And We’re Off – Legislature Takes Up 2017-19 Budget

MacIver News Service | March 28, 2017

[Madison, Wisc…] On Tuesday, the legislature began to hold hearings on Governor Scott Walker’s 2017-2019 budget proposal, which spends approximately $76 billion over the biennium.

The Joint Committee on Finance, the legislature’s budget committee, will hold agency briefings in Madison this week on the proposal before heading out on the road to give the public another opportunity to voice their opinion.

One of the major debates was over the state’s plan to switch to self-funded insurance. While Governor Walker and the Department of Administration say switching to a self-funded model for state employees’ health insurance will save $60 million, members of JFC expressed their hesitation.

Walker’s budget also boosts funding for K-12 education, but much of that funding is tied to mandatory Act 10 compliance. Committee members were confused over many of the requirement’s details.

Of course, transportation was a topic of lengthy debate. DOA Secretary Scott Neitzel defended the budget’s focus on safety and maintenance of the existing infrastructure, and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) grilled him on whether the governor thinks Wisconsin’s roads are safe.

The concept of shared services, where state agencies work together to perform functions like human resources and information technology – streamlining government operations and saving money – also generated its share of questions.

The MacIver Institute broadcast the first several hours of the JFC hearing. Watch the Facebook live videos here:

The Finance Committee meets next week in Platteville on Monday and Milwaukee on Wednesday. MacIver will bring you extensive coverage the hearings and live updates at and on Twitter @NewsMacIver and @MacIverWisc.