Every $1 Invested Generates $6 in Additional Revenue
Governor Walker has made it clear that he is a fan of smaller state government. That’s why it’s notable that he has proposed adding 32 full time equivalent (FTE) positions at the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. The positions would focus on improving delinquent tax collections, reducing fraud, and following up on federal audits of state tax filers.
The legislature’s budget committee is scheduled to make a decision on Wednesday on whether to add the positions.
Here is the breakdown of how the new positions would be allocated by purpose:
- Delinquent tax enforcement, 15 FTE. Staff filling these positions would encourage or force individuals and businesses to pay delinquent taxes.
- Tax fraud enforcement, 13 FTE. Staff filling these positions would review income tax returns and tax claim forms for errors and fraud. Special scrutiny would be paid to returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Homestead Credit, both of which benefit low-income Wisconsinites.
In each biennial budget, the governor generally proposes many non-fiscal policy changes that don’t belong in a budget bill. One example this session is the controversial proposal to exempt rent-to-own companies from having to disclose their interest rates. (Read more in this Journal Sentinel article.) The budget is the one bill that the legislature has to pass, and the temptation to use it as the vehicle for a lot of unrelated policy measures is irresistible.
Most of the rest of us, including many legislators, frown on the practice because the budget is such a huge and complex document that the non-fiscal policy items typically don’t get adequate attention from the public, and they aren’t reviewed by the appropriate legislative committees. That’s why the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) typically starts the budget process by stripping non-fiscal policy items from the bill – at least that’s what they enthusiastically do when the governor is a member of the other party or control of the legislature is split. Read more
Next Tuesday’s Agenda Includes Shift of General Purpose Revenue to the Transportation Fund
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is settling into the long process of working through the budget bill, agency by agency and issue by issue. The JFC co-chairs announced today that the committee’s second session of debate and votes on the budget will be held on Tuesday April 30, starting at 10:00 a.m. in the JFC hearing room – 412 East.
Here’s a partial list of what the JFC plans to consider on the 30th, with links to some of the new Legislative Fiscal Bureau papers on those issues. One of the significant papers on the agenda is # 636, relating to bonding for transportation and the proposed transfer of state General Purpose Revenue to the Transportation Fund. For a full list of agencies and papers, click here.
- Compensation Reserves Overview (Paper #155) (There are also 4 other papers in this are.)
- Fund Condition Statement (Paper #635)
- Transportation Bond Summary and Use of Revenues from Other Funds to Support Transportation Programs (Paper #636)
Some of the other areas on the April 30th agenda include the following:
- Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (no papers)
- State Fair Park
- Historical Society
- Transportation — Local Transportation Assistance
- Transportation — State Patrol
- Veterans Affairs — Departmentwide, Veterans Programs, and Museums
Jon Peacock Read more
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will begin debating and voting on specific parts of the biennial budget bill this Thursday, April 25. This first “executive session” on the budget will start at 10 a.m. in the JFC hearing room – 412 East.
As in past years, the committee is starting with a number of the smaller issues. I’ve inserted below a list of nearly all of what the JFC plans to consider on Thursday, with links to all the new Legislative Fiscal Bureau papers on those issues. (Here’s the full agenda.)
- Standard Budget Adjustments (Paper #435)
- State Disaster Assistance Program (Paper #436)
- Emergency Management Volunteer Worker’s Compensation Claims (Paper #437)
- General Obligation Bonding Authority and Present Value Subsidy Limit – Clean Water Fund Program (Paper #270)
- General Obligation Bonding Authority and Present Value Subsidy Limit – Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (Paper #271)
- Present Value Subsidy Limit — Land Recycling Loan Program (Paper #272)
- Standard Budget Adjustment (Paper #445)
- Equipment Pool Appropriation Changes (Paper #446)
- Lands Master Planning (Paper #447)
- Aids in Lieu of Taxes Reestimate (Paper #448)
- Aids in Lieu of Property Taxes Formula (Paper #449)
- Stewardship Debt Service (Paper #450)
- Stewardship Bonding Allocations (Paper #451)
- Standard Budget Adjustments (Paper #630)
- Tourism Marketing Funding (Paper #631)
- Kickapoo Valley Reserve — Aids in Lieu of Property Taxes (Paper #632)
Jon Peacock Read more
In a Budget Project Blog post Sunday, I provided a list of 10 additional budget hearings scheduled by Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) members and the minority party leaders. That post also included a list of the remaining three hearings scheduled by the JFC co-chairs, but misstated the dates of the hearings in the Dells and Baldwin.
Jon Peacock Read more
Ten Added Hearings Begin with One on April 8 in La Crosse (5-6:30 pm)
On Friday the Democratic Senate and Assembly leaders and members of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) announced additional budget hearings in order to allow for more public input on the proposed biennial budget. The Democratic leaders are also inviting Republican legislators to attend these hearings.
A number of Democrats have been critical of the Finance Committee co-chairs for scheduling just four public hearings on the budget bill. One of those hearings was held last week, and there are three more coming up:
- April 8 – Green Bay. Lambeau Field, Legends Club Room, 10 am to 5 pm
- April 10 – WI Dells, Kalahari Resort, Suites 2 and 7, pm, 10 am to 5 pm
- April 18 – Baldwin, Woodville High School Auditorium, 10 am to 5 pm
(More details on the locations of those three hearings can be found here.)
The schedule for the 10 additional hearings follows:
- April 8—La Crosse.
The Joint Finance Committee has scheduled four public hearings on the biennial budget bill, beginning on April 4 in Greendale. The hearing schedule follows:
Greendale High School Auditorium
Greendale, WI 53129
Legends Club Room — 4th Level
Lambeau Field Atrium
1265 Lombardi Avenue
Green Bay, WI 54304
Crystal Grand Music Theatre
430 W. Munroe Avenue (Hwy 23)
Lake Delton, WI 53940
Baldwin-Woodville High School Auditorium
1000 13th Avenue
Baldwin, WI 54002 Read more
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) announced this morning that it will begin meeting next Tuesday, March 19, to hear from the heads of selected state agencies. The JFC schedule calls for four days of agency briefings, running from the 19th through the 26th.
In contrast to the public hearings, which are expected to start in early April, all of the briefings will be Madison (in the JFC meeting room — 412 East). The agency briefings are open to the public, but public testimony isn’t allowed.
Here’s the briefing schedule and some of the highlights:
- Tuesday, March 19 (10 a.m.) – Departments of Administration, Revenue, and Workforce Development
- Wednesday, March 20 (9 a.m.) – Department of Agriculture (DATCP), DHS, DOT, and the WI Economic Development Corporation
- Thursday, March 21 (9 a.m.) – DPI, Tech. College System, UW System, and Dept. of Corrections
- Tuesday, March 26 (10 a.m.) – Departments of Children and Families, and Natural Resources
We’ll follow up with the public hearing dates and locations once those have been scheduled.
Jon Peacock Read more
Earmark Transparency Bill Passes Easily in WI Senate, Moves to Assembly
In an unusual display of broad, bipartisan agreement, the Wisconsin Senate voted 30-3 Tuesday in favor of a bill that would require biennial budget bills to be accompanied by reports listing all the earmarks in the bill. SB 114, which now moves on to the Assembly, also prohibits budget conference committees from adding earmarks. At the national level, President Obama has pushed for similar legislation.
Earmark transparency is the kind of “good government” issue that often draws rhetorical support from lawmakers and citizens across the political spectrum, but which is likely to run up against a wall of unspoken resistance that protects the status quo. That’s not to suggest that there aren’t some legitimate questions and concerns about whether this seemingly straightforward requirement will always be practical and effective, but there’s growing sentiment for allowing more sunlight to shine on the budget process.
The wide-ranging support was illustrated in Congress in May 2010 when an “Earmark Transparency Act” was introduced by U.S. Read more
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) met yesterday and voted 12-4, along party lines, to approve $123 million of cuts from agency budgets recommended in late December by the Administration (DOA). Unfortunately, this is just the latest chapter in an ongoing series of cuts recommended by the Walker Administration and then okayed by the JFC, without public debate or a vote in the full Legislature.
As we noted in a previous blog post, the funding that is being cut and lapsed to the General Fund adversely affects a wide range of agencies, and some of the cuts are shifted onto local governments – such as the substantial hit to county juvenile justice programs through the cut in Youth Aids. Also lapsed to the General Fund is the federal performance bonus funding awarded to the state for the success of BadgerCare. That $24.5 million will now be used to offset the General Fund deficit, rather than being used to help close the Medicaid shortfall, and thereby avoid some of the proposed policy changes that are expected to sharply reduce participation in BadgerCare. Read more