JFC Chairs Set Ground Rules and Remove Non-Fiscal Budget Items

Before Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) kicked off voting this week, JFC chairs, Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) issued a memo on the budget procedures for the budget vote process. The memo included a list of 14 non-fiscal policy items that the chairs have determined will not be addressed in the budget and should be taken up as separate legislation.

Last week, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau generated a memo that identified 49 non-fiscal items in the budget. The co-chairs only included 14 of these in their memo, leaving the remaining 35 items identified by LFB to be considered by JFC. One of the most notable items removed by the JFC co-chairs is the provision to make the Natural Resources Board an advisory council. In addition, the JFC co-chairs removed the governor’s proposal to have the counties, rather than municipalities conduct property assessments, and a provision that exempted University of Wisconsin System research and studies from the open records statute.

Rep. Nygren and Sen. Darling’s memo noted the LFB met the requirement to produce the Earmark Transparency Report before voting begins. The report noted widely reported budget items such as funding for the Milwaukee Bucks Arena ($220 million) and the Eau Claire Confluence Development Project ($15 million). Any item in the Earmark Transparency Report can be deleted, if a motion is made and passed by a majority or a tie vote.

Budget Errata Submitted

In the flurry of memos this week, the governor’s budget office (housed in the Department of Administration) released a technical errata report. The 110-page document included technical adjustments to the governor’s budget that were intended to be in the original budget bill.

In addition to the lengthy budget errata report, DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel sent the JFC co-chairs a memo requesting conceptual changes to be added it the governor’s budget. The Secretary states in his memo that the changes will equate to a $2.8 million net decrease to the general fund. Some of the conceptual changes outlined included a provision to restore the Wisconsin Idea, a cap on in-state undergraduate tuition tied to the Consumer Price Index, and a request to not broaden the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit to include nonagricultural property.