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Behind the Scenes of the State Budget
week the State Capitol was a little quiet compared to the last
several months of activity. As we await the new state revenue
numbers that are expected during the first week of May, the
Joint Finance Committee (JFC) took a short break to work on
motions, study our budget papers and prepare for non-stop budget
work in May.
look toward the next several weeks, I thought it might be
helpful to tell you about the “Behind the Scenes” happenings of
the State Budget. Most residents of our state see very little of
this complicated process that has huge impacts on each and every
life in our state. I hope the following overview is helpful in
your understanding of the process. You have a very important
role to play!
The state budget is based on a two-year cycle, called a
biennium, stretching from July 1 of odd-numbered years through
June 30 of the next odd-numbered year. The current budget
(passed in June, 2013) lasts from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2015.
The budget we are currently working on will be in effect from
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2017.
The current budget process statred during the fall of 2014. Late
last year, all of the state agencies determined their funding
and staffing needs for the next biennium. They also worked on
major administrative and policy changes that have a fiscal
element, which could be included in the budget proposal.
The requests and recommendations from each agency were submitted
to the Governor. The Governor and his team analyzed all of the
requests and ideas in combination with other priorities and
In February, the Governor introduced his budget to the
legislature and gave his biannual Budget Address, in which he
described many big-picture priorities and initiatives.
Once the budget was introduced, the bill was referred to the JFC
for initial legislative consideration. As a member of this
committee, I have the unique opportunity to make legislative
changes to the budget.
The JFC receives a lot of education and input as we review the
budget in its entirety. Since February, we have had agency
briefings, in which each agency presents their budget and
answers questions from legislators. The non-partisan Legislative
Fiscal Bureau (LFB) also provides an objective overview of the
budget proposal and answers hundreds of questions with amazing
depth. The LFB is an awesome resource!
As many of you know, we held public listening sessions in each
of our districts individually and four state-wide public
hearings in locations throughout Wisconsin, including one in
Each of us has been seeking input from stakeholders, citizens
and leaders in our districts about specific topics and inviting
our constituents to provide feedback with their concerns. We
have sought input from experts and studied the bill in great
Once the public hearings were concluded, all members of the
legislature started working on Budget Motions. Motions are our
opportunity to make changes to the Governor’s proposal. Each
member of the JFC is paired with other legislators who do not
sit on the committee. These are our “Budget Buddies” and we work
with them to sponsor motions, move them through the process and
offer our support during Executive Sessions.
I have authored more than 10 motions to address specific issues
in the state budget. These motions span from reinstating the
Wisconsin Fund for private septic systems to changing the
licensing requirements for antique and vintage tractors. As
these motions move through the process, I will highlight them in
this column and via my weekly E-Update. To see what we have
accomplished already, please visit my website and click on
“State Budget Update”.
The next step in the process is a series of Executive Sessions.
Executive Sessions are formal, public meetings during which the
JFC and LFB discuss each piece of the budget and vote on
specific changes presented in motions. We are able to weigh
different options and find the best path forward both fiscally
and for the benefit of the people of Wisconsin. Keep in mind
that every change we make has a fiscal impact and we must
balance additions with reductions in order to produce a balanced
We will be in Executive Sessions nearly every Tuesday and
Thursday throughout May until the budget is finished. We have
already had three Executive Sessions in April.
Between Executive Sessions, members of the JFC work with our
budget buddies and within workgroups to finalize ideas before
they are brought for formal votes. There is a lot of discussion,
study and research that occurs as each part of the budget is
Once the Executive Sessions are completed, the JFC will submit
their version of the budget to the full legislature for a vote.
This year, the bill, Senate Bill (SB) 21 will go to the Senate
first. Once the Senate approves it, it will be sent to the
Assembly. If the Assembly passes it without changes, it will go
to Governor Scott Walker for his signature. Our goal is to
complete this process by late June. The Governor can veto all or
part of the budget and his vetoes can be overridden by a 2/3
vote of both houses of the legislature.
As your State Senator, I am honored to be a part of the JFC and
to have an important role in the future of our state. Even
though we are well into the budget process, I welcome your
input, ideas and concerns. Your personal experiences and ideas
are a very important part of this process.
more information and to connect
with me, visit my website
not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or
need assistance with any state-related matters.
In the District
UW-Platteville MBA Students from Nigeria Visit the
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with MBA students from
Nigeria who are attending UW-Platteville. Lagos Business School
(LBS) is the first institution in tropical Africa offering
international classes in a continuous and stable way. The
school, located in the cosmopolitan city of Lagos, delivers
executive programs at top and middle management levels aimed at
systematically improving the practice of general management in
Nigeria. Executive education at LBS is comprehensive, drawing
from the experiences of multinational faculty and participants.
Visiting with students from Lagos Business
School (LBS) attending UW-Platteville
Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund
The Wisconsin Legislature created the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship
Program in 1989 to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife
habitat and expand opportunities for Wisconsinites to
participate in outdoor recreation. These goals are achieved
primarily through borrowing for the acquisition of land and
providing local assistance for stewardship efforts through the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
According to the DNR, publicly owned land for conservation now
makes up 17 percent of all land in Wisconsin, and totals nearly
6 million acres. The Stewardship Program has acquired 627,600
acres of land in its 25 year existence. Over the past ten years
$586 million in bonds were approved for Stewardship. Annual debt
service on those bonds is rising fast. Currently, the state
spends $1.6 million every week to repay this debt.
In the past ten years state General Purpose Fund Revenue (GPR)
money going to debt payments through Stewardship has risen from
$5.2 million to over $81 million per year. Without changes, the
fund is expected to continue running exceedingly high debt
In addition, since 1992, when the DNR acquires land the
Department is required to pay aids to municipalities roughly
equal to what would have been collected in property tax on the
land. These are commonly referred to as payments in lieu of
taxes (PILT). The PILT payments are intended to make school districts,
counties, and municipalities “whole” as a result of the property
coming off the tax rolls. These payments have also been rising
quickly over the past ten years, further depleting the DNR of
funds. Combined, debt service and tax payments now take up
nearly 80% of GPR funds allocated to the DNR.
The following table shows the total segregated funds, GPR
(General Purpose Fund Revenue), total Debt Payment, and Property
in Lieu of Tax Payments (PILT), and the Total Tax and Debt
Payments over the last several years.
Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Payments
||Total Tax & Debt
*Source: DNR, Office of Management and Budget
Revenue Numbers: March 2015
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) recently released a
report detailing the general purpose revenue (GPR) taxes
collected by the agency for the month of March. Year to date
collections are for the first nine months of the fiscal year,
which ends June 30, 2015.
Revenue Collections, March FY2015
|General Sales & Use
*Source: Department of Revenue
*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this
legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State
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