State budget debate this week; non-fiscal policy update

The state Assembly will act first on the state budget (Assembly Bill 56), beginning at noon on Tuesday, June 25 with the state Senate following the next day on Wednesday, June 26 at 10:00 am.   Major changes to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) budget are not expected, but some last minute changes have been discussed amid two GOP Senators announcing they did not support the JFC package. You can follow the budget debates LIVE on WisconsinEye. Stay tuned…

One side benefit of having different parties controlling the governorship and legislature is a dramatic reduction in the amount of non-fiscal policy jammed into the budget bill.  Non-fiscal item items often do not receive the attention and deliberation that a typical stand-alone piece of legislation would (some recent examples include changes to open records laws and voucher expansion).

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau identified only seven items in the JFC budget as compared to 69 provisions in the previous budget when one party controlled both the legislature and governorship.  This was part of an intentional effort by the GOP-controlled legislature not to give Gov. Evers the ability to alter policy provisions with his powerful partial veto pen.

According to Wispolitics.com:

“Of the seven (non-fiscal policy items) included in the proposed budget, four are related to restricting local regulations for quarries, which were added as part of a JFC transportation package.

“Another of the identified non-fiscal policy items was also included in the JFC transportation package. It included new requirements for designing highway projects.

“The other two items identified in a memo released Friday, include: requiring a report on security around the state Capitol grounds; and deleting a three-year contract limit for the sale of wholesale electricity by a merchant plant to a utility. The provision would apply if the merchant plant has a financial interest in the utility, according to LFB.”