The state budget process took another step forward this week as the Governor formally introduced his two-year budget proposal to the State Legislature. The budget is now before the Legislature’s budget-writing committee, the Joint Committee on Finance. In the coming weeks, the Committee will be holding public hearings around the state to receive input from citizens regarding the Governor’s initiatives.
As a member of the budget-writing committee, I look forward to learning the details of the Governor’s budget bill and listening to citizen input at the public hearings. I am pleased that the current budget outlook provides us with opportunities to invest in our priorities as we work to maintain a sound financial position. Here is an overview of some of the key provisions within the Governor’s budget:
Taxes – Property taxes would continue to be restrained by limiting increases to the rate of new construction. A reduction in income tax rates is also proposed, focusing on middle-income families.
Education – The Governor provides additional state funds for school districts, technical colleges, and the UW System. Funding initiatives brought forth by the Governor include grants for skills training, a flexible degree option, and expansion of school choice.
Public Safety – Additional resources are proposed to protect victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Enhanced DNA collection is also proposed to help catch career criminals and bring relief to victims and their families.
Veterans – The Veterans Trust Fund would receive an additional $5 million from the general fund, while the Wisconsin GI Bill and the Veterans and Surviving Spouse Property Tax Credit would be expanded.
Mental Health – Nearly $30 million would be made available to enhance and increase services to those living with mental illness.
More information on these and the rest of the Governor’s budget provisions can be found on the Department of Administration’s website at www.doa.state.wi.us/.
As the budget process moves forward, I will be working with my colleagues on the committee as we consider modifications to the budget bill and pass a budget that focuses on fiscal responsibility and putting people back to work.
What are your thoughts on the Governor’s budget? I welcome your comments and input. Please visit my website at www.harsdorfsenate.com or call my office at 1-800-862-1092 or 608-266-7745.