy measures.
While legislative sources say DHS and other state agencies could move money and positions around to create its equity office, why would Team Evers add the funding request for any and all of its so-called “equity and inclusion” initiatives if they have the ability to create the programs already?
More so, why would state agencies that have struggled to provide critical, basic services, particularly to at-risk populations, make Woke initiatives a top priority, especially during a pandemic? Because that’s what this far left governor and his administration are all about — feeding their radical base before hungry children trapped in failing schools.
In early February, Evers announced the members of his Governor’s Advisory Council on Equity and Inclusion, chaired by Dawn Crim, Secretary-designee of the state Department of Safety and Professional Services. Crim also happens to be black. The goal? To develop a “sustainable framework to promote and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion practices across Wisconsin state government.”
Its members were announced about the same time the administration, led by Health Services, was failing to get COVID-19 vaccines out, including shots to residents of Wisconsin’s assisted living facilities.
A month later, Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan was talking to WTMJ-4’s Charles Benson about a cabinet-level Chief Equity Officer position the administration squeezed into the budget. The taxpayer-funded post would “identify opportunities to advance equity in government operations.” About that time, reports surfaced that residents in Wisconsin’s assisted living facilities still hadn’t received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine series. Meanwhile, Evers’ dysfunctional Department of Workforce was not only failing to deliver unemployment payments to out-of-work Wisconsinites, it was doing nothing to check overpayments and fraud in the system. A month later, news broke DHS and the Department of Public Instruction couldn’t find tens of thousands of low-income children who ended up missing out on meal assistance, part of a federal program to make sure kids forced into failing virtual learning schools were still getting breakfast and lunch.
“Our priority is and always has been building a Wisconsin that works for everyone, and in order to do that, we have to have a state government that reflects the people they serve,” Evers said in announcing his equity and inclusion initiatives.
But while the administration looks to “refocus the lens on equity and inclusion,” the governor has left Wisconsin’s most vulnerable people out of his political vision.