Lawmakers Propose New Transparency Requirement For Budget Process

Bill Calls For Public Posting Of Budget Proposals 48 Hours Before Debate

Wisconsin state capitol building
WisconsinKassKop (CC-BY-ND)

Two GOP state lawmakers are circulating a proposal at the state Capitol they say would make the state budget-writing process more open to the public.

Right now, members of the Legislature’s finance committee can introduce and vote on proposals during meetings without any notice.

Under the plan, co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Allen, R-Waukesha, proposals would have to be posted online for at least 48 hours before the budget committee could debate them.

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“The intent is really not to tie the hands of the joint finance committee, it’s just to make sure that we have open, honest, above-board government,” Allen said.

Allen said the bill is partially in response to proposed changes to Wisconsin’s open records laws lawmakers attempted to add to the last state budget.

Those changes were ultimately removed from the budget after lawmakers received push back from across the state.

“I see it as a win-win, really, as a way of allowing those Joint Finance Committee members to be more empowered in some respects, with greater input on some obscure proposals that sometimes make their way into the budget,” Allen said.

The proposal includes exemptions for emergency motions, which would be determined by a vote of three-fourths of the members of finance committee, and for motions that contain “minor substantive differences” from proposals that have already been circulated.

Neither co-chair of the finance committee immediately responded to a request for comment by deadline.

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