JFC to Begin Budget Votes Next Week

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will meet for its first executive session of the 2019-21 state budget process on May 9. JFC will begin by removing a list of items from Gov. Tony Evers’s proposed budget, then taking up 15 relatively non-controversial agency sections.

A letter from JFC co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) states they plan to work off of the current budget, not Evers’s. Any provisions of the governor’s budget would need to be re-added by a majority vote of the committee. As was the committee’s standard process in previous biennia, committee members may also bring forward other individual motions to change provisions in the budget. Committee members will have the standard 10 minutes for debate on each motion.

The co-chairs’ letter says JFC will begin the May 9 session by taking up a motion to remove 131 fiscal and policy provisions from Evers’s budget proposal. Typically, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) provides JFC with a list of non-fiscal policy items, and the committee removes most policy proposed by the governor at the beginning of the voting process. JFC is veering from the standard process by pulling out not only these policy items but also several additional fiscal items.

This year, LFB provided a list of 71 non-fiscal policy items. According to the co-chairs this is the second highest amount of non-fiscal policy in a governor’s proposal since 2001. LFB has also identified $83.5 million in earmarks to specific beneficiaries (see p. 11 of the co-chairs’ letter). JFC members may remove earmarks by motion with either a majority or tie vote.

The items to be removed from the budget next week include:


  • Medicaid expansion.
  • Repeal of requirements under the BadgerCare Reform waiver, including work requirements, premium payments, a health risk assessment, nonemergency use copays and a health savings account.
  • Eliminating copayments for Medicaid enrollees.
  • Repeal of the Medicaid health savings account program.
  • Repeal of changes from the recent extraordinary session requiring JFC oversight if the Department of Health Services seeks an amendment to the state’s Medical Assistance plan or a change to the reimbursement rate for making a supplemental payment to a provider under the Medical Assistance program with an expected fiscal effect of more than $7,500,000 from all revenue sources over a 12-month period.
  • Repeal of welfare drug testing requirements and JFC approval of reallocation of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funds. Both of these provisions were put in statute by the 2018 extraordinary session legislation.
  • Regulating pharmacy benefit managers.
  • Guaranteeing access to coverage, requiring every health insurance policy to cover every individual, prohibiting plans from imposing pre-existing conditions exclusions, prohibiting plans from setting premiums based on health status-related factors, and prohibiting lifetime or annual limits on benefits.
  • Medical marijuana legalization.
  • Creating a dental therapists license.

Civil Justice

  • Restoring a private individual’s ability to bring a qui tam claim against a person who makes a false claim against the state.
  • Repeal of provisions of extraordinary session legislation 2017 Act 369 including:
    • The requirement that the legislature approve certain settlements and legal actions by the attorney general.
    • The ability of the legislature to intervene in lawsuits involving the state.
    • The ability of the legislature to obtain outside legal counsel.
    • The definition and public transparency requirements for agency guidance documents.
    • The requirement that agencies cite statutes supporting any interpretation of law they publicly provide.
    • The ability of the Joint Committee for Review on Administrative Rules to suspend rules multiple times.


  • The transfer of worker’s compensation functions from the Department of Administration Division of Hearings and Appeals to the Department of Workforce Development.
  • Unemployment insurance and family and medical leave provisions.
  • Minimum wage increase.
  • Restoring the prevailing wage law for state and local projects of public works.
  • Repeal of the “right to work” law, which prohibits labor unions and employers from entering into private agreements regarding the use of unionized workers on a project.
  • Permitting project labor agreements for public works projects.
  • Repeal of preemption of local government ordinances regarding family and medical leave, wage claims, employee benefits, hours of work and overtime, and solicitation of prospective employees’ salary histories.

Economic Development

  • Increasing the Broadband Expansion Grant Program at the Public Service Commission and creating a statutory broadband speed goal of 25 megabits per second download by 2025.
  • Repeal of 2018 extraordinary session legislation provisions modifying the composition of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.


  • Establishing a statutory goal that all electricity generated in Wisconsin be 100 percent carbon free by 2050.
  • Establishing an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy.
  • Requiring the Public Service Commission to submit a report on the Focus on Energy program to the governor, not JFC, for review.


  • Repeal of the minimum markup on motor fuel.

Criminal Justice

  • Raising the age of adult jurisdiction in courts to from 17 to 18 years.
  • Decriminalizing 25 grams or less of marijuana.


  • Providing $40 million in general obligation bonding for the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program and requiring the Department of Administration to allocate funds for forgivable loans to private owners with lead service lines.


  • Limits on the Manufacturing and Agriculture Credit.
  • Limits on the current 30 percent long-term capital gains exclusion to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes below $100,000 for individuals and $150,000 for married-joint filers.
  • Requiring property to be assessed at its “highest and best use” and removing vacant properties, or “dark stores,” as comparable sales for the purposes of property tax assessment, thus allowing assessors to value occupied property more solely because of its occupancy.


  • Sunset private school tuition deduction.
  • Transferring the Office of School safety to the Department of Public Instruction.
  • Rollbacks of voucher school programs.
  • Eliminating the restriction on the number of referenda school districts may hold in a year.
  • In-state tuition at UW for undocumented immigrants.

Following the removal of the Evers budget items, JFC will take up sections including the Ethics Commission, Historical Society, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State of Wisconsin Investment Board, Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, Department of Health Services Care and Treatment Services, and Department of Revenue.