The governor’s budget proposed to change the broadband expansion grants appropriation from a continuing appropriation to a biennial appropriation and authorizes the use of the universal serve fund revenues to fund the grant program. Currently, grant expenditures of up to $500,000 annually from a continuing appropriation, but the governor’s proposal would set the appropriation amount at $6 million biennially.
Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) modified the governor’s proposal and allocated $1.5 million each year for four years, until 2018-19, on top of providing $6 million out of the universal service fund for broadband projects.
The governor’s budget proposed to increase expenditure authority of the Public Service Commission’s appropriation of the state broadband office by $250,000 PR annually. JFC moved to only increase expenditure authority by $125,000, instead of the governor’s proposed $250,000 increase.
Expansion of Wisconsin Fast Forward
The governor’s budget included a proposal to expand the Wisconsin Fast Forward program, which is administered by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). The governor’s proposal reallocated $3 million GPR annually from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to DWD, to eliminate the DPI funding for grants to school districts for career and technical education. Under the governor’s proposal, DWD would be given the flexibility to administer a career and technical education incentive grants programs to provide grants to school districts for programs that focus on mitigating industry workforce shortages and student assistance to go into these industries.
JFC voted to transfer $3 million annually to DWD from DPI, but maintained the funding be used for the career and technical education grants to school districts, as under current DPI program.