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      Understanding the Budget Process Week by Week

May 1st, 2017

 Executive Sessions Begin

 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 begin

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) begins voting on the budget this week. Over the next month, the JFC members will meet to vote on the budget agency by agency and department by department.

The JFC operates a little differently than most committees. For example, I’m on the Committee on State Affairs. We hold public hearings on bills and then hold “Executive Sessions” were we vote to send the bill to the floor of the Assembly. Members can also introduce amendments to the bill and have the committee vote to make them a part of the legislation.

In the JFC, their most important responsibility is the 989 page budget bill – and because it is such a massive document, they break up each proposal into separate votes in separate Executive Sessions. One day they will vote on all the transportation issues in the budget and another day they will vote on all the education issues and so on.

Here are the proposals they will be taking up in their first Executive Session today:

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Before each Executive Session, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) puts together a “paper” on each proposal. Each paper includes four main components:

  1. Current law: a summary of the current law on the topic
  2. Governor: overview of what the Governor proposed in his budget request
  3. Discussion Points: facts on the specific program, potential risks with the program, and other topics that the members of JFC should know about before voting
  4. Alternatives: a list of choices for the JFC to vote on including:
    1. Approve the Governor’s budget (make no changes)
    2. Approve the Governor’s budget and add provisions
    3. Delete provisions in the Governor’s budget

This might all sound highly technical so let me give you an easy (and completely fictional) example: cheese

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So the JFC must go through this process for every single topic and as you can imagine it takes quite a bit of time. Over the next month the JFC will meet two or three times a week in Executive Sessions and work their way through the papers. We’ll start to see what the JFC budget will look like when it comes to the Assembly floor and I’ll be sure to keep you updated with the details of each of these votes.


Until next time,