Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

May 5, 2023

The Train Has Left the Station

The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) took our first votes of the State Budget process on Tuesday, May 2, 2023. The train has left the station. These votes included the removal of non-fiscal and other policy items that will not be part of the budget discussion. We returned to the bipartisan Base Budget that the Governor signed two years ago and adopted Standard Budget Adjustments, sum sufficient appropriation estimates and debt service for appropriation obligation bonds.
These actions set our starting line – the current, bi-partisan base budget that the Governor signed two years ago. We also voted on a list of 545 items from the Governor’s list of ideas that we will not be discussing during the budget process.  The Governor signed our last two budgets without these items.  Most of these items are policy that should be done as stand-alone bills and go through the full legislative process.
It is very important to note that the items we removed from consideration are not “cuts”. They are not part of the current budget. In fact, this list includes 145 items that the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) deemed non-fiscal policy. There were also many new programs and new spending that have not been through any sort of legislative process or discussion. Approximately 215 of these items were repeat ideas that the Governor included in 2021-2023 and we removed them for the second time. At least 57 items were removed for a third time!
Following these steps, we completed our work on 13 agencies that received standard budget adjustments to keep operating at their current level. This list included smaller agencies such as the Court of Appeals, the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board and State Fair Park.
On Thursday, May 4, 2023, we allocated $2 million to take care of kids and families by providing resources for the most vulnerable people in our state.  We provided $1 million to expand services at Family Resource Centers statewide for prevention of child abuse and neglect. We also spent $1 million to expand the Positive Parenting Program (PPP) through the Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Board (CANPB). This is a program that provides support and coaching to parents and families. Our investment expands the reach of this effective program to at least 1,000 new families.
We also made real investments in mental health by building capacity in a proven program at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW).  The Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Residency Program is a pipeline for mental health providers. We allocated $7 million, which will support at least 10 psychiatrist residents per year statewide.
Finally, we provided funding and flexibility to support the core services of government. We reorganized some positions to right-size staffing and provided position authority to meet evolving needs at some agencies. We also provided funding for several technology upgrades to make sure our state agencies are efficient and effective. We used one-time money to invest in technology that will be used for years. This kind of work will be a staple part of our work throughout the state budget process.
We completed our work on an additional 12 agencies including the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care, Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Ethics Commission, the Department of Financial
Institutions (DFI), the Historical Society and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Again, the train has left the station and we are on our way through the state budget process. Please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703. I want to hear from you.