Lawmakers Condemn Non-Fiscal Items 'Snuck' Into Budget Bill

By Danielle Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio

Some Wisconsin lawmakers from both parties are taking issue with the number of non-fiscal policy items that were introduced as part of the state budget bill. Not all made the final cut, but some are arguing that the remaining items should be pulled out.

A memo prepared for Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau identifies 157 non-fiscal policy items that were introduced by Gov. Scott Walker or the Joint Finance Committee. Of them, 139 still remain in the budget. Green Bay Republican Sen. Robert Cowles said he sent a letter to the governor asking him to veto all of them.
"These are being snuck into the budget in order to get it done in a way that couldn’t otherwise get done," said Cowles
Cowles said it’s caused people to grow cynical of lawmakers.
Ashland Democratic Sen. Janet Bewley agreed.
"The requirement of people who are elected to office is to behave responsibly … and not insert ideology or not be ideologically driven," Bewley said.

Republican Cowles said the items should receive more public input and review by lawmakers.

Stevens Point Democrat Rep. Katrina Shankland said she is working on a bill that would require such a review.
"That’s exactly why it’s important to at least at a bare minimum require a public hearing and a vote because it allows members of the public to not only have their voices heard but also to hold legislators accountable," she said.

Shankland is currently seeking sponsors for the bill.