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      Understanding the Budget Process Week by Week

May 15, 2017

 Exec Sessions Continue

 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 Continue

We are in the thick of the budget process right now. The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) continues to hold their executive sessions to vote on proposals in the budget. I’ve included a recap of the last three sessions below but first I wanted to spend a few minutes on the biggest issue in the budget: Transportation.

Right now, we’ve got the Assembly leadership, the Senate leadership and the Governor all at odds over how we are going to solve the $1 billion transportation shortfall. Here is a quick breakdown of their three main positions.  
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Transportation Proposals:


  • Increase taxes on gasoline to help lower state borrowing
    • Reduce the state-mandated minimum price for gasoline
    • Apply the sales tax to all gasoline purchases
  • No $500 million in bonding
  • No borrowing without a plan to pay it off.
  • Wants to ask the federal government to allow tolling on certain highways.
  • Create a flat income tax of 3.95 % over a decade.
  • Eliminate numerous tax credits to make up for the loss of revenue, including the married couple’s tax credit and the renter’s tax credit.
  • Big projects still delayed


  • Continue borrowing but use sales and income tax revenue to pay it off.
  • This funding usually goes to education and health programs
  • No gas tax increase
  • Project delays might be possible.
  • Wants to ask the federal government to allow tolling on certain highways
  • Working to avoid delays on big projects


  • No tax increase
  • Says the Assembly plan is a “massive tax increase”
  • $500 million in bonding
  • Some delays on mega projects but others will go forward.

The JFC already decided to scrap the governor’s proposal and create their own – the problem now is getting everyone to agree. Because of all the disagreement and infighting, the JFC is even considering pulling transportation out of the budget entirely and taking it up as a separate bill. This gives everyone a little more time to figure out a compromise – the fiscal year ends on July 1st. As we move closer to the budget deadline, I’ll do my best to keep you updated with all the new details.

Recap of JFC Executive Session May 11th

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Here are some of the highlights:

Veterans Trust Fund Oversight

  • The JFC voted unanimously to create more legislative oversight over the Veterans Trust Fund.
  • A recent audit found that $55 million was transferred from the veterans home at King and $20 million of maintenance was delayed.

Rural Broadband Expansion

  • The committee voted to increase Rural Broadband Expansion Grants by $14 million and add $2 million each year after that.
  • A similar bill recently passed the Assembly but there were concerns that the grants would not be used for the rural communities that needed the most help creating internet access.

Stray Voltage Program

  • The governor’s budget eliminated a state program designed to help farmers whose cows are affected by stray electrical voltage.
  • The JFC voted to restore the program in the budget

Recap of JFC Executive Session May 9th

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Here are some of the highlights:

Self-Insurance Out

  • Because of the widespread financial uncertainty surrounding the governor’s proposal to self-insure state workers, the JFC co-chairs recently announced that they would be dropping the proposal.
  • The governor’s administration has negotiated self-insurance contracts which were sent to the JFC for review. They have 21 days to review the contracts – but the co-chairs have already said they would reject them.
  • The governor’s proposal counted on $60 million in savings to fund the $649 million increase in K-12 education.
  • The JFC co-chairs are now trying to figure out how to make up that $60 million, either by diverting funds from something else or trying to find savings in the current state employee insurance model.

Lead Pipes

  • The JFC approved the Governor’s proposed $5.8 million to fund lead pipe replacement and other drinking water projects. The money would be borrowed and matched with federal money.

WEDC Loans

  • The JFC voted to allow the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) to resume its lending program. The program had been suspended two years ago after serious problems were uncovered during an audit.

Attorney General Oversight

  • After the controversy of the Attorney General using state money on commemorative coins which read “K.A.E.D.” (which stands for “Kicking Ass Every Day”), the JFC created more oversight of his spending with required regular reports.

Drug Courts and Treatment

  • The JFC increased funding for drug courts and treatment alternative programs by $250,000

Fab Labs

  • Committee members voted to spend $1.4 million over the biennium to create high-tech shops called “Fab Labs” in public schools.

Recap of JFC Executive Session May 1st

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Here are some of the highlights:

Judicial Commission and Judicial Council

  • Governor: proposed to eliminate both oversight groups.
  • JFC: rejected the governor’s proposal.

Employment Relations Commission

  • Governor: reduced the number of commissioners from three to one. This commission administers labor relations law in Wisconsin.
  • JFC: Passed the governor’s proposal with a few tweaks, including a requirement for senate confirmation of the one commissioner.

Aging and Long-Term Care, IRIS Ombudsman

  • Governor: created four ombudsman positions (similar to the ombudsman for IRIS participants under 60 and Family Care participants over 60) for IRIS participants over 60 years old.
  • JFC: on a party line vote, the committee voted to cut the number of positions down to two.

This week, the JFC will be back to meet on Tuesday and Thursday. Here is a quick rundown of their expected topics:

Tuesday, May 16th

  • Elections Commission
  • Ethics Commission
  • Department of Administration
  • Department of Health Services
  • Department of Children and Families

Tuesday, May 18th

  • Wisconsin Technical College System
  • Historical Society
  • Property Taxation
  • Shared Revenue


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,