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May 19, 2017Published Article

State Budget Update - May 19, 2017

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) continues to work its way through the provisions of Governor Walker’s proposed 2017-2019 biennial budget. This week the JFC completed its fifth executive session. To date, the committee has primarily dealt with lower profile and less controversial issues, including the budgets for the Department of Justice, the Legislature, the Board on Aging and Long-Term Care, the Secretary of State, and the Ethics and Elections Commissions.

A few issues to highlight from the JFC’s actions to-date include:

On May 11, the committee took action on a number of provisions in the Public Service Commission’s budget, including authorizing $14 million in funding for broadband expansion grants, rejecting the governor’s proposal to direct more Focus on Energy funds to energy efficiency projects at K-12 schools, and approving the governor’s recommendation to provide $371,300 in additional funding for intervenor compensation.

On May 16, the committee adopted two provisions relating to the Division of Hearings and Appeals (DHA). The first, which was recommended in the governor’s budget, will create statutory authority to allow transmission of a copy of DHA recordings of the agency's administrative proceeding to the court in lieu of preparing a transcript within 30 days after service on an agency of a petition for judicial review of agency action, unless the court requests a transcript and reduces DHA's spending authority by $50,000 annually. The committee also voted to direct DHA to conduct a study of the audio and video needs of worker's compensation hearings that could allow for the use of such technologies in worker's compensation hearings and require DHA to present its findings to the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Committee by July, 2018. The council may submit a recommendation to DHA regarding what worker's compensation recording equipment would be sufficient to replace a court reporter in time for inclusion in the 2019-21 agency request.

On May 18, the committee voted on the budget for the Wisconsin Technical College System, including the governor’s proposed tuition freeze, changes to performance-based funding, and elimination of the Educational Approval Board.

JFC is next scheduled to meet on May 23, when they are expected to vote on University of Wisconsin System’s budget, including the Governor’s recommendations regarding performance funding and report cards, a five percent tuition reduction, and the UW flexible option programs.

If you have any questions regarding the Wisconsin state budget or the JFC’s actions, please contact Nathan Houdek at ndhoudek@michaelbeststrategies.com.

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