Legislature Passes State Budget

The Wisconsin Legislature passed its version of the 2019-21 state budget on Wednesday, June 26, sending the budget to Gov. Tony Evers for review. The budget largely adopts provisions approved by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), along with an amendment that adjusts language to make it more difficult for Gov. Evers to use his line-item veto authority to change provisions. (For example, “may not” is changed to “cannot” in several instances. The governor’s line-item veto allows him to veto entire words, but not individual letters.) The governor can delete or reduce appropriations, but not increase them. Gov. Evers has not yet indicated how he will act on the budget.

In addition to making it more difficult for Gov. Evers to exercise his partial-veto authority and minor adjustments to several appropriations, the amendment,

  • Provides an additional $5 million for transportation aids to towns in the biennium.
  • Allows counties to apply to the Building Commission for grants for other private construction projects. The budget initially provided this opportunity only to municipalities.
  • Adjusts borrowing authority for the Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson stewardship program, clean water fund program, safe drinking water loan program, and other Department of Natural Resources pollution abatement programs.
  • Requires full Legislature approval for implementing a mileage-based fee for transportation. The original substitute amendment allowed JFC to unilaterally approve a mileage-based fee after the study. Under the amendment to the JFC budget, the Department of Transportation will submit reports on mileage-based fees and tolling to the full Legislature.
  • Exempts dealers of new vehicles that are not franchised and manufacturers who produce solely electric cars from certain provisions of the Wisconsin dealership law. The provision allows car manufacturer Tesla to sell vehicles directly to consumers instead of through a separate dealership as required under current law.
  • Adds 35 assistant district attorney positions to the JFC budget and increases funding for a one-step pay progression increase for district attorneys.
  • Removes the tax on vapor products from the tobacco products tax and instead taxes vapor products separately.
  • Changes funding for Next Generation 911 from annual to biennial appropriations funded in the first year of the biennium.
  • Removes provisions requiring additional JFC oversight of Foodshare Employment & Training program funding.
  • Removes provisions in the Minority Health Grants program that would have given priority to applicants who provide maternal and child health services.
  • Increases state funding for rural hospitals.

Full LFB summary of the amendment.

The Assembly passed the budget 60-39, largely along party lines. The Republicans voting no were: Reps. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger) and Timothy Ramthun (R-Campbellsport). All Democrats voted no.

In the Senate, the bill passed 17-16, with Sens. David Craig (R-Big Bend) and Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) voting no.

Click below for summaries of relevant budget provisions by agency. Unless noted, the provisions approved by JFC remain in the budget as passed by the Legislature.


Key provisions of Gov. Evers’s budget removed

Shared revenue and tax relief *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Environmental Improvement Fund *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Property taxes *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Department of Military Affairs *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Department of Workforce Development


Department of Corrections

Department of Corrections – correctional staff pay raises

Education *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

District attorneys and public defenders *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

University of Wisconsin System

Department of Health Services *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Department of Children & Families

Transportation *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Volkswagen settlement

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

Department of Justice

Public Service Commission

Public Services Commission – Wholesale merchant grants

Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection

Department of Natural Resources – Stewardship program, state parks, etc.

Department of Natural Resources – PFAS

Building projects *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

Budget Management & Compensation Reserves – Budget bill provision

Budget Management & Compensation Reserves – State employee salaries

Taxes *Amended by Amendment 1 to JFC Substitute Amendment

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