JFC Co-chairs Remove 12 of the 58 Non-fiscal Policy Items from Budget

Friday, April 26, 2013 at 5:45 PM by

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.  When the legislature and governor’s office are controlled by the same party, the JFC tends to be less averse toward policy items.  

On Tuesday, the JFC co-chairs announced that 12 non-fiscal policy measures – out of the list of 58 such items identified by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau – “will not be considered by the Committee during our deliberations on the budget.”  They said those 12 items should  “instead be considered as non-budget legislation by other standing committees.”  

Here are the ones that were removed, 9 of which are from the Department of  Administration’s portion of the bill:                    

  • Procurement Authority for Delegated Agencies (DOA)
  • Increase Procurement Thresholds from $25,000 to $50,000 (DOA)
  • Procurement for Authorities and Municipalities (DOA)
  • Procurement for Commodities and Related Services (DOA)
  • Energy Consuming Equipment (DOA)
  • Removal from Violators List (DOA)
  • Power of Governor and Secretary of Administration (DOA)
  • Provision for Procurement Reports to the Department of Revenue (DOA)
  • Eliminate Legal Services Requirement Regarding Use of Contractual Services (DOA)
  • Land Ownership by Nonresident Aliens and Corporations
  • Request of Discharge Records by Siblings (Veterans Affairs Dept.) 
  • Management of Veterans Home Members Personal Funds (Veterans Homes)

The co-chairs didn’t set aside any of the 16 items on the LFB list that are in the area of K-12 education, such as:  

  • Charter School Oversight Board
  • Contract Requirements for Independent Charter Schools
  • Charter School Admissions
  • Pupils Enrolled in Home-Based Private Educational Programs
  • Charter School Teacher License
  • Requiring Classroom Presence of Teachers
  • Virtual School Teacher Requirements
  • Teacher Experience

Some of the other measures that are on the LFB list of non-fiscal policy items, but which remain in the bill include the following:

  • Child Protective Services Appeals
  • Rental-Purchase Companies
  • Local Government Employee Residency Requirements
  • Eliminating WHEDA  Aproval of PFA Bonding for Housing and Economic Development Projects in Wisconsin
  • Elk Reintroduction from Outside Wisconsin
  • Elk Hunting Season
  • Wolf Hunting at Night
  • Timber Sale Requirements
  • WHEFA Financing  for Nonprofit Institutions

Democrats on the Finance Committee were unsuccessful in their effort to have a committee vote Tuesday on removal of the other items because the co-chairs said that was not part of the committee agenda that day.   They sent a letter to the co-chairs today asking that the question be added to the committee’s April 30 agenda. 

The complete list of policy items identified by LFB can be found here.

(Update:  See this Journal Sentinel editorial urging removal of all the non-fiscal policy measures from the budget bill.)

Jon Peacock 

Categories: 2013-15 biennial budget, Blog, Joint Finance Committee, STATE BUDGET | Comments Off on JFC Co-chairs Remove 12 of the 58 Non-fiscal Policy Items from Budget

Comments are closed.