Tiffany, Wisconsin GOP skeptical of billions of dollars of budget requests from state agenciesSubmitted: 11/22/2014
Story By Ben Meyer

Tiffany, Wisconsin GOP skeptical of billions of dollars of budget requests from state agencies
MINOCQUA - A quick glance at Wisconsin's governmental finances could convince you the state has a hole to fill.

Projections show the state will take in $2.2 billion fewer than its agencies want to spend from mid-2015 to mid-2017.

The state legislature and Gov. Scott Walker will need to figure out how to make the numbers work.

Northwoods Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) points out the money the agencies want is more than the agencies will get.

"Yes, it's very much a wish list," he said Saturday. "As we get toward Thanksgiving, a lot of us are filling out our Christmas wish lists. It's kind of like that for the agencies."

For example, the Department of Transportation wants to raise taxes and fees by about 750-million dollars to fund its projects.

That would include new fees on new car sales and an increase to the gas tax.

Tiffany is skeptical of that plan.

"Before I will vote for any tax for fee increases, you have to show us some efficiencies within your budget," Tiffany said. "I think the DOT budget is $4 or 5 billion, something like that. You need to show us that you're spending those dollars effectively and efficiently. I expect those things to happen first. The last thing we should do is raise taxes or fees."

Tiffany suggested cutting back on projects that only improve the appearance of roadways.

Democrats in the legislature may have a tough time impacting budget choices.

They're in the minority in both houses.

On Saturday, we reached out to every legislative Democrat in our area who will be involved in the budget process.

We weren't able to reach any of them.

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WAUSAU - Aspirus ambulances are still responding to other emergencies besides the coronavirus - but the health system has decided to dedicate some vehicles to potential COVID-19 cases.

Aspirus System MedEvac and Trauma Director Jason Keffeler showed the modified ambulance at a press conference outside of Aspirus Wausau Monday.

Minor adjustments include a plastic cover on the ventilator monitor and reducing items that would not be needed for a coronavirus patient.

"The ambulance behind us is just a regular ambulance. But we just want to make sure we have proper protective equipment on the ambulance," said Keffeler. "So masks, faceshields, glasses, gown and gloves that we would wear with any suspect patients that we may be transporting."

Specific staff will be using the COVID-19 ambulances.

Keffeler said EMS workers were in short supply before the coronavirus outbreak.

"If anyone of are staff goes down we're not going to have them to take care of the next people going around," said Keffeler. "So taking appropriate safety precautions at all steps is critical."

The ambulances will be throughly disinfected after each use.

This includes the final step of using a UV light.

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Johnson & Johnson announced Monday that it has selected a coronavirus vaccine candidate to test in humans.

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"Across Macy's, Bloomingdales, and Bluemercury brands, we will be moving to the absolute minimum workforce needed to maintain basic operations," the company said in a statement. "This means the majority of our colleagues will go on furlough beginning this week."

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It's the same over at the Shell Station near Trig's.

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RHINELANDER - Every single community across the country is trying to hold the pieces together during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce is doing their part in trying to rally the community together. 

The Chamber's mission during the safer at home order is to be a source of valid information. 

You can find resource pages on its website and positive stories and missions on its social media. 

Rhinelander Chamber Director Lauren Sackett says she believes the community will come out even stronger after the pandemic. 

"Its exciting to see the different changes people have made to their businesses as well. So I think that things can only go up from here and I think our community is really great for times like this," Sackett said.

This week the chamber is hosting a virtual Rhinelander Spirit week. 

Its asking people to post fun, new pictures each day to keep positivity in our lives. 

Some of the topics are Medical Monday to support healthcare workers, Twining Tuesday and Flowery Friday. 

You can find the link to the Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook page down below. 

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