In addition to
these issues, one thing that has been weighing heavily on everyoneís
mind is the upcoming projections of state revenue for the next two
years. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is preparing these
numbers and they will help us anticipate the needs of our state over the
next two years based on the money coming in. It is expected that the
numbers will reveal that the state is facing a serious budget deficit,
that is a gap between the money coming in (revenue) and the money going
These projections have become highly partisan as well. Those who support
some of the more drastic cuts included in the Governorís proposal had
hoped that the projections would show large sums of money that could
then be used to fill some of the holes created. Others are looking
towards the expected numbers as an indicator that it is time to
reprioritize and focus what limited resources the state has on vital
programs. Another interesting factor is that the JFC has pushed many
controversial topics until after the projections have been released.
Regardless, the projections will certainly be a game changer. Hopefully
we will have them by the end of this week. In the meantime, here is an
update on what the JFC debated today.
Update on the UW System
Before the JFC met today, the co-chairs told reporters that they have
abandoned the Governorís proposal to separate the UW System as an
independent authority. They also said that they hoped to reduce the $300
million in cuts under the Governorís proposal but they wonít be taking
up the issue until later this month.
The Governorís proposal would cut $732,000 that is currently used for
treatment of drunk drivers specifically in southeast Wisconsin. The
treatment program would lose funding solely dedicated to it and instead
have to compete with other substance abuse and community programs.
The JFC approved this plan. Additionally they approved the transfer of
the program from the DOT to the Department of Health Services.
Budget for the Governorís Office
The Governorís proposal would raise his state office budget by $375,000
or 5%. In terms of comparisons, the entire state budget includes only a
3.2% increase in spending.
The JFC approved the proposal along partisan lines.
The Governorís proposal would cut $4 million from the $19 million state
environmental management account that goes to different communities
around the state to fund recycling.
In the second year of the biennium, the $4 million would be restored but
this would come on top of a series of cuts to the recycling program
dating back to 2011.
The JFC voted to approve this plan.
The Governorís budget would create a commission to review pay for
The JFC rejected this plan.
Also, under this plan, the chief justice of the Supreme Court would no
longer make a different amount than the other justices.
The JFC approved the proposal.
The Governorís budget wanted to freeze wages for assistant district
attorneys and assistant public defenders.
The JFC voted to boost pay by 2% by 2016, a cost of roughly $1 million.
The proposal would also hire 35 assistant public defenders to save on
costs of referral to a private attorney.
The Governorís budget included a measure to change the circumstances in
which a special prosecutor could be appointed, narrowed to health issues
and not to help lighten the load of DAs.
The JFC voted to approve the plan.
Issues that were slated to be taken up but were delayed
The JFC was set to debate a proposal in the Governorís budget that would
cut over $500,000 from a UW Extension research study on solid waste.
Instead, the JFC members said they will take up the issue when they
begin debate on the rest of the UW system in the coming weeks.