Main Menu

State agencies, such as the Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Health Services-which houses the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI)-use tax dollars to create and manage programs that help Wisconsinites live happy, empowered lives. The Wisconsin Biennial Budget provides the breakdown of funding so these state departments can implement programs effectively.

Committee Chair Rhonda Staats at the State of Education address in September.    Update: Special education funding has been frozen for the past 10 years and only covers one quarter of the cost to educate special education students. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction budget that was given to the Governor's Office for review calls for $600 million in spending for special education, which would allow $4,000 per student.

 

Knowing how the budget is developed can make advocating easier, because you will be able to share your story at the right time and place to impact policy and program work. Learn more to positively impact change for special education needs and other requests pertinent to people who are blind and visually impaired in Wisconsin.

 

Budget Basics

The state budget is on a two-year cycle, from July of an odd-numbered year through June of the next odd-numbered year. Therefore, the 2019-2021 budget will determine the way money is spent from July 2019 through June 2021. It takes nine months to one year for the budget to be created and finalized; it must be signed into law by the governor. The amount of money in the budget is fixed and split into various pots for state agencies to use.

Tentative Timeline for the 2019-2021 Budget:   July - September 2018: State agencies develop budget proposals, and send them to the Department of Administration.    September 2018 - January 2019: The Department of Administration works with the governor to develop a complete budget proposal.    January or mid-February 2019: Budget introduced to the legislature as a bill. The governor outlines budget highlights in a public address.   February - March 2019: The Joint Finance Committee, comprised of both Assembly representatives and members of the Senate, conducts a series of public hearings around the state to gather public opinion about what residents want funded. The Joint Finance Committee develops its own version of the budget based on these requests.   April - June 2019: The new budget proposal first goes to the senate. The legislators of that house review the Joint Finance Committee's budget and make amendments. The majority must vote to pass the amended budget. Next, the assembly reviews and amends the previous house's bill, creating its own version. These two budgets may be different. If so, a Conference Committee, consisting of members of both houses, consolidates the two budget proposals. The bill goes back to both houses for a yes or no majority vote.    June - September 2019: The budget then lands on the governor's desk. The governor can veto line items and make changes to the budget. The legislature has the power to override the governor's vetoes, but this rarely happens because each veto requires a two-thirds majority vote.    By June 30, 2019, the budget bill is required to be signed into law so the new budget is in place by July 1, 2019. If this happens after that time, the state continues operating on the previous year's budget until the new one is signed into law.

 

The Council, an Important Advocacy Voice:

The legislative committee of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired provides the strategic direction for the Council's advocacy work. This includes setting the Council's over-arching legislative priorities, determining budget requests, seeking draft legislation for new bills and opposing proposed legislation that could negatively impact people who are blind and visually impaired. The Council plays an important advocacy role in the budget process by supporting state agency funding requests and seeking increased spending when appropriate. Members of the legislative committee are highly encouraged to build relationships with their local representatives and to communicate regularly with them regarding Council priorities. The full legislative committee meets often to keep apprised and to offer guidance for this advocacy work.

The committee chair, Council CEO, and contracted legislative liaison work closely together to implement these directives by fostering relationships with legislators, their staff and state agency leaders. They attend and testify at hearings, work with bill drafters and disseminate information as appropriate to the full legislative committee, Council Board of Directors, and the greater blind and visually impaired community.

How You Can Get Involved:

Vote according to issues important to you. When talking with candidates, ask open-ended questions. Remember that the candidates of today are the potential leaders of tomorrow, so ask them where they stand on issues important to you. For a list of questions to ask candidates and legislators, visit WCBlind.org/news.

State agencies, such as the Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Public Instruction, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Health Services-which houses the Office for the Blind and Visually Impaired (OBVI)-use tax dollars to create and manage programs that help Wisconsinites live happy, empowered lives. The Wisconsin Biennial Budget provides the breakdown of funding so these state departments can implement programs effectively.