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Find the Latest on JFC Budget Actions Here
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee is anticipated to wrap-up its work on the state budget next week, beginning with a session on Tuesday.  The remaining issues to be considered include medical assistance, income taxes, and remaining items under the Department of Public Instruction, including school aids.
In action to date, the Committee has reduced spending by $310 million, lowered borrowing by $433 million, and eliminated 274 positions. The following are highlights of Committee action this week:
Building Commission
·       Reduce the amount of bonding by $250 million and request the Building Commission to prioritize building projects.
Health Services
·       Authorize the creation of the Office of Children’s Mental Health to improve and coordinate initiatives to provide mental health services to children.
·       Approve additional funding and allow counties to work together in operating coordinated services teams to administer cross-disciplinary care for children.
Children and Families
·       Provide funding for a 2.5% increase in foster care rates and kinship care payments.
Public Instruction
·       Allow school districts to utilize the services of multiple software vendors for maintaining student information.
·       Create a grant program for school districts to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses.
·       Call for a comprehensive evaluation of Common Core State Standards.
Sporting Heritage
·       Direct DNR to utilize a federal grant program to provide $600,000 for efforts to improve outdoor education and the recruitment and retention of sportsmen.
Budget highlights for the week ending May 24th:
     Created a mechanism for local governments to obtain assistance for fixing roads following damage from storms and clean-up efforts.
     Addressed a deficit in the transportation fund without raising taxes or fees.
     Increased aid for local governments for local road projects and for maintaining state highways.
UW System
     Enacted a two year tuition freeze and a freeze on some student fees.
     Delayed flexibility measures until further review of the System’s reserve funds is complete.
     Required the UW System to report to the legislature on how tuition is distributed to each campus and on the fees charged to students to improve transparency.
     Expanded eligibility for veterans to receive funding under the Wisconsin GI Bill by addressing residency requirements.
Department of Justice
     Approved a modified version of enhanced DNA collection from those convicted of misdemeanors or arrested on felony charges.
     Provided additional resources for the Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce.
District Attorneys
      Increased certain part-time assistant district attorney positions to full-time, including one in St. Croix County, to address increasing caseloads.
      Funded a pay progression plan for assistant district attorney positions to improve efforts to retain experienced prosecutors.
Other Provisions
      Increased funding for counties for child support enforcement activities to improve the collection of child support.
      Approved the Governor’s proposal to fund two additional positions to monitor sand mining operations.
      Authorized the option of a high deductible health plan and health savings account option for state employees.
Budget Highlights from the week ending May 17th:
Department of Workforce Development
       Increase the number of work searches from two to four per week required by those receiving unemployment  benefits.
       Provide $150,000 to support the Veterans in Piping program, which provides plumbing and pipefitting apprenticeship opportunities for veterans.
Public Service Commission
       Provide $4.3 million for a grant program to encourage broadband expansion in underserved areas.
Local Government
       Improve reporting of government spending by requiring counties and municipalities over 5,000 in population to participate in the state’s OpenBook initiative.
      Create a program to reimburse local governments that utilize private businesses to establish “lean programs” to maximize the use of taxpayer dollars.
Department of Natural Resources
      Address the rapidly increasing debt service costs associated with the Stewardship program, while preserving the program by adjusting bonding authority.
      Maintain the partnership with Friends of Crex for a wildlife educator at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area.
Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection
      End the diversion of agricultural chemical clean-up funds for other purposes and ensure that fee revenue is used for clean-up programs as intended.
      Increase aid for county fairs by $50,000 annually.
      Preserve funding for the Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program.
Budget highlights from the week ending May 10th:
Property Taxes
      Continue the Property Tax Freeze to protect property taxpayers
      Encourage responsible budgeting by providing flexibility to local governments that pay down debt
Technical Colleges
      Enact performance-based funding initiative to encourage innovation and reward high-performing technical colleges
      Performance funding would be distributed based on a number of criteria including success in job placement for students in their field of study, number of degrees earned in high demand fields, collaboration and efficiencies, and providing courses that are responsive to needs of employers
Veterans Affairs
      Provide funding to Wisconsin Veteran Homes to ensure veterans receive quality care
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
      Ensure compliance with audit recommendations by withholding funding in second year of budget
      Require an annual independent financial audit of the WEDC
      Set aside additional funding to promote Wisconsin and encourage businesses to invest in Wisconsin
Budget highlights from the week ending May 3rd:
Department of Tourism
·       Provide additional $500,000 in state funding for tourism marketing
Department of Veterans Affairs
·       Provide additional $5.3 million in state funding to the Veterans Trust Fund
·       Ensure full funding to honor our passing veterans through military funerals
·       Provide grant funding to increase support for local county veteran service offices
Department of Transportation
·       Increase funding for preservation of freight rail to boost economic development
·       Provide citizens the ability to donate $2 to Donate Life Wisconsin when signing up as an organ donor
·       Strengthen efforts to address drunk driving by maintaining funding for OWI testing and increasing the penalty on OWI offenses
Circus World Museum
·       Removed a provision that would transfer operations of the museum to the Wisconsin Historical Society and preserved the current public-private partnership