So you may have
noticed that it has been quite a while since youíve heard from me about
the budget. When I last sent out an update, we knew that Joint Finance (JFC)
had delayed taking up some more controversial parts of the budget but we
didnít know when they would take it up again. So we waited and waited.
And weíre still waiting. Apparently, summer doldrums have hit the JFC
All kidding aside, there is logic behind what is going on or rather not
going on right now. Transportation funding is one of the most
controversial issues currently facing the body and it is an issue that
doesnít break evenly along party lines. The majority party is currently
struggling to try to come up with a proposal that all of their members
support. So now is the perfect time for bipartisan compromise.
Unfortunately, there has been little to no effort to include the
minority party in the negotiations. I truly believe that is a mistake.
So where does that leave us? Well, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the
nonpartisan numbers people, and the Legislative Reference Bureau, the
nonpartisan bill drafters, are working to draft what was already passed
by JFC into an actual amendment to the bill. Once the JFC finishes its
work, the bill is expected to go to the Senate first where they will
perhaps make further changes. Then it will come to the Assembly for a
A note on the timeline: while the fiscal year ends on June 30, the new
budget does not have to be signed into law by then. Instead of a
government shutdown situation, all our state agencies would operate as
they do currently as they wait for the new budget to be signed into law.
What this means is that our state would be in a form of limbo: schools
that would face cuts once the budget passes are unable to plan for them
as the school year quickly approaches. Agencies and programs will not
know how much money they will have to operate. Some payments to agencies
and units of government may be delayed.
While we know that the goal is to have the budget passed and signed by
the end of this month, my colleagues and I are preparing ourselves for
the very real possibility that this budget process will extend as far as
July. The Chair of JFC has indicated that he hopes to hold its next
meeting on Wednesday. If that is an indication that they may wrap up
their work next week, the Senate could get the budget a week or so
later. I will be sure to keep you posted as we learn more information.
In the meantime, here is a recap of where we stand with the budget right
now based on the changes from JFC:
maintained the Governorís proposed cuts of $127 million to public
schools but added $70 million in the second year of the budget.
the 1,000 student enrollment cap on the statewide voucher program.
The JFC plan
calls for private schools receiving vouchers to get roughly $7,200
for each K-8 student and $7,800 for each high school student. (This
compares to $6635 per student that would go to a public school).
This would cost $48 million over the next biennium.
motion would allow the DPI to grant teaching licenses to people
wanting to teach technical courses and meet the requirements for
work experience and teacher training. No bachelorís degree would be
approved a cut of $250 million to the UW System
The UW System would not be allowed to offset the cuts with the
option they used in the past Ė tuition increases. Instead the JFC
voted for a two year tuition freeze.
proposal, academic tenure would no longer be state law. Instead, the
UW Board of Regents would have the option to keep tenure in place or
not. Currently they are taking steps to keep it in place.
would now have the ability to grant merit pay.
also moved the issue of shared governance to the Board of Regents,
allowing them to decide if the current system of bringing students,
faculty and instructors together for important decisions will
approved the Governorís request for a waiver to allow DHS to
contract with statewide managed care organizations to provide Family
voted not to maintain IRIS as an independent program but rather
incorporate elements of the program into other programs.
voted to leave SeniorCare ďas is.Ē
voted to cut 80 positions from the DNR, including 18 out of 58
Bureau of Science Services positions.
voted to keep the Stewardship program intact but reduced their
spending and borrowing limits
Jobs and Economic Development
Policy Items that snuck their way into the budget
on how municipalities can use hotel taxes
special needs students
standards for teachers for grades 6-12
for all high school graduates
homeschoolers to participate in public school sports
the influence Dane County has on their water quality plan
county control over shore land zoning
logging in state forests
Needless to say, I have some significant concerns over many of the
provisions of the budget, both as introduced and as amended by JFC. I
have heard from many of my constituents about your specific concerns
and, in fact, just received a petition signed by over 500 of you
expressing opposition to many of the budget provisions relating to
education. Whether there are things you like in the budget or things you
donít like, it is important that I hear from you. Please let me know
your thoughts before we take the final vote in the Assembly. After that,
itís too late.