August 25, 2017

Foxconn Public Hearing in the Joint Finance Committee

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held a public hearing at Gateway Technical College in Sturtevant on the Special Session bills regarding Foxconn. The Secretaries of the Departments of Administration, Revenue, Transportation, and Workforce Development all provided testimony and answered questions, as did the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and the CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. The expert testimony was followed by several hours of public testimony.

This legislation continues to be heavily vetted by members of both the Senate and Assembly and now awaits an executive session in JFC. I continue to work with my colleagues in the legislature to make sure this is the best deal for Wisconsin.

Joint Finance Committee Update

Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) was back in executive session to continue deliberations on the 2017-19 biennial budget. During these sessions, members of the committee debate and vote on specific provisions from Governor Walker's budget proposal. The goal of these sessions is to improve upon what the Governor has proposed while taking into consideration public input.

Once we have concluded executive sessions, we will submit a complete budget to both the Senate and the Assembly for approval. If both houses approve the budget, it will go to Governor Walker's desk for final approval.

Here is an update with some of the highlights from the session this week:

Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP):
-DATCP promotes quality food, healthy plants and animals, sound use of land and water resources, and a fair marketplace. The Department has a budget of about $190M biennially to meet this goal.
-The committee voted to maintain Wisconsin's Farm-to-School program, which helps connect schools with local farmers to procure safe, locally produced food.
-Increased funding for livestock registration to help the department respond to disease outbreaks on farms.
-Provide $210,000 annually to the Farmland Preservation Planning Grants Program.

Department of Natural Resources (DNR):
-The committee approved the Governor's proposal to reorganize the DNR. The intent of the reorganization is to help the department focus on priority functions that meet the department's mission by grouping similar functions within divisions to improve management of workload. The reorganization will not change the overall funding of the DNR or positions.
-Increased funding for county conservation staffing and soil and water resource management. These programs will now be able to better serve local units of government when managing land and water use.
-Fully funded a Central Sands hydrology study
-Provided $500,000 in funds to aquatic invasive education and control grants.

Department of Natural Resources - Forestry Mill Tax:
-The committee voted to repeal the Forestry Mill Tax, the state's property tax. This historic vote saves Wisconsinites $180 million in property taxes and removes the state entirely from property taxes. This is another action by Republicans to make government more efficient and effective.
-To continue our commitment to our state's forests, the committee took a number of other actions. These include:
       -Fully funding the forestry account so there will be no reduction in services and activities.
       -Providing additional funding for forest fire prevention
       -Placing $5 million in a forestry emergency account for wildfire, disease, and natural disaster costs.
       -Directing an audit of the forestry account to continue to ensure the the most effective and efficient use of funds.

State Public Defender:
-The committee approved the Governor's proposal to convert the State Public Defender to a block grant appropriation. This will create the opportunity for a more innovative and streamlined approach to agency management.
-Voted to provide over $3 million in pay progression for the State Public Defender, which will save money overall by reducing the reliance on private bar attorneys and continue to ensure Wisconsinites receive their constitutional right to legal representation.

The next JFC Executive Sessions will be held on Monday, August 28th. The following budget areas will be covered:
-Building Commission
-Building Program
-Public Instruction
     - General School Aids and Revenue Limits
     - Categorical Aids
     - Choice, Charter, and Open Enrollment - School District Operations
     - Administrative and Other Funding
-School Levy Tax Credit
-Lottery Fund

Legislative Website

If you are interested in learning more about bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on, please click here.  This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State Legislative page.  Also, if you are interested in viewing my office website, click here.


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State Capitol Room 321 East - PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-5719