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JFC Hearings to be In-Person and Virtual

By John Forester | March 10, 2021

From The Wheeler Report . . .


The Joint Finance Committee will be holding in-person public hearings on the 2021-23 state budget as well as one virtual hearing. The hearing schedule includes:

The public hearings will begin at 10 am and conclude at 5 pm.  The format will be similar to past hearings. Management at each of the venues will monitor capacity. Those wishing to testify at the virtual hearing will be required to register in advance, details to come on the registration process. A portal is available for individuals to provide input: www.legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments as well as an email address budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov .

Prior to today’s announcement on the public hearings, JFC co-chairs met with The Wheeler Report to discuss the 2021-23 budget.

JFC co-chairs Rep. Mark Born and Sen. Howard Marklein were asked to comment on the good and bad in the Governor’s budget, but both said they did not want to comment until the Legislative Fiscal Bureau was done with the budget summary. They said they felt the best course of action was to ensure they knew more about the budget items before commenting. They are waiting for Fiscal Bureau to identify the policy items, which they intend to remove from the budget.

When asked to comment on the Governor’s Capital Budget Born said the budget was too high, highlighting that he believed the Joint Finance members were interested in ‘repairing, updating, and maintaining” what the state already owned over large expenditures on new projects. He said it was clear the Governor did not make a priority of any items in the adult corrections system and the state needed to invest in maintaining what was already in place.

One continuous theme throughout the interview with the two co-chairs was the uncertainty created by the federal stimulus proposal. Both Marklein and Born said they can start working on the budget once the public hearings are over, but the new state revenue numbers will not be available until May and the amount of funds or direction of those funds by any federal stimulus proposal made preliminary discussions difficult. While both were clear they did not want to use one-time federal funds for long-term expenditures in the budget, they did say one-time funds could be used for other items in the budget. They highlighted the one-time local road project funds that were made available in the last budget.

Born and Marklein said they expect to have a similar timeline as the previous budget and are aiming to have the budget to the Governor by July 1, but refused to comment on the possibility of the Governor vetoing a bill saying, “That’s a hypothetical and we won’t comment on a hypothetical.”

Born and Marklein ended the interview by saying that while they are both new to being co-chairs they believe the transition has been going well. They emphasized they were working hard to keep their caucuses informed on the budget process and working with membership to have the opportunities to provide input.  They credited their smooth transition to their staff saying the staff is continually working hard to keep lines of communication open.

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