State Budget Update


May 12, 2015

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It’s Tuesday which means that the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) was back in their executive session today. The item that I heard the most about from the constituents of the 94th Assembly District was the cuts to the Educational Communications Board which operates Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) and Wisconsin Public Television (WPT). As discussed below, the Governor originally proposed a much larger cut than what was adopted by the JFC today.

Additionally, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read these updates and reply with their thoughts and concerns. I am always available to answer any questions you might have about the budget process or any particular issues in general.

Without further ado, here is what the JFC voted on today:

Wisconsin Covenant




  • The Governor recommended funding the program, which awards grants to Wisconsin students who attend college in Wisconsin and maintain a B average from 8th grad on, at a level of $31. 3 million.

  • Back in 2011, the Governor chose to not allow any new students to sign up for the program but would continue to award grants to current participants.

  • As a result of this drop in enrollment, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau recommended that the program only needed $21.8 million and the JFC agreed with that recommendation.

Tuition Reciprocity



  • The Governor’s budget would give the UW System control over the agreement that allows Wisconsin and Minnesota students to attend the other’s universities with in-state tuition rates.

  • The JFC co-chairs moved to take up the issue at a later date, at which point they will decide if the state or the university will be able to decide how to use the extra revenue.

  • Democratic members of the JFC introduced a motion to allow people to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates known as the “Higher Ed Lower Debt” act.

  • This motion was defeated on a partisan vote.

Public Radio and Television


  • The Governor’s budget would cut $5 million form the Educational Communications Board, which operates WPT and WPR, Amber alerts and other emergency alerts.

  • The JFC voted to reduce the cuts to $2.3 million to ensure that the alert signals and popular programming would be protected.

Office of State Employment Relations

  • The Governor’s budget proposal would combine the Office of State Employment Relations into the Department of Administration.

  • The JFC approved this measure.

Mental Health

  • The Governor proposed giving $1.5 million in grants to counties to be used for mental health crisis services. This money would come from state-run mental health institutions.

  • The JFC approved that measure.

The JFC will be back on Thursday to debate the budget provisions regarding the Department of Children and Families and Shared Revenue and Tax Relief. By the way, the Assembly will be in session tomorrow to discuss the 70 mph speed limit, drug-testing for welfare recipients, requiring food stamps recipients to eat healthy food and shoreland zoning.





State Representative

94th Assembly District



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