Last week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held their second – and last – week of public hearings on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2017-19 state budget. The first public hearings took place on April 3, 5 and 7. JFC heard from agency heads at the Capitol on March 28-30. They begin votes in executive session Monday.
The last three hearings highlighted many of the same concerns from the first week of hearings. Citizens from across the state continued to express to JFC members concerns about broadband expansion, transportation funding and education, among other issues.
The fourth JFC public hearing was held in Spooner on April 18. 120 people registered to speak on the needs of northern Wisconsin, including concerns about dementia care specialists funding, conservation funding to fight water pollution, K-12 education and funding for UW-Superior and UW-Stout. Several people also testified about the proposed Forestry Mill Tax changes. Lawmakers also heard testimony from school administrators who spoke on the need for transportation aids and broadband expansion in rural areas.
The fifth day of public hearings was held in Ellsworth on April 19. Testimony again focused on K-12 per-pupil aid, UW-funding, transportation aids and environmental issues. Citizens asked for more funding for personal care, treatment and development programs and broadband expansion, among other needs.
The final day of public hearings was held in Marinette on April 21. Main focuses of the final hearing, similar to others, were education and dementia care specialists funding. Citizens also spoke on regional issues like the open pit sulfide mine near Marinette, access to healthcare, digital literacy and broadband access.
JFC will begin executive sessions next week and will continue throughout May. Click here for more on what could be the biggest sticking points within the budget executive sessions.