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.
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.
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.
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.