New Joint Finance Committee (JFC) co-chairs Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) sent a warning to Governor Evers, in the form of a Groundhog Day-themed letter, to put forward a “responsible” state budget when he unveils his proposal on Feb. 16. The letter also comes soon after the release of particularly encouraging revenue projections from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), which the lawmakers credit to the GOP-controlled legislature.
The lawmakers wrote: “Do not send the legislature another budget like your first budget that was full of tax increases, excessive spending and divisive non-fiscal policy.” They did not include any examples of the excessive spending or non-fiscal policy items in the governor’s last proposal that they object to.
School funding levels were not mentioned, but it is worth noting that a large portion of the increases in the governor’s budget proposal in 2019 were directed toward schools. It is also worth noting that governors of both parties have increasingly proposed numerous non-fiscal policy items in their state budget proposals as it is the only bill the governor is allowed to introduce and thus their only chance to indicate what policy items they wish the legislature to consider.
This sets an early marker in budget negotiations between Gov. Evers and the GOP legislature, which appear likely to be highly contentious. Stay tuned.