Ninety-Eighth Regular Session
The Chief Clerk makes the following entries under the above date.
The committee on Senate Organization reports:
Pursuant to Senate Rule 41 (1) (e)
, to rerefer Assembly Bill 207
to the Joint Committee on Finance.
Ayes, 5 - Senators Decker, Risser, Hansen, Fitzgerald and Leibham.
Noes, 0 - None.
The committee on Oversight of Senate Broadcasting reports:
The Special Committee on Oversight of Senate Broadcasting met on October 18, 2007 in accordance with the Agreement governing broadcasting of Senate Proceedings which dictates that such a committee review protocols within six months of WisconsinEye's first broadcast of legislative proceedings. The legislative protocols are contained in Article IV of the Agreement.
The Committee heard from Christopher Long, Chief Executive Officer of WisconsinEye. His written testimony is attached. Testimony was also given by Chief Clerk Rob Marchant and Sergeant-at-Arms Ted Blazel.
It is the Chairman's opinion that the protocols have been largely adhered to by WisconsinEye and that only one minor addition needs to be suggested to the Senate Committee on Organization for possible inclusion in the Agreement as is the Committee's unilateral right within these first six months of operation.
The Chairman asked Christopher Long a series of questions related to the legislative protocols and members of the Committee asked additional questions relating to WisconsinEye financing and operations.
In short, to paraphrase the protocols, WisconsinEye has broadcast Senate proceedings in a professional, dignified and fair manner. Their camera shot selections have been consistent with the dignity and decorum of the Senate without embarrassing coverage or needless intrusions on private materials or conversations. WisconsinEye has worked with the offices of the Chief Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms to ensure coverage schedules are published and that meeting rooms are given adequate notice regarding coverage.
Still lacking action from the protocols is a "code phrase" that the presiding officer can use to indicate to the WisconsinEye control room that broadcasting must be terminated immediately due to an intrusion from "a person not associated with the proceedings (who) presents a risk of bodily harm to those present.
The Committee also discussed the potential for confusion as to whether the Senate is recessed or adjourned. This is important because the Agreement dictates camera shots in two different ways:
"If the legislative body is standing informal or in recess, the camera shall focus on the podium."
"When not in use, cameras that are permanently installed must be turned upright so as to face the ceiling." And further, "WisconsinEye must end its coverage 10 seconds after the presiding officer adjourns or recesses the session or meeting."
It may not always be clear whether the Senate has recessed or adjourned if someone in the WisconsinEye control booth is not listening carefully to the presiding officer. There has been discussion about installing some kind of signaling switch at the podium of the Presiding Officer. Another idea was to have the presiding officer gavel once for a recess and three times for adjournment. A third idea was to simply communicate between the rostrum and the control booth via an internet instant messaging window. However, while that may be the simplest and most cost-effective mode, it was noted that the control booth does not currently have internet access. It should be mentioned that WisconsinEye has correctly followed the protocol for termination, but to avoid problems in the future the Chief Clerk and WisconsinEye will continue to discuss possible options to prevent confusion.
Also missing is final approval of a User Agreement which would govern how any person or group may acquire and use the WisconsinEye signal. Language for a User Agreement has been approved by the Senate and is reportedly near approval in the Assembly.
Suggested Modification to Protocols
The Committee members understand that the panel was created to provide a one-time review of the first six months of broadcasting, and there is no feeling among members that there needs to be a permanent oversight committee on Senate broadcasting which could lead to micromanagement of Senate proceedings. However, there may also be times when the Senate Committee on Organization wants to review broadcasting operations but would prefer to delegate those duties to a special committee.
Therefore, we would suggest a modification to the Agreement which states that "the Senate may at any time create a special committee to advise the Committee on Organization with regard to the operations of WisconsinEye, and that the President and/or the Chief Executive Officer of WisconsinEye shall appear before that committee with an annual report." You may also wish to make this a once-a-year requirement with a required annual report rather than an ad hoc panel to ensure continuity in legislative oversight.
It is the Chairman's opinion that the other suggestions forwarded to me informally over the past few weeks relate to minor operational advice (i.e. "Press" placards on the media tables, content of the on-screen title bars, etc.). These suggestions have been given to the Senate Chief Clerk, who is the main point of contact between the Senate and WisconsinEye. I suggest in the future these minor suggestions continue to be given to the Senate Chief Clerk or Senate Org for possible forwarding to WisconsinEye.
It has been a pleasure serving you as Chairman of this Special Committee. Please do not hesitate to call on me for any questions or assistance.
State of Wisconsin
Office of the Governor
To the Honorable, the Senate:
The following bill(s), originating in the Senate, have been approved, signed and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State:
Bill Number Act Number
Senate Bill 40 Act
(Vetoed in Part)
State of Wisconsin
Office of the Governor
October 26, 2007
The Honorable, The Senate:
I have approved Senate Bill 40
as 2007 Wisconsin Act 20
and deposited it in the Office of the Secretary of State.
My budget recommendations for the 2007-09 biennium were delivered to the Legislature on February 13, 2007. In that budget, I set forth goals to ensure opportunity for Wisconsin citizens and stronger management of the state's financial resources. Over eight months later, the bipartisan budget I am signing today meets those goals.
The budget is balanced and has a surplus of $120 million by the end of the biennium. Future commitments to tax cuts and new spending total less than $900 million. This represents a $600 million reduction from the prior biennium, and over two-thirds lower than the gap I inherited in January 2003. Use of one-time funding in this budget is nearly 50 percent less than last budget and over $1.5 billion less than four years ago.
Emerging from the largest budget deficit in state history required a steady and disciplined commitment to fiscal responsibility. My first two budgets cut nearly $800 million from state agency spending. The budget I introduced in February cut state agency budget requests by over $400 million and the budget I am signing today cuts state operations an additional $200 million over the next two years. Implementing these reductions will require continued effective and efficient operation of state government programs. Many of the vetoes I have made to the budget seek to reduce unnecessary reporting requirements and duplicative legislative oversight that would otherwise impede the cost-effective operation of executive branch agencies.
This budget protects the taxpayer. Over $2 billion in tax cuts are either funded in the budget or phased-in over the next four years. By continuing tough municipal levy limits, property taxes on the typical home are held in check – growing at the rate of inflation this year and at about $14 (0.5%) next year. Residential property tax relief is further enhanced through a new "first dollar" tax credit that exempts from school property taxes the first $4,500 of value on all improved property in the state.
Schools will see an additional $525 million in direct state aid and school property tax credits in the biennium. Significant investments are made to support small class sizes in early grades, expand 4-year-old kindergarten, implement school breakfast programs, maintain special education services, provide additional property tax relief to school districts that serve communities with high concentrations of poverty, and recognize the unique needs of rural school districts.
One of the top priorities of my administration has been growing Wisconsin's economy. A key catalyst of our economic growth has always been the University of Wisconsin. This budget provides over $21 million in state support for growth agenda initiatives on University of Wisconsin System campuses. These initiatives will expand our efforts in technology, health care, engineering and other areas critical to our economic success.
The success of our economy requires that all Wisconsin citizens be afforded the opportunity to expand their knowledge through education. I have always made access to higher education a priority. Initiatives in the last two budgets have doubled the amount of funding available for student financial aid. Building on those efforts, this budget implements the Wisconsin Covenant Scholars Program and provides a $44 million increase in student financial aid, including $12 million for the Wisconsin GI Bill veterans tuition remission program.
Wisconsin's economic success requires that we continue our efforts to diversify our economy. This budget provides $22 million for renewable energy grants and loans, expands angel and early stage seed capital investment tax credits and creates a new tax credit for biofuel development. Ensuring our workforce and businesses can maintain a competitive edge is supported by an increase of $3 million in Workforce Advancement Training grants administered by the Wisconsin Technical College System.
Health care access and costs are a major issue for Wisconsin businesses and families. My budget proposed to ensure that 98 percent of Wisconsin citizens had access to affordable, high-quality care. This budget implements the BadgerCare Plus proposal to cover all children and expands Medicaid coverage to childless adults. Seniors and the disabled will receive comprehensive services in the community by expanding the state's Family Care program. Health care costs are reduced for many in this budget by exempting the entire cost of health insurance premiums paid by families and individuals from state income taxes.
Tobacco-related illnesses create massive costs in our health care system. Experts agree that tax increases on tobacco of at least $1 per pack, or the equivalent, are the minimum necessary to reduce smoking. This budget includes a $1 increase in the tobacco tax and a 50 percent increase in funding for tobacco control and cessation efforts. This revenue increase generates over $400 million in revenue in support of the state's Medicaid program and will ultimately lead to improved public health through reduced tobacco use.
Wisconsin's quality of life is second to none. Our outdoor recreation activities are boundless. Hunting, fishing, boating, snowmobiling, hiking – Wisconsin has it all. Those opportunities reflect a long legacy of land, natural resource and environmental protection. Holding true to that legacy, this budget reauthorizes the bipartisan Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship Program for another 10 years. Over $850 million in bonding is authorized to protect pristine natural areas, expand state parks and help local governments and conservation groups expand recreational and land protection opportunities.
There is no question that Milwaukee is Wisconsin's economic and cultural hub. It is the foundation of our state's strong manufacturing industry. Milwaukee makes Wisconsin better. I have always believed that and this budget makes significant investments toward supporting and improving our state's largest city. New funding includes $10 million to help increase math and science achievement of Milwaukee Public Schools students, $17 million in direct school property tax relief, $9 million in support of increased research efforts at UW-Milwaukee, $12 million for translational research efforts at the Medical College of Wisconsin and $1 million for youth summer jobs. Resources are also provided to enhance public safety in Milwaukee, including law enforcement funding, offender treatment, assessment and diversion, and increased youth aids.
Transportation investments are critical to Wisconsin's economic success. Our highways and local roads move tourists, goods, machinery and workers. Our local transit systems seek to ensure everyone has access to a job. We have critical transportation infrastructure needs in our state. The soon to be completed Marquette Interchange is the best example of the ongoing commitment Wisconsin needs to make. This budget adds over $400 million in funding for major highways, highway rehabilitation and maintenance, and local transportation and transit aids. The first phase of reconstruction of the north-south I-94 segment in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties is funded. Resources for preliminary engineering on the Zoo Interchange in Milwaukee County are included in this budget. Rail and harbor funding is provided in recognition of the diversity of means to transport goods and products to and from Wisconsin.
The following is a brief summary of how this budget, including my vetoes, will address some of the key issues facing the citizens of Wisconsin:
• Provides $214 million in general and categorical school aid increases over the biennium which, in combination with $311 million in increases to the school levy and first dollar tax credits and the state's residential schools, will provide school districts the revenues needed to maintain financial resources at the modest levels needed to provide a high-quality public education, maintain the state's commitment to funding two-thirds of school costs and provide property tax relief to Wisconsin's taxpayers.
• Creates a new aid program to provide Milwaukee Public Schools $10 million to implement research-based initiatives to improve pupil academic achievement in all grades and reduce the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students.
• Provides $21 million over the biennium to reduce the property tax burden in high-poverty school districts where at least 50 percent of pupils qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
• Increases special education aid by $55.3 million over the biennium, including $1.8 million for a new program to offset special education costs in high-need school districts. This is one of the largest biennial increases in special education aid in the state's history.
• Provides $3.6 million in sparsity aid to low enrollment, rural school districts, where offering a comprehensive, high-quality curriculum poses greater fiscal challenges.
• Provides $26.8 million to fully fund the state's commitment to increase per pupil payments under the Student Achievement Guarantee in Education (SAGE) small class size initiative from $2,000 to $2,250 beginning in the 2007-08 school year.
• Acknowledges the importance of school breakfast with increased funding of $3.3 million over the biennium, raising the state level of reimbursement per breakfast by 50 percent and increasing the incentive for school districts to implement breakfast programs.
University of Wisconsin System and Student Financial Aid
• Recognizes the importance of the University of Wisconsin System to the state's economy by providing $158 million GPR over the biennium to fund the cost to continue existing academic programs and support services and to initiate a $29.4 million GPR and tuition-funded growth agenda to increase the number of Wisconsin adults with college degrees and maintain the system's role as a leader in cutting-edge research.
• Provides an additional $10 million over the biennium to strengthen the University of Wisconsin System's ability to retain high-demand faculty.
• Strengthens Wisconsin's leadership role in medical research by providing $2.5 million GPR in fiscal year 2008-09 to help support research on lung cancer and $400,000 GPR over the biennium to support research on islet transplantation, a promising new treatment for Type I (juvenile) diabetes.
• Helps ensure that college remains affordable for lower income Wisconsin residents by increasing financial aid programs by $32.2 million GPR over the biennium, including a 40 percent increase to funding for higher education grants for University of Wisconsin students.
• Assists the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Technical College systems in paying the cost of tuition remissions for Wisconsin veterans and eligible dependents by providing $11.6 million GPR over the biennium.
• Increases funding to the technical college system by $3 million GPR over the biennium for Workforce Advancement Training Grants, which help support the kinds of skill development activities that directly benefit Wisconsin workers and employers.
• Maintains the existing controls on technical college district property tax levies to ensure that these colleges can continue to provide the education and training programs critical to Wisconsin's economic vitality.
• Ensures that access to affordable child care for low-income working families will be maintained by providing $69 million in additional funding for subsidized child care.
• Ensures the continued quality of the Wisconsin Child Support Enforcement program by providing $8.4 million GPR. The additional state contribution will offset federal disinvestment in the Child Support Enforcement program and will draw down an additional $16.3 million in federal matching funds.
Economic Development and Transportation
• Encourages the growth of Wisconsin's renewable energy industry and energy independence by providing $22 million over the biennium for the Renewable Energy Grant and Loan Program.
• Targets $7 million from the Renewable Energy Grant and Loan Program for grants and loans to assist a pulp and paper mill to emerge from bankruptcy and provides $4 million over the biennium for grants for the construction of soybean crushing facilities.
• Increases recycling grants to municipal and county governments by $6.5 million per year to offset a portion of recycling expenses.
• Improves skilled employment opportunities for high school students by doubling funding for the Youth Apprenticeship Program, which partners local schools with businesses.
• Increases support for organizations operating homeless shelters and providing transitional housing assistance by $2 million over the biennium.
• Improves highway safety and supports economic development by providing over $2 billion for state highway construction and rehabilitation projects over the biennium. This includes a 9.6 percent increase in fiscal year 2007-08 and 3.1 percent in fiscal year 2008-09 for state highway rehabilitation and a 5.2 percent increase in fiscal year 2007-08 and 2.7 percent in fiscal year 2008-09 for major highway development.