Over the years, Governors and both political parties have inserted limited public policy into the fiscal budget. Almost always, it is because legislators want to achieve a public policy outcome but avoid having to take a vote that would be unpopular with voters. Governor Doyle introduced his budget in February 2009 with approximately 80 different non-fiscal policy provisions. Many of the policy changes resulted in major and controversial shift in state law. Many people object to policy items in the budget bill that do not get the public scrutiny they deserve when included in the budget.
I asked people in our region to respond to an online poll to share their opinion on policy in the budget and 88% said the practice should be abolished. I supported a budget amendment that would have removed ALL policy and suggested they instead be drafted as separate bills for full consideration by the legislature. The amendment failed.
Due to public outcry a number of policy items were removed from the final budget bill. Those include changes to liability laws, use value assessment of agriculture land and red-light traffic cameras. However, about three dozen policy provisions remained in the bill. Those include a prevailing wage expansion, car insurance mandates and more.
Policy items approved by the legislature:
See policy items approved from the Governor's proposal
See policy items added to the Governor’s budget proposal