Official Public Hearings On Budget Continue, While Unofficial Ones Begin


The Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) continues public hearings on the governor’s budget this morning in Green Bay – and later today, the first of several unofficial listening sessions gets underway.

Legislative Democrats say they are unhappy that only four public hearings on the budget have been scheduled, so they have planned ten local sessions across the state. The first session is tonight in La Crosse, followed by Racine, Wisconsin Rapids, and Barron.

Joint Finance Committee member and Democratic Senator Bob Wirch says both types of public hearings can help educate residents. He says the sessions can make some difference when it comes to crafting the budget.

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“It’s always difficult to estimate how effective we’re going to be in the budget when we’re in the minority. But clearly, we’ll have a better idea of the interests of our constituents and the needs of our constituents after these hearings.”

One thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on is that even if the sessions are “unofficial,” they still want to hear what their constituents are thinking.

JFC co-chair, Republican Representative John Nygren, says no matter how many hearings they scheduled, people will still demand more.

“I think if you look at where they’re being held this time around, geographically they’re very diverse, pretty much all four corners of the state. About the only thing people could be critical of is that we aren’t going to the northern Superior area, but we did that two years ago. That’s all part of the process is moving them around.”

Nygren says he will be holding some local budget listening sessions in the coming weeks, as will JFC Senate Republicans Joe Liebham and co-chair Alberta Darling.