Wisconsin operates under a biennial budget, meaning the legislature passes a budget every other year. The budget process begins in the fall of each even year, when state agencies submit their budget requests to the governor and the Department of Administration.
The Department of Administration’s State Budget Office develops a budget based on the governor’s agenda and agencies’ requests. The governor then presents his budget to the state legislature for its consideration.
Once the governor’s budget bill is introduced, typically in January or February of each odd year, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau will take 3-4 weeks to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the bill for the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). Starting in mid-March, JFC will schedule committee hearings and invite selected agency heads to appear and testify before the committee on their respective agency budgets. Public hearings on the bill are then held in 3-5 locations throughout the state, starting in March and completed by mid-April.
After the agency and public hearings, JFC begins meeting several days each week through the end of May to take votes on various aspects of the bill. At the end of the JFC budget process, all JFC modifications to the governor’s bill are incorporated in a substitute amendment and sent to the full legislature for floor votes in each house.
The legislature generally takes the bill up in June and sends their final product to the governor by the end of the month. The governor completes veto review within 30 days of receiving the bill, and then signs it into law.