The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) met on April 17 and April 22 to continue voting on Governor Walker’s proposed 2015-2017 state budget. JFC passed a number of motions, which modified the governor’s proposed budget. This includes action on portions of agency budgets in the Department of Military Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Commission of Insurance, Board on Aging and Long Term Care, Department of Health Services (DHS), State Historical Society, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Fish, Wildlife and Recreation portion of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The highlights of these motions are detailed below.
JFC did not meet this past week and is waiting for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau’s updated revenue estimates to be released, which could be as early as this Monday. The governor and many legislators have stated any additional projected revenue would first be appropriated to K-12 education aid.
JFC Executive Action Highlights
Department of Military Affairs – Military Property Program (1033)
Under the Military Property Program, or 1033 program, excess equipment from the military is transferred to eligible local and state law enforcement agencies. The governor’s proposal provided a small funding increase ($97,000) and a decrease in federal dollars to covert funding for a position related to the program from federally funded (FED) to general purpose revenue (GPR). Representative Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) made a joint motion to add new processes for state or local law enforcement to participate in the program. The motion passed JFC unanimously.
The provision does the following:
- Require that state or local law enforcement receive approval from the appropriate state or local entity to acquire weapons and machines under the 1033 program. Policies must be developed as when weapons, machines or parts of the weapons/machines may be utilized by law enforcement.
- Require law enforcement to report on the use of weapons or machines (or parts) obtained under the 1033 program within 14 days of use. Report must include the circumstances of use.
- Require appropriate state/local approval entity to develop policies that would specify the appropriate use of equipment acquired under the 1033 program. In addition, developed policies will need to include the process if equipment is utilized inappropriately.
- Require that state or local law enforcement agencies requesting to obtain equipment under 1033 program to publish a notice of such request on a publicly available website within 14 days of submitting request and require state or local law enforcement agency to report on the receipt of any items on the same website within 14 days.
Kickapoo Valley Reserve and Lower WI State Riverway Board
JFC voted unanimously to delete the governor’s recommendation, which proposed to move administrative attachments of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve/Kickapoo Reserve Management Board from the Department of Tourism to the DNR. JFC’s action also changed the Kickapoo Valley Reserve/Kickapoo Reserve Management Board to be budgeted as a separate agency, providing additional autonomy for the Board. In addition, JFC determined that the biennial budget requests as determined by the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board are to be forwarded by the DNR without change.
JFC voted to make the Lower WI State Riverway Board to be administratively attached to DNR and require its biennial budget requests are to be forwarded without change, unless changes are agreed to by Lower WI State Riverway Board.
Department of Tourism – Marketing Earmarks
Governor Walker’s budget proposed to repeal the Department of Tourism’s earmarks and delete $475,000 tribal gaming program revenue (PR) annually for tourism marketing. However, Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) offered a motion, which passed unanimously, that would restore the funding but would repeal the marketing earmarks effective July 1, 2017. Also, Tourism would be required to conduct a study of (1) statewide benefits of marketing earmarks currently enacted and implemented; and (2) possible alternative marketing expenditures to use with the funds. The study must be submitted to JFC by January 1, 2017.
Department of Natural Resources – Car-Killed Deer Appropriations
The governor’s budget proposed to repeal the appropriations ($701,400 annually, 50 percent provided through GPR and 50 percent provided through funds from the fish and wildlife account) for the removal and disposal of car-killed deer from highways. JFC voted unanimously for a motion put forth by Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Darling to provide $701,400 forestry segregated revenue (SEG) on a one-time basis in fiscal years 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 to administer the program. The motion also adds a provision that requires DNR to submit a report on the program to determine cost effectiveness, and allows a person to take possession of the carcass of a car-killed deer, subject to certain DNR rules.
The Week Ahead
JFC is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, May 5. The agency budgets the committee will consider are:
- DHS – Public Health and Other Programs
- Office of the Governor
- Office of the Lt. Governor
- District Attorneys
- Public Defender
- DNR – Environmental Quality
- UW System – Environmental Management Appropriations