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      Understanding the Budget Process Week by Week

May 22, 2017

 Still Voting in JFC

 State Rep. Steve Doyle

State Capitol
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0631
(888) 534-0094


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The Executive Sessions, part 3 

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) was back again last week with two long days full of voting on the budget. Here is a recap of some of the issues they covered:

Thursday, May 18th Executive Session:

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Tech College Tuition Freeze

  • In his budget, the Governor called for a tuition freeze at all Wisconsin Technical Colleges. He also proposed an increase in funding by $10 million.
  • The JFC voted against the tuition freeze.
  • They also voted to spend $5 million on need-based financial aid for tech college students and said they will be using the other $5 million elsewhere.
  • A proposal to provide free tech college education to all was defeated on party lines.

Homestead Credit

  • This is a refundable tax credit of $1,460 for homeowners or renters with an income below $24,680 per year.
  • The Governor’s budget limited the credit to people 62 and up, working adults and the disabled, cutting out homeowners who become unemployed. The proposal also called for reinstating indexing the credit to inflation. It was estimated that 22,100 people would lose the credit or have it reduced.
  • On a party line split, the JFC voted to remove the indexing and altered the formula to continue to provide the credit for 2,000 and ensure that another 10,800 wouldn’t see their credit reduced.

Labor and Industry Review Commission

  • This commission was created to hear appeals on cases related to unemployment insurance, workers compensation and equal rights.
  • The Governor proposed ending the commission and transferring its functions.
  • On a party line split, the JFC voted to keep the commission but cut several vacant positions. They also voted to give the chief justice of the Supreme Court the ability to review all decisions made by the commission to ensure they comply with state law. 

Educational Approval Board

  • The Governor proposed eliminating this board, which oversees for-profit colleges in Wisconsin.
  • The JFC voted unanimously to keep the staff of the board, move it to the Department of Safety and Professional Services and end the board on July 1, 2018.

Performance-Based Funding for Tech Colleges

  • The Governor’s budget changed the way performance-based funding is distributed to tech colleges.
  • The JFC voted against this provision and to keep the formula as is.

Tuesday, May 16th Executive Session:

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Elections Commission Staffers

  • The Governor’s budget proposal cut six positions from the commission despite their claims that they were significantly understaffed during recent elections.
  • The JFC voted to restore five of those positions in the budget.

Sexual Predator Placement

  • One JFC member introduced a proposal designed to prevent judges from placing violent sex offenders far from their home counties. The responsibility for finding housing for them would be given to local officials.
  • The proposal removes the limitations that require sex offenders be placed at least 1,500 feet from schools, child day care centers, parks and churches.
  • The JFC voted to include this proposal in the budget on a split vote.

Children’s Mental Health Facility

  • The JFC voted in favor of the Governor’s plan to invest $1.2 million in an eight-bed facility for children going through mental health crises.

Increased Payments for Foster Parents

  • The JFC approved the Governor’s proposal to increase state payments to foster parents by 2.5% in each of the two years of this biennium. The current per-child rate of $232 would go up to $238 in 2018 and to $244 in 2019.

County Child Welfare Programs

  • The Governor recommended and JFC approved $6 million to help fund county child welfare programs. These programs are becoming increasingly in demand because of the rise in use of heroin and opioids.

Still yet to come:

Like any good procrastinator, the JFC has put off dealing with the larger more controversial issues. In addition to transportation, the Assembly and Senate Republican Leadership appear split on whether or not to eliminate the state portion of the property tax (which is used to fund forestry programs) and how to fund the Governor’s proposed public education increase.

Here’s the list of what JFC will be taking up this week:


Tuesday, May 23rd

  • State Treasurer
  • Department of Administration
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Higher Educational Aids Boards
  • Educational Communications Board
  • University of Wisconsin System
  • Children and Families

Tuesday, May 25th 

  • Building Commission
  • Department of Health Services
  • Medicaid
  • FoodShare
  • Mental Health
  • Public Health

As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions you might have on anything in this update or in the budget in general. I'm always happy to provide whatever information I can.

Until next time,