The state budget debate continues at the Capitol in Madison. Gov. Tony Evers proposed his budget in February. And about a month ago, the state Joint Finance Committee threw out about 545 of his budget priorities — but lawmakers say that doesn’t mean some of those proposals won’t come back in.
Some of the items were supported by farm groups, like funding for regional farmer support, farmland preservation grants and animal disease response. Assembly Ag Committee Chair Rep. Travis Tranel, R-Cuba City, says just because those items were removed, doesn’t mean they can’t be included in the budget his caucus is now drafting.
“This has been very typical of how our budget process has gone,” he explains. “We basically went back to base… went back to the budget that we had passed last session, and that’s where we’re going to start from. Just because stuff was taken out that the governor had in, doesn’t mean that at the end of the day when we present our version of a budget, that it won’t be included.”
Tranel says it’s too early to give solid answers on what will be included in his caucus’ draft, but he does see rural road improvement as a key priority.
He says the Assembly Committee on Transportation and Senate Committee on Transportation and Local Government public hearings on the Agricultural Roads Improvement Grant Program have been productive. This proposal would spend $150 million of one time money to update primarily rural Wisconsin infrastructure. More than 50 legislative sponsors and more than 30 ag and local government partners have signed on in support of ARIP legislation.
When it comes to the timeline of the state budget, Tranel says it could be finalized by mid-summer.
“Ideally, we would pass a budget and have it signed into law by July 1, but more realistically, sometime this summer we should have a final version of a budget and get it signed into law,” he says.