May 21 – JFC Reworks Gov. Evers Tourism Budget, Approves State Employee Pay Raises

Under Tourism, JFC voted to add $1.5 million over the biennium in the JFC supplemental appropriation for general tourism marketing. The amount reflects adjustments for Midwest inflation and is an overall 42 percent increase of GPR Tourism Marketing dollars, however significantly less than the $5 million proposed by the governor. The Department of Tourism would have to come back to JFC for approval to use the funding.

The committee approved several of Gov. Evers’s Tourism proposals, but chose to fund them differently. The committee approved the governor’s proposal to move video production at the department in-house, and provided one-time funding of $250,000 GPR for general program operations for supplies and services costs associated with the purchase of video production equipment. However, JFC reduced the Department’s GPR marketing appropriation by $528,000 in 2019-20 and $37,900 in 2020-21 to offset funding provided for video production staff.

JFC also approved the governor’s proposal for a new Office of Outdoor Recreation, but chose to provide one-time funding for the 2019-21 biennium only. The new office is tasked with enhancing the state’s outdoor economy through the promotion of outdoor activities and building partnerships with outdoor-related businesses. Next, JFC scaled down the Office of Marketing Services to one position and continued to fund it through program revenue, instead of eliminating the office and converting one position to GPR as Gov. Evers proposed. The Office of Marketing Services in the Department of Tourism provides and charges state agencies for their services for state agency marketing projects.

JFC took no action on State Aid for Arts, leaving funding for state aid for the Arts Board at $359,300 annually during the 2019-21 biennium.

In the Tourism discussion, committee members highlighted the growing golf industry in Wisconsin, the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee in 2020, Wisconsin’s outdoor recreation tourism industry, and the significant return on investment tourism marketing provides.

Under Budget Management and Compensation Reserves, JFC approved the governor’s proposed 2 percent pay increase but declined to approve a $15 minimum wage for state employees.

JFC then addressed again (see May 9 session) compensation for correctional officers in a motion that would provide a $1.66 hourly pay increase for correctional officers beginning January 2020. Officers at specific institutions that received temporary $5 hourly wage increases under a Gov. Evers directive earlier this month would be ineligible for the $1.66 increase while the $5 increase is in effect. The motion also establishes a long-term service bonus program for protective service positions at the Department of Corrections and Department of Health Services.

The committee then unanimously approved $48,100 GPR for state crime labs pay progression, as proposed by the governor.

Under Corrections, JFC approved an omnibus motion 11-4, which included overtime funding, prison contract bed funding, and funding for reentry programs, among other items.

In the May 21 session, JFC also took up:

Circuit Courts
Court of Appeals
Supreme Court
Judicial Commission