Council Setting its Advocacy Focus on Biennial State Budget

A bus driving by the Wisconsin State Capitol

Governor Tony Evers’ proposed biennial budget for fiscal years 2023-25 weighs in at just under $104 billion of proposed state spending. The state budget impacts everyone in Wisconsin, but certain parts of it are of particular interest to the Council. Those include provisions related to mass transit, specialized transportation, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) services, the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI), education and special education, health care, election administration and much more.

Back in February, the Governor formally proposed his version of the budget, and it was referred to the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee. Joint Finance held public hearings around the state in April. During May and June, Joint Finance is making changes to the budget, delivering a revised bill to the full State Assembly and Senate for deliberation and votes in June. Because of partisan differences in priorities, the Joint Finance version will probably bear little resemblance to the Governor’s. Once both legislative houses approve the bill, the Governor will have the opportunity to veto specific items before signing the final budget into law. State law requires that the budget process be completed by June 30.

The Council supports inclusion of these items in the 2023-25 State Budget:

  • 10% increase to County Elderly and Disabled Transportation Programs
  • 20% increase to Tribal Elderly and Disabled Transportation Assistance
  • 20% increase to Specialized Transportation Programs including capitol assistance for vehicle purchase and mobility management services
  • 4% increase to mass transit.
  • 20% increase to paratransit.
  • $135,600 for OBVI to add a vision rehabilitation therapist position.

The Council is disappointed that the following items have been removed for consideration from this budget:

  • Creation of Regional Transit Authorities.
  • $10 million per year for transit capital gains.
  • Reinstatement of Complete Streets.
  • Enactment of Steve’s Law, which would allow State ID cards to be used to access Department of Natural Resources passes and permits that currently require a driver’s license.
  • Acceptance of federal funding to expand BadgerCare eligibility to 138% of the federal poverty level.
  • Increased funding for polling place review and supply programs.

The Council invites you to join the advocacy efforts underway on these specific budget items. Contacting your representatives in the State Assembly and State Senate is an important step. If your assemblyperson or senator is on the Joint Finance Committee, so much the better.

Consider the policy maker as a partner in achieving your goals. Have facts in hand to supplement your personal story that relates to the issue. For example, share with them how current transportation options make it difficult for you to get to the store or to get to your polling place to vote, and if possible present data showing you are far from alone in facing these challenges.

To find out who represents you at the State Capitol, you can call the Legislative Hotline at 800-362-9472.

You can find a complete, issue-by-issue summary of the Council’s budget and legislative priorities on the Advocacy page of our website.

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