Despite Surplus Walker Directs Agencies to Cut Costs

Gov. Walker has directed agencies to submit their 2013-2015 budget cycle requests by September 17, 2012. Wisconsin’s biennial state budget sets the financial parameters for virtually all state programs over the two-year budget cycle.

Walker’s directions included a discussion of his goals as governor, and a specific directive that “most agencies…maintain their overall fiscal year 2013-14 and fiscal year 2014-15 GPR budgets at the fiscal year 2012-13 adjusted base levels minus the statutory and discretionary lapses.”

Based on the budget directions, the Governor’s priorities for the coming years are job creation, developing the workforce and generally improving education, investing in infrastructure, and reforming government to be more transparent and efficient.

To achieve these goals while also maintaining zero-growth spending will be challenging. As such, agencies are directed to “use this exercise to fundamentally review missions and priorities, exploring opportunities to reallocate resources, integrate programs and consolidate functions.”

“Exceptions [to the zero-growth goal] will occur only for K-12 school aids; required basic cost-to-continue needs for the state’s institutions, i.e., the Department of Corrections and the Department of Health Services institutions; entitlement and related assistance programs in the Department of Health Services (e.g., Medical Assistance), the Department of Children and Families’ Division of Safety and Permanence, and the Department of Workforce Development’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation; and housekeeping adjustments like standard budget adjustments, fuel and utilities, and debt service.”

The directions also informed the University of Wisconsin System, the Department of Justice, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Workforce Development and the Office of State Employment Relations that they do not have to factor in the additional lapse amounts required in this cycle into their future budget plans. All other agencies that had lapse amounts must subtract that amount from their base for the next cycle.

Once agency requests have been submitted, the administration will craft a bill incorporating requests it deems feasible to submit to the legislature in January.