JFC Approves Lapsing $123 Million; More Cutting on the Way
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.
By far the largest cut is to the UW System budget, and students have been vocal in speaking out against the lapse of UW funding to the General Fund. (See the press release from the United Council of UW Students.) The UW System is losing $46 million in the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30. Read more in the article in today’s Journal Sentinel.
The lapses would be easier to swallow if this were the last round, but that’s not the case. Even before the announcement last week that the biennial budget is now expected to be in the red by about $143 million, we knew that DOA needed to find about $41 million more to lapse in the second half of the biennium. However, since the Governor said he intends to close the new $143 million budget hole without legislation, it’s likely that the next round of lapses will be considerably larger than the cuts approved yesterday.