After finishing the last of six public hearings around the state last week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will begin holding executive sessions and voting on provisions in the 2017-2019 State Biennial Budget next week. The JFC will spend the next few weeks voting on dozens of items contained in Governor Walker’s proposed budget. Less controversial issues are usually addressed earlier in the voting process, with the more contentious issues (such as transportation and K-12 education funding) addressed at the end of the process. The first executive session on the state budget will take place on May 1. The JFC is tentatively scheduled to meet on the following dates: May 9, 11, 16, 18, 23, 25, and 30. Additional dates will be added at the discretion of the JFC co-chairs.
Looking ahead at some of the high profile budget items the committee will consider, it appears that Governor Walker’s $649 million funding increase for K-12 education is receiving support from the JFC. However, questions remain about how the funding will be allocated with public, choice, and charter schools all seeking funding increases. In addition to K-12 education, transportation funding is another closely-watched budget issue. In the ongoing debate over new funding versus cost-savings initiatives, Governor Walker’s recent comments in support of using more state General Purpose Revenue for transportation funding provide insight into negotiations between the governor and legislative leaders. Vehicle registration fees and motor vehicle fuel taxes have historically been the two main sources of funding for the state’s Transportation Fund, excluding bonding, but recent budgets have relied increasingly on state GPR as a funding source. Governor Walker has repeatedly said that he opposes increasing the gas tax, but his recent comments regarding GPR and vehicle registration fees show that he is not shutting the door on new revenue.
If you have any questions about the state budget process or any provision of the state budget, contact Nathan Houdek.