PDF of Column


Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
February 15, 2019

Let's Talk Dollars and Ideas

Marklein Announces Budget Listening Sessions

The Senate recently debated the Middle Class Tax Cut on the Senate floor. As a part of this discussion, Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who co-chairs the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), talked about the budget process and how we will be approaching this discussion.  As a member of JFC, the budget cycle is a major part of my role as your State Senator.
As in years past, we are going to receive Governor Evers’ Budget following his budget address. The Governor has tentatively scheduled his address for February 28, 2019.
Once the Governor delivers his address, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) begins their analysis. While the LFB analyzes all of the data and ideas, the JFC takes our committee on the road to conduct hearings throughout the state.  The hearings will likely be held in March and April. We’re not sure where we will be yet, but we usually do at least four hearings. I will share these locations when they are announced.
Following the hearings, the JFC will review the LFB analysis and meet with each of the State Agencies to discuss their priorities. This is tentatively planned for early April. We will ask a lot of questions, seek additional data and take a very close look at past programs, new ideas and ongoing needs.
The LFB will then lay-out the full budget with several different perspectives and options. They will show us the current budget, which is called the Base Budget, the Governor’s Budget and other options that we ask them to lay-out during the process. We use this type of comparative process to design the Legislature’s version of the budget. We will begin to vote in Executive Sessions in May. 
We also have another key date in May when the LFB releases revised estimates of where we will end the current fiscal year and the revised revenue projections for the next biennium. We will take these numbers into consideration as we complete the Legislature’s budget and take our final votes. The budget is due June 30, 2019.
Working from a base budget is the same process that we followed during the last budget with Governor Scott Walker.  We nearly always look at the current budget, the Governor’s recommendations and ideas generated by the legislature to design a final product.
This is where you come in. In addition to the statewide JFC Hearings, I am holding a series of Listening Sessions for residents of the 17th Senate District.  I have scheduled a session in seven of the counties I represent.  The schedule follows:
Friday, March 1 with Rep. Tony Kurtz, 50th Assembly District
9-10 a.m.                     Mauston City Hall Council Chambers
                                    303 Mansion St., Mauston, WI  53948
1-2 p.m.                       Reedsburg City Hall Council Chambers
                                    134 S. Locust Street, Reedsburg, WI  53959
Monday, March 4
10-11 a.m.                   Darlington Municipal Bldg. - Council Room
                                    627 Main St., Darlington, WI  53530
12:30–1:30 p.m.          Monroe Public Library – Upstairs Program Room
                                    925 16th Ave, Monroe, WI  53566
Monday, March 11 with Rep. Travis Tranel, 49th Assembly District
10:30-11:30 a.m.         Schreiner Memorial Library – Community Room Two
                                    113 West Elm St., Lancaster, WI  53813
2-3 p.m.                       Linden Municipal Building – “Senior Citizen Room”
                                    444 Jefferson St., Linden, WI  53553
Monday, March 18 with Rep. Tony Kurtz (50) & Rep. Travis Tranel (49)
10:30-11:30 a.m.         Brewer Public Library – “Story Time Room” in basement
                                    325 N. Central Ave., Richland Center
I hold these Listening Sessions to dedicate time in your community to listen to you. The format for the Listening Sessions are for me to receive your input and ideas. I do not usually discuss the ideas, challenge the ideas or otherwise comment because I want to hear every point-of-view and take all of your input equally.  I also want every attendee to feel comfortable sharing their input.
Depending on the number of people who attend, we may set a time limit for each attendee to share their thoughts (2-3 minutes) so that everyone has a chance to speak. If there are only a few people, we’ll take a more casual approach.
You are always welcome to attend to listen to your neighbors and submit written ideas if you are not comfortable speaking in front of a group. You are also always invited to call, email or write to me at any time to share your thoughts.
If you have a personal issue that is not related to the budget process, my staff will be available to talk with you at the Listening Session.  However, if your issue is complex or will require time to explain and discuss, it may be best to call my office to discuss your issue privately so that we can give your issue enough attention. My team is always ready to help.
Again, the budget cycle is an important time for you to share your ideas and priorities. I look forward to hearing from you. I hope you will be able to join me for a Listening Session in March.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.