Joint Finance Committee Budget Votes: May 23 and 25, June 1

The Joint Committee on Finance (Joint Finance Committee or JFC) of the Wisconsin Legislature continues its work on the 2023-25 state budget, taking votes to reshape the budget as initially proposed by Gov. Tony Evers (D). The committee began the process on May 2 by voting to remove many new programs and significant changes to state law proposed by Gov. Evers.

Alongside the JFC budget process, legislators are working on bills addressing PFAS contamination and shared revenue reform. These bills are expected to be passed alongside the budget bill to implement new programs and policy changes without giving Gov. Evers the opportunity to exercise his partial veto authority, which only applies to appropriations legislation such as the budget bill.

JFC has addressed most budget items by approving an overall or “omnibus” motion for each agency. Most of these motions have been approved 12-4 along party lines, with the committee’s four Democratic members also offering alternative motions that have been rejected by the Republican majority.

June 1

Building Commission, Building Program, and Appropriation Obligation Bonds

  • Motion 87 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 82 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Provides $24 million for bridge projects; provides $9.7 million for trail maintenance projects; approves the Department of Natural Resources’ $6.6 million request to repair the Stewart Tunnel. Funds a variety of building projects at University of Wisconsin System campuses but does not provide the requested $347 million to build a new engineering building at the UW-Madison campus.

Department of Tourism

  • Motion 86 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 84 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Provides $21 million for tourism marketing and advertising; extends project funding for the Office of Outdoor Recreation; grants $2 million to Discover Green Bay to support hosting the 2025 NFL Draft; grants $10 million to Visit MKE to support hosting the Republican National Convention; creates a $10 million opportunity attraction and promotion fund.

Public Service Commission

  • Motion 85 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 83 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: The committee voted not to include the governor’s proposal to spend $750 million in state funds on broadband expansion grants. Wisconsin is expected to receive between $700 million and $1.1 billion in federal funding for broadband expansion under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. During the June 1 meeting, Republican JFC members argued that there is a practical limit to how quickly service providers and contractors can expand broadband service. They concluded that between projects that have already been funded plus the upcoming infusion of federal dollars, broadband expansion in Wisconsin will continue at an acceptable pace over the next two years. The Public Service Commission has estimated that it will cost a total of $1.8 billion to reach its broadband expansion goals.

May 25

Department of Employee Trust Funds

  • Motion 77 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 73 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Department of Revenue

  • Motion 74 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 72 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Extends funding for 38.0 project positions created in 2017 for another two years; provides funding for an advanced technology system to increase delinquent tax collections; increases the lottery fund estimate for shared revenue and tax relief by $95.5 million.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

  • Motion 76 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 69 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Increases the estimate for the economic development fund by $19 million; requires $4 million in spending on talent attraction and retention initiatives including at least $2 million to attract and retain veterans.

The committee also unanimously approved a motion to create a $10 million endowment fund for the WisconsinEye Public Affairs Network, which broadcasts and records legislative floor sessions, committee hearings, and other events at the State Capitol. To access the endowment, the network must raise matching funds, dollar-for-dollar, and would have until June 1, 2025, to do so. Additionally, WisconsinEye would be required to remove its paywall for recordings of public meetings. Currently, live broadcasts of public meetings can be viewed for free, but recordings can only be accessed with a paid subscription.

May 23

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

  • Motion 68 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 62 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Motion 67 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 63 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Department of Workforce Development

  • Motion 61 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 58 (minority), not adopted 4-12
  • Motion 56 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Accounts for $40.8 million in increased federal funding; provides $3 million in additional funding for career and technical education incentive grants; decreases funding for Fast Forward grants by $2 million; provides $500,000 for commercial driver license training grants.

Wisconsin Technical College System and Higher Educational Aids Board

  • Motion 66 (majority), adopted 12-4
  • Motion 59 (minority), not adopted 4-12

Notable provisions: Provides a $9.4 million increase in general aid to technical colleges and $1.3 million to the higher education board for information technology modernization.