2013-15 Biennial Budget Address

Governor Scott Walker is scheduled to deliver his biennial budget address at 7 pm tonight, Wednesday, February 20, in the State Capitol Assembly Chambers. The address will be streamed live on WisconsinEye. Audio will be available on Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television will air a live telecast.

Walker has released many details about the budget over the past ten days:

Higher Education — The governor plans to increase funding for the University of Wisconsin System by $181 million over the biennium. System faced a $315 million cut two years ago. The governor also said that the $66 million lapse cut will not continue.

The university will also benefit from increased funding for job-training and economic development — UW System will receive $20 million in the form of an incentive grant program to address workforce development and affordability. System will also receive $2 million for its Flexible Option degree program under the proposal.

Walker also plans to include a provision that would allow the UW-Madison chancellor to determine a pay plan for faculty and staff without legislative approval.

UW-Madison’s Carbone Cancer Center will benefit from $3.75 million to establish the Wisconsin Oncology Network of Imaging Excellence. The network will be hosted by the center.

K-12 Education — Governor Walker proposes to expand school choice to public school districts that enroll at least 4,000 students and have at least 2 schools that have failed the state’s accountability measure. His plan also increases the per pupil spending for voucher schools and would allow special-needs students to attend private schools at taxpayer expense.

Walker also proposes a modest 1-percent increase in school funding along with $64 million in performance-based funding. Most of the money would be awarded to high-performing or improving schools.

Transportation — The governor’s budget includes $6.4 billion for highway projects, and increase of $824 million from the last biennium. Increased bonding will be part of the planned transportation projects, and the governor said he might consider selling off state-owned power plants to repay bonds.

Venture Capital — On Monday, the governor announced $25 million for venture capital funding.

Domestic Abuse — Walker proposes $11 million in funding for domestic abuse facilities in Milwaukee and Madison, including $560,000 for the construction of the new Domestic Abuse Intervention Center in Madison.

Law Enforcement — The governor’s budget includes an increase of $6 million for DNA collection at every felony arrest in the state. Walker also plans to fund five new positions in the Department of Justice to assist with child sex trafficking cases. An additional $3 million will fund GPS monitoring in domestic violence cases.

Veterans — Yesterday Walker announced $43.3 million in spending on veterans. The money will expand the GI Bill, add more than 100 staff at the state’s nursing home for veterans, add $5.3 million in funding for the Veterans Trust Fund, and extend tax credits to businesses that hire veterans.