If you’re like most people, you probably have no freaking clue how a state budget works or who writes it or what it covers. Well, you’ve come to the right place.
In Wisconsin, the state legislature makes most of the decisions about what should be included in the budget, but the governor also gets input. Considering they generally have different priorities — right now in Wisconsin, the governor (Tony Evers) is a Democrat while the legislature is controlled by Republicans — this is a difficult and timely process.
The state budget is the one bill that must be signed into law. No money can be used without first being signed into the budget. Basically, the budget covers just about everything the state can spend money on, from schools to businesses to infrastructure to healthcare to COVID-19 relief.
The process it takes to get to the final budget is highly complicated, so if you’re interested in learning more about the details, check this explainer out.
The budget is biennial, meaning it’s proposed and finalized every two years. That means 2021 is a budget year, so let’s take a look at the $91 billion budget proposal from Gov. Evers.
Included in Evers’ policy agenda is:
- $1.6 billion boost in funding for public & private schools
- $200 million in aid for small businesses
- $79.5 million to update the state’s unemployment system
- Millions of dollars to improve water quality and to deal with PFAS poisoning in our drinking water
- $40 million to expand I-94
- A rollback to Act 10’s collective bargaining limits
- Increase of state’s minimum wage to $8.60 ASAP and to $10.15 by 2024
- Legalization of medical & recreational marijuana
- Raise taxes on businesses & the wealthy; tax breaks for the lower & middle class
- Redistricting by a neutral panel instead of lawmakers to eliminate gerrymandering
- Creation of automatic voter registration
- Background checks for all gun purchases
- Create a new juvenile justice model
- Plenty more that you can read about here
Now the budget heads to the Legislature & the Joint Finance Committee, where changes will be made before the budget is finalized later this spring or early in the summer.