State Budgets 2012: Wisconsin



To see more state budget news and information, visit State Budgets 2012

Budget Background:

  • Legislative Session for 2012: Convened January 10, 2012
  • Fiscal Year Begins: July 
  • Frequency of Legislative Cycle: Biennial
  • Frequency of Budget Cycle: Biennial

Learn more from the National Association of State Budget Officers

Budget News and Information: 2012

3/28/12: The Wisconsin War

Now is the time for all good Tea Partiers to come to the aid of Wisconsin.

Conservative leaders in the Badger State are under siege from Big Labor, the White House, the liberal media and the judiciary. The yearlong campaign of union thuggery, harassment and intimidation of GOP donors and businesses is about to escalate.

The most visible target is Gov. Scott Walker, who faces recall on June 5 over his tough package of state-budget and public-employee-union reforms. Three state GOP legislators also face recall. A fourth target, staunch union reformer and Second Amendment advocate Sen. Pam Galloway, announced she was stepping down last week — leaving the legislature deadlocked and Democratic strategists salivating.

Read More: The New York Post

3/19/12: Analysis: Winners and Losers Emerge from Wisconsin Legislative Session

Gov. Scott Walker: Walker used the GOP legislative majority to push through priorities in the opening weeks of his term, many with bipartisan support, that extended tax cuts to businesses as an attempt to improve Wisconsin's economy, eliminated some income taxes and Health Savings Accounts, and reorganized the state's economic development arm.

But Walker's plan for fixing the state's budget shortfall, which included ending all collective bargaining powers except over minimal salary increases for most public employees, set off a firestorm. Walker never blinked or compromised with Democrats in getting his plan passed. Along the way, Walker became a national conservative hero able to pull in staggering donations from out-of-state donors more than happy to write him big checks to stave off the recall effort.

Read More: Post Cresent

3/16/12: Budget Earmarks to Receive More Attention Under Bill Headed to Governor

The state Assembly has approved a bill that would bar Wisconsin lawmakers from passing the state budget without a report listing all the earmarks in the spending plan.

The Republican measure calls for the Legislative Fiscal Bureau to prepare a list of all earmarks in each budget and their beneficiaries.

Lawmakers couldn't pass the budget until the fiscal bureau has distributed the report to all legislators and posted it online.

Read More: WJFW News

3/14/12: State Budget Committee Approves Medicaid Changes

A plan to raise premiums for some of the poorest people enrolled in Wisconsin’s Medicaid programs passed a Legislature budget committee Wednesday, but officials say it won’t affect enrolled children, pregnant women, disabled people or the elderly.

The Joint Committee on Finance voted along party lines to approve the plan proposed by the state Department of Health Services, who wants to lower the income level at which families must pay a premium. That would affect about 44,000 participants who previously didn’t have to pay.

Read More: Green Bay Press Gazette

3/9/12: Bill Would Bring Back Union Rights

As the one-year anniversary of the passage of the bill repealing most collective bargaining rights for public unions approaches, Democratic legislators are seeking to do away with the contentious law

Read More: The Badger Herald

3/8/12: Legislature Winding Down with Major Work Undone

Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-led Legislature gained national attention for an agenda that ranged from limiting liability lawsuits for businesses to repealing most union bargaining for public employees.

But in their final push, the GOP governor and legislative leaders said they wanted to create jobs by passing two key bills - one to help boost venture capital funding for state businesses and the other to overhaul mining regulations.

Now as recall elections loom and the legislative session ends, both bills are failing. Walker and Republicans tout their list of other accomplishments while Democrats question whether the governor made effective use of the GOP's control of state government to create jobs.

Read More: The Milwaukee Journal Snetinal

3/3/12: Effort to State Treasurer, Secretary of State Positions Continues

A central Wisconsin lawmaker hopes his proposal to eliminate two constitutional offices will pass the state Legislature before the end of the session.

State Rep. Scott Krug, R-Wisconsin Rapids, continues to gather support for the joint resolution to eliminate the offices of secretary of state and state treasurer -- a proposal he introduced nearly a year ago that would require a constitutional amendment in order to pass.

Read More: Wisconsin Rapid Tribune

3/2/12: State Budget Committee to Vote on Miming Bill

The Legislature’s budget committee is poised to vote next week on a bill designed to jumpstart a northwestern Wisconsin iron mine.

The Republican bill dramatically reforms Wisconsin’s permit process to help Gogebic Taconite dig a huge open-pit mine just south of Lake Superior.

Assembly Republicans passed the measure in January and the bill moved to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald kicked it to a special committee headed by Sen. Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) to work on mining. Fitzgerald abruptly dissolved the panel after members put out their own bill, throwing his support behind the Assembly version.

Read More: Walworth County Today

Previous Legislative Cycles

4/26/11: Joint Finance Committee to begin Work on State Budget

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee will begin its work on making changes to Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal this week.

The Joint Finance Committee plans to start Tuesday on discussing the budgets of several state agencies, including public defender, insurance and administration of the lottery.

Read More: Appleton Post Cresent

4/17/11: State Cuts Worry City Officials

Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposals are going to put a squeeze on municipal governments, which might cause central Wisconsin cities to cut services.

A recent analysis of Walker's budget repair bill shows that the gap between state aids and money communities save, because public employee contributions to health insurance and pensions increased, will not offset the loss in funds.

Read More: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

4/17/11: Wisconsin Democrats Plan Unofficial Budget Hearing

Wausau-area residents with lingering concerns about proposed cuts to state spending can discuss them with lawmakers at an unofficial hearing Monday.

The event is one of a series hosted by Democratic lawmakers unhappy with the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee, which is responsible for setting official public hearings on the state budget. The committee wrapped up its own hearings last week in Neenah, the last of four.

Read More: The Wausau Daily Herald

4/10/11: Many Share Blame for Wisconsin's Budget Woes

A $3.6 billion budget deficit doesn't happen overnight.

No single culprit can shoulder the blame for putting Wisconsin on a path toward a fiscal crisis. The road to the 2011-13 budget is littered with poor planning and promises of multiple administrations and legislatures controlled by both parties — and a bum economy to boot.

Read More: Green Bay Press Gazette

4/6/11: Walker Signs Bill Aimed to Balance Budget

Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill designed to balance Wisconsin's budget this fiscal year. The Legislature on Tuesday passed the measure which relies largely on refinancing of state debt to save $165 million between now and the end of the fiscal year June 30. Much of what was included in the bill Walker signed Wednesday had previously been proposed along with Walker's plan restricting collective bargaining rights and forcing state workers to pay more for health insurance and pensions.

Read More:

4/5/11: Wis. Senate Passes Bill to Help Fix State Budget

The Wisconsin Senate has passed Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to fix a projected $137 million shortfall in the state budget.

It was the first piece of legislation the Senate took up after the 14 Democratic senators who fled Wisconsin in an unsuccessful attempt to block passage of an anti-union bill returned to work Tuesday.

Read More: Google

3/29/11: WI Budget Still Ball of Confusion

That budget repair bill that would strip most Wisconsin public employees of many collective bargaining rights is causing mass confusion, as some say it's now law and others say "not so fast." Today a Dane County judge will revisit the issue, after she blocked publication of the law by the Secretary of State last week. Republicans pushed to have the law published by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau instead, and say that meets the requirement for enactment.

Read More: Public News Servive

3/29/11: Wisconsin Judge Orders no Further Implementation of Budget Law

A Wisconsin judge on Tuesday ordered "no further implementation" of the Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill that limits collective bargaining rights.

Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi said that her earlier restraining order saying the law shouldn't be enacted had either been ignored or misinterpreted.

Read More: Fox News

3/28/11: Spending Would Increase 1% Under Walker Budget

Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget would increase overall spending by 1% over two years rather than reduce it as the administration had said earlier this month.

That would still be the tightest lid on spending of state and federal money in at least two decades, observers said.

A report released Monday by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau showed that under Walker's bill the state would spend a proposed $64.1 billion in state and federal dollars over two years after factoring in existing spending that would be transferred to new quasi-public authorities such as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. That would amount to $609.5 million more in spending over the 2011-'13 budget.

Read More: The Journal Sentinal

3/14/11: Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill not Official

Even though Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed his controversial budget repair bill into law last week, the Secretary of State is not making it official.

According to Wisconsin state law, the secretary of state has ten days to publish the law.

Read More:

3/11/11: Gov. Scott Walker's Budget Leaves Schools, Communities Uncertain

The legislative drama over public-sector unions came to an end Thursday with the state Assembly's approval of Gov. Scott Walker's bill to eliminate collective bargaining.

But for public schools and communities that will be shouldering budget cuts without raising taxes next year, little is certain or decided about how the move will change workloads, compensation, staffing levels, schedules and services. Some of them, late last year, negotiated labor contracts with their unions that extend up to three years.

Read More:

3/9/11: Wisconsin Pension Plan Among Most Secure

The protests in Wisconsin over public workers’ pay, benefits and collective bargaining rights have underscored a dilemma facing many states: the cost of public pensions and how cash-strapped governments should pay for them. But the turmoil overshadows a salient point: Wisconsin may have a budget deficit, but its pension system does not.
Read More:

3/8/11: Wisconsin's Walker Accuses State Democrats of Blocking Negotiations

A chance to end the legislative standoff that has paralyzed the Wisconsin government for weeks seemed to slip away Monday after Gov. Scott Walker (R) accused the leader of the state Senate Democrats of blocking negotiations to end the impasse.

Read More: The Washington Post

3/8/11: Gov. Scott Walker Refuses to Meet with Democratic Senators

Wisconsin Democrats who fled the state nearly three weeks ago asked Monday for a meeting with Gov. Scott Walker to talk about changes to his plan to eliminate most public workers' union rights, a request the governor dismissed as "ridiculous."

Walker said he and his administration have been in communication with at least a couple of the AWOL Senate Democrats about a deal that could bring them back, but the lawmaker who asked for the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, "is firmly standing in the way."

Read More: Wisconsin Rapid Daily Tribune

3/7/11: School Vouchers Multiply in Gov. Walker's Wisconsin State Budget

In Milwaukee, state budget cuts have implications for traditional public schools and their private school competitors. Governor Scott Walker, currently presiding over a standoff with public sector unions, has cut funding for public schools in the state budget, but has not touched money slated for vouchers to pay for students to go to private schools.

Walker's budget proposal would drop the cap on the number of total vouchers, expand the voucher option beyond the City of Milwaukee to pupils from the Milwaukee suburbs, and lift the income restriction, enabling kids from higher income families to take advantage of the vouchers.

Read More: The Non Profit Quarterly

3/7/11: Proposed State Budget Cuts Hit Home

For months, Gov. Scott Walker and leaders in the state Legislature heralded the approach of a new era of fiscal responsibility rooted in shared sacrifice.

"While families across this state were focused on making ends meet, the state government continued to grow well beyond our taxpayers' ability to pay," Walker said while presenting his 2011-13 budget Tuesday. "But the time has come for us to make the tough choices necessary to put our state back on the path to prosperity."

But it wasn't clear how that vision might take shape and manifest in the daily lives of the state's nearly 6 million residents.

Read More: Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune

3/6/11: Local Officials Try to make Senseof Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Plan

Gov. Scott Walker's biennial budget is creating some concern among municipal officials who are just beginning to understand its impact.

"We're preparing for the worst-case scenario and hoping for the best case," Pulaski Village President Keith Chambers said.

It'll be several days, maybe weeks, before municipalities and counties will know exactly how hard Walker's budget will hit them.

Read More: Green Bay Press Gazette

3/4/11: Budget Crisis: County, City Officials Expect Significant Cuts

The budget plan headed to the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance is more austere than those of recent memory.

With a projected $3.6 billion deficit at the end of June 2013, Gov. Scott Walker spread the pain with a goal of protecting property owners from higher real estate taxes.

Read More: Superior Telegram

3/4/11: Wisconsin Governor Prepares Layoffs Amid Standoff

A "frustrated" Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was poised on Friday to issue layoff notices to 1,500 state workers, blaming the move on a two-week standoff over his bill to curb union collective bargaining rights.

The threat of layoffs increased the stakes in a bitter battle between Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats, a fight being watched around the nation as other states like Ohio and Indiana weigh rolling back public employee union power as part of budget-cutting efforts.

Read More: Reuters

3/3/11: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Defends State Budget Proposal

Gov. Scott Walker toured Wisconsin on Wednesday to sell the budget bill that, by his own admission, significantly slashes state aid to municipalities and schools.

Read More: Green Bay Press Gazette

3/2/11: Wisconsin Budget Stalemate Could Drag on for Months

Wisconsin's budget stalemate over union bargaining rights shows no sign of resolution and it could be a long wait.

The governor isn't budging. AWOL Democrats aren't planning to come back. And, despite talk of deadlines and threats of layoffs, the state doesn't have to pass a budget to pay its bills until at least May. Even then, there may be other options that could extend the standoff.

Read More: The Seattle Times