Budget Hearings Begin

The first of four Joint Finance Committee (JFC) public hearings for Governor Walker’s proposed state budget for 2015-2017 were held on Wednesday at Brillion High School, located east of Appleton. The hearing began at 10 a.m. and over 200 people registered to testify on a variety of issues.

While much of the public’s testimony focused on education for K-12, many supporters of Wisconsin’s long term care option, called IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) spoke about proposed cuts to the budget.

On the same day as the hearing, JFC co-chair Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and JFC member Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) announced their plan for reforming the UW System. Gov. Walker’s plan for the UW includes increased autonomy in exchange for a $300 million cut over two years, but Nygren and Knudson’s plan drastically changes the governor’s proposal.

In the new plan, the UW System would not be turned into a public authority, although some flexibilities would still be granted. Also, the $300 million cut would be drastically decreased to a smaller cut, and the System would be expected to spend some of its reserves. Finally, out-of-state and graduate student tuition would increase.

Other topics discussed at the public hearing include, (as reported from The Wheeler Report):

  • GAB IT services

  • Career Pathway funding

  • TAD funding

  • Domestic Abuse Services funding

  • Tobacco Prevention funding

  • Wisconsin Public Radio and Television funding

  • UW System funding

  • DNR Scientists positions

  • BadgerCare

  • SeniorCare

  • Family Care

  • Transportation funding

  • Harbor Assistance funding

  • Changing the DNR Board to an Advisory Council

  • UW System Authority

  • Changes to property assessments

  • Heroin and drug abuse and prevention programs

The second of four official public hearings is being held today, March 20th, at Alverno College in Milwaukee. The other public hearings are scheduled for:

March 23, 2015 at University of Wisconsin-Barron County, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

March 26, 2015 at Reedsburg High School, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.