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      Understanding the Budget Process Week by Week

March 12, 2019


 State Rep. Steve Doyle

State Capitol
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

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


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The budget process has officially begun.

The Governor, having recently given his budget address to a joint session of the Senate and Assembly, has kicked off the budget process..

The budget bill, introduced in each house as Assembly Bill 56 and Senate Bill 59, is 1148 pages long. The plain English analysis by the Department of Administration (DOA) is 121 pages long. Even after receiving the initial briefings on this massive document, my colleagues and I are just starting to understand exactly what it contains.

Here are some things we do know:

Basic Numbers

  • Total Budget: $83.4 billion.
  • Total tax and fee cuts: $951.4 million.
  • Total spending growth: $7.3 billion.  

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  • Invests $1.4 billion in K-12 education over the next two years.
  • Increases spending on special education funding by $600 million over the biennium to reimburse 30% of special education costs in 2020, and 60% of costs in 2021.
  • Improves access to mental health programs in schools by increasing funding five-fold. 

Higher Education

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  • Increases UW System funding by $150 million while continuing the resident undergraduate tuition freeze.
  • Increases funding by $18 million for tech colleges.
  • Increases funding by $17.3 million for need-based grants for students.
  • Creates a study group comprised of the Secretary of the department of Financial Institutions, the State Treasurer, and the executive secretary of the Higher Educational Aids Board to study creating a state-run student loan refinancing authority..

Health Care

  • Expands Medicaid to cover 82,000 more Wisconsinites while saving more than $300 million taxpayer dollars.
  • Creates a prescription drug cost review system to address rising costs of prescriptions.
  • Legalizes medical marijuana.


  • Invests $6.6 billion into transportation and infrastructure.
  • Increases general transportation aids to counties, cities, villages, and towns to the highest level they have ever been.


  • Restores prevailing wage law for state and local projects of public works.
  • Restores Project Labor Agreements, which allow labor unions and employers to enter into private agreements. 


  • Cuts income taxes by 10% for middle income earners, with the average qualified individual receiving a $217 deduction per year. 
  • Expands the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Enhances the Homestead Credit to provide increased relief to low-income earners.

One thing to note: the Governor’s plan is just the beginning. As a lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle are noting, this plan is a starting point and a work in progress. We expect almost every single provision to change in some way by the time the Legislature votes on it this summer. 

What happens next:

Now that the budget bill has been formally introduced, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) will begin their work turning this proposal into a document that the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) can debate. Each item and expenditure will be taken apart piece by piece and voted on by this powerful committee. Once they have finished, the bill will go to the Assembly and Senate where my colleagues and I will have the chance to vote on it.

As we are still learning about the provisions contained within this budget, I will continue to send out updates like this one to keep you informed about our deliberations. And I hope that you will reach out to me with your thoughts and concerns as the budget process begins.




State Representative
94th Assembly District