Archive: 2017-2019 Budget Action HQ

This page is an archive of our 2017-2019 Budget Action resources.

You can find current budget information and action opportunities at: 

    Archive: 2017-2019 budget resources:

    2017-2019 Wisconsin Budget Headquarters
    Go Public with YOUR story!

    This page is updated regularly as new budget information emerges. Please check back often to stay informed and up-to-date on budget news and actions!

    8/11/17: BUDGET ACTION UPDATE!!!

    After a full summer of stalled budget negotiations, it sounds like Joint Finance could take up the budget NEXT WEEK. Please stay tuned for details and be prepared to take action. NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO SEND A NOTE TO YOUR LEGISLATORS AND MEMBERS OF THE JFC (contact info below in this post): Remind them that public education matters most to Wisconsin voters and taxpayers, and tell them you look forward to seeing a budget passed that reflects the will of the people to restore public school funding at a minimum of $200/pupil, with no new & unvetted policy shoved in at the last minute without opportunity for public input.

    6/28/17: Impasse continues, please continue to speak up for strong public schools!

    Brand-new Marquette Poll reaffirms strong support for public schools
    Key take-aways:
    • Top priority for spending is K-12 education at 37%.
    • 75% of those say they are willing to spend more for K-12.
    • State funding for K-12 “Clearly stands out as top priority.”
    • 63% have education in their top two concerns.
    On the state budget:
    Talking points:
    • Budget delays hurt kids. DPI will issue its projected aid numbers this week, but districts won’t know how much aid they’ll actually receive for months (the next set of numbers comes out Oct. 15, well after districts have set their budget, hired teachers/staff, and held their annual meetings). The longer legislators stall this process, the more expensive the delays are for districts.
    • The people have spoken. And they did NOT ask for more tax money to go to unaccountable private school tuition vouchers. They asked for full and fair funding for public schools. An unvetted increase to the voucher program at this late stage in the budget process (and at the sole request of the voucher lobby) is a violation of the public trust, and a clear disregard for the testimony heard around the state.

    6/6/17: Wisconsin Parents: Assembly Education Plan Hurts Kids, Betrays Promise

    Update: 6/2/2017.

    Public education funding is at risk.  According to this latest report, lawmakers are divided on a proposal to cut $90 million from Governor Walker’s proposed education budget.

    For many districts, even this $200/pupil increase means cuts. Anything less than the proposed $200/student increase in state aid means fewer resources in the classrooms, more layoffs and districts that can’t “complete” on teacher salary, and another cycle of taking resources away from students who desperately need our investments.

    Contact your legislators (find your legislators here) and members of the Joint Finance Committee TODAY and call on them to listen to the people and invest in our children!

    Budget Update: 6/1/2017

    the Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released its 15-page summary of the impacts of the proposed education budget.

    This means the Joint Finance Committee is ready to take up the education budget. We’re expecting them to announce that they will meet in Executive Session  on Tues 6/6, Wed 6/7or Thursday 6/8. We will share the specifics as soon as confirmed. You can also keep an eye on the JFC website for updates.

    The people have spoken. Now it’s up to lawmakers to prove they were listening.

    The Joint Finance Committee has not yet announced when it will take up the education portion of the state budget, but is expected to so so within the next week. Please stay tuned and continue to call on lawmakers to pass a budget than ensures a minimum $200/pupil increase to public schools in addition to increased funding for mental health, rural aid, and an increase to the special education reimburse. See below for budget resources and details, and continue to contact lawmakers.  Once approved by the JFC, the budget bill goes to the Assembly and Senate for floor debates, amendments, and votes, then to the Governor (who can veto but not add or restore items) to be signed into law.  Your voice matters! Please continue to speak up.


    Per the clerk of the Joint Finance Committee, written/video testimony will still be accepted until May 1, 2017You can email the entire Joint Finance committee by sending your  written testimony to:  Use subject line: Testimony on 2017-2019 Budget for Public Record and be sure to cc your own legislators.

    Pro tip! Maximize the impact of your testimony by submitting it as a letter to the editor or op-ed of your local paper. Let your community why you’re standing up for kids & schools!

    Highlights and coverage from the budget hearings in Spooner, Ellsworth, and Marinette:

    Wisconsin Eye coverage (full coverage on YouTube of each hearing):


    The first three budget hearings were held in Platteville, West Allis and Berlin. Here’s a round-up of the coverage:

    New Resource! 3/31/17

    Budget Ask graphic:

    budget ask
    Our students are counting on YOU to make sure they have the resources they need to succeed, and making a clear ask in your budget testimony is important. Be specific and make it local. Talk to your superintendent, business manager and board members. Find out how much spendable aid YOUR district needs to meet the needs of all students. Then tell us what that money will be used for. Paint a picture. Show what a $200/pupil increase looks like in your schools. Tell YOUR story and make an impact! See our Budget Action Guide for tips on preparing effective testimony, and use these talking points to guide your “ask.”


    Wisconsin Public Education Testimony Tailgates are now set for all 6 budget hearing locations! JOIN US!!!  Here are the details on the first three hearings:

    • Monday, April 3, 10am – 5pm UW-Platteville, Ullsvick Hall,30 South HickorTESTIMONY TAILGATEy Street, Platteville, WI 53818.
      8:30am  Testimony Tailgate for Kids PRESS CONFERENCE! Meet at the yellow school bus on Main Street (next to Ullsvick Hall) to show strong united front for kids & communities before heading in to sign up to testify at 9am.
      11am and 3pm People’s Mic! Meet at the Bus to share and hear testimony. We’ll use this time to take video and amplify our stories. Refreshments provided all day, light lunch at 11:00
      All day: check in, testimony coaching, and networking, pick up Go Public! shirts
    • Wednesday, April 5, 10 am – 6pm State Fair Park, Exposition Center, 8200 West Greenfield Avenue, West Allis, WI 53214 (Milwaukee)
      7am press event

      8am-8pm (?): Testimony Tailgate featuring people’s mic, testimony collection point, photo booth/video(?)
      Food Delivered 11-1 & 4-6

       Open invite to stand up for public ed 4-6pm join us in school colors to celebrate public schools

    • Friday, April 7, 10am – 5pm Berlin High School, Auditorium, 222 Memorial Drive, Berlin, WI 54923
      Planning is in the works to have “TESTIMONY for TEN”  at the top of every hour. The Soapbox will be open for 10 minutes for people to share their testimony.
      “PRESS CONFERENCE”, tentatively scheduled for 11:00 at the Welcome Tent.
      When you check in with us in the morning, you can sign up for a “LIGHT LUNCH” (Subway sandwich).  We will have them delivered at 12:15.

    UPDATE: 3/28/17

    According to WisPolitics, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is debating “working off base” on the state budget. JFC agency hearings begin this week and public hearings begin April 3. The decision will be made very soon, so your calls and emails are important.

    What does this mean? Going “back to base” means legislators reject the Governor’s proposed budget and start from zero – which could mean another round of insufficient funding for our public schools and other departments.  For K-12 public education, the restored funding of $200/pupil proposed by the Governor would be off the table – as would much-needed relief for rural schools, mental health services, and more. It would also mean that the public would not know what changes are proposed and would not have additional opportunity to testify on those changes beyond the public hearings already scheduled.

    Contact the JFC Committee members as well as your legislators today and urge them not to wipe out proposed funding for public education.  Ask them to begin with the open, transparent process of using the Governor’s budget as a starting point for their biennial budget deliberations.

    Please encourage others to contact their legislators as well. Click here to share this call to action on facebook.

    Then make a plan to testify in person or in writing on the budget! See our Budget Action Guide below, and please RSVP here to connect to our efforts!

    Thank you for your advocacy for our students & schools!
     YOUR VOICE MATTERS!  If you are interested in connecting to the regional Budget Action Planning team in your area to participate in Joint Finance Committee Hearing actions and share your concerns about the budget at the hearings and in your community, please contact the Wisconsin Leadership Development Project coordinator listed for your region:
    • NORTHEAST (Berlin and Marinette hearings): Carol Lenz ( and Ann Muenster (
    • NORTHWEST (Spooner and Ellsworth hearings): Jeff Smith ( and Bob Wright (
    • SOUTHWEST (Platteville hearing): Ellen Lindgren ( and Carlene Bechen (
    • SOUTHEAST (Milwaukee hearing): Jenni Hofschulte ( and Stacy Lynch (

    Each region has a local team working on research, testimony, and plans to make the day of the Joint Finance Committee hearings impactful, accessible, and enjoyable. Join the movement and be part of raising your voice in the democratic process to support students and schools!  Those who wish to testify on issues other than public education are welcome to join these efforts, and contact the regional coordinator for more information. Issue areas include: environment, healthcare, education, and more.

    Joint Finance Committee Hearing schedule (subject to change; times and locations updated 3/22/17):

    • Monday, April 3, 10am – 5pm UW-Platteville, Ullsvick Hall,30 South Hickory Street, Platteville, WI 53818
    • Wednesday, April 5, 10 am – 6pm State Fair Park, Exposition Center, 8200 West Greenfield Avenue, West Allis, WI 53214 (Milwaukee)
    • Friday, April 7, 10am – 5pm Berlin High School, Auditorium, 222 Memorial Drive, Berlin, WI 54923
    • Tuesday, April 18, 10am – 6pm Spooner High School, Auditorium, 801 County Highway A, Spooner, WI 54801
    • Wednesday, April 19, 10am – 5pm Ellsworth High School, Gymnasium, 323 West Hillcrest Street, Ellsworth, WI 54011
    • Friday, April 21, 10am – 5pm Marinette High School, Auditorium,
      2135 Pierce Avenue, Marinette, WI 54143

    *Note that the JFC reserves the right to change locations and times with only 24 hours notice. If any details change, look for them to be reported here.


    Why should you speak out on the Wisconsin Biennial Budget?
    The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) public hearings are the place where citizens give testimony directly to the elected officials who are responsible for creating Wisconsin’s next two-year budget. This is the public’s opportunity – and obligation – to ensure that our tax dollars are invested in strong, thriving communities.

    In previous years, however, we have learned that time to speak at JFC hearings is precious – each person gets only two minutes to speak, often after waiting for many hours. We also know that JFC members can reject the proposed budget and start over from “base budget” once they meet in executive session after the hearings, and that they are likely to insert new policy changes in an “omnibus” package before the bill moves forward – and the public won’t have additional opportunity to testify on those changes. In recent years, such proposals as Special Needs Vouchers and the Milwaukee schools takeover plan were passed as part of such a package. This has been a way for lawmakers to pass policy measures that are unlikely to get traction as stand-alone legislation.

    So we’ve asked ourselves: What could we do, together, to make sure our voices are heard and every aspect of our issues that deserve attention are given careful consideration by decision-makers? How can we make sure that all the education issues that matter are fully considered at these hearings? How can we make sure that we are painting a clear, accurate picture of the impacts of budget decisions on the students in our communities and schools?

    Our answer: organize to unite at the JFC hearings.

    This effort is organized by volunteers from various grassroots organizations around the state (including partners from the Wisconsin Public Education Network, Wisconsin Farmers Union, and many others), who have connected through the Wisconsin Leadership Development (WiLD) project. Our purpose is to increase the visibility and impact of our efforts by raising our voices together.  We will do this by connecting at and in advance of the hearings to prepare and develop strong testimony, and ensure that we are informed and effective messengers on the issues that matter most to our communities.

    Joint Finance Committee hearings  are open to the public — so why should you join us?

    1) Because YOUR VOICE MATTERS!  We want to ensure that all the issues that matter most to Wisconsin families are raised in a clear and effective way at the hearings. Our team of organizers, experts and researchers can help you make sure you tell YOUR story in a way that will resonate with decision-makers.

    2) To share resources, ideas and concerns in advance of the hearings

    3) To bring some fun and excitement to the Joint Finance Committee’s public hearings on the budget by creating space to meet and connect with others in our regions.

    4) To help us track the issues that are of most concern to Wisconsinites and provide the resources and support needed to meet the needs of those who plan to testify.

    5) If you have not testified at a Joint Finance hearing before, there are procedures and practices that can help you be more effective at telling your story.


    Wisconsin Budget overview:

    WI budget process

    2017-2019 Budget Resources:
    NOTE: In budget documents, education funds are generally found alphabetically under P for Public Instruction.

    Helpful Handouts and other tools:

    Members of the Joint Finance Committee:

    • Co-Chair Sen. Alberta Darling (R) (SD 8) River Hill
    • Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren (R) (AD 89) Marinette
    • Vice Chair Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R) (AD 14) Brookfield
    • Vice Chair Sen. Luther Olsen (R) (SD 14) Ripon
    • Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R) (SD 10) River Falls
    • Sen. Howard Marklein (R) (SD 17) Spring Green
    • Sen. Thomas Tiffany (R) (SD 12) Hazelhurst
    • Sen. Leah Vukmir (R) (SD 5) Brookfield
    • Ranking Dem Sen. Lena Taylor (D) (SD 4) Milwaukee
    • Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) (SD 27) Middleton
    • Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R) (AD 31) Clinton
    • Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R) (AD 35) Irma
    • Rep. Mark Born (R) (AD 39) Beaver Dam
    • Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R) (AD 55) Neenah
    • Rep. Gordon Hintz (D) (AD 54) Oshkosh
    • Rep. Katrina Shankland (D) (AD 71) Stevens Point
    • Committee Clerk: Joe Malkasian: (608) 264-8314 –

    You can email the entire Joint Finance committee by sending your  written testimony to:
    Use subject line: Testimony on 2017-2019 Budget for Public Record and cc your own legislators.

    Individual email addresses for Joint Finance Committee members:

    How to prepare effective testimony :
    • Start with a clear ask: make explicit exactly what change you want to see. BE SPECIFIC
    • Tell your story. Why do you care so much about this issue? Why does it matter to you? Share specific moments that demonstrate the impacts of this issue in your life and your community or school.
    • Connect it to others. Why should others care? How does the issue that matters to you matter to all of us?  SHOW this through specific examples of how we are connected.
    • Demonstrate the urgency. What change do you want to see and why does this change need to happen now?
    • Be positive and aspirational. Focus on what you are FOR, not what you are against. Remember: legislators could go back to a “base budget.” They need to know what your local schools need to meet the needs of all students.
    • Get the facts and MAKE IT LOCAL.  Avoid making blanket statements and focus on the local impacts of the state budget. Talk to your superintendent or business manager and understand what your district needs. Is $200/pupil enough? How much spendable aid per pupil does your district need? What would it look like if your district saw an increase in special education funding? And take advantage of our team of experts ready to vet your testimony for accuracy.
    • Be prepared to use your time wisely. Individuals will be allowed two minutes each at the microphone. Always start by stating your full name and city/district.  Groups of 3 or more will be allowed 5 minutes total.
    • Practice! 2 minutes of testimony is about 250 words. Make sure your story is clear, vivid and paints a local picture of why you care — and that you include your budget request. Be prepared to deliver your testimony in 2 minutes, as public testimony is usually strictly timed.
    • Be memorable. Consider purchasing one of our Go Public t-shirts (available first-come first served on site, or in advance through your regional coordinators). Or bring school spirit by wearing your local district’s colors & gear. Having us spread out in the audience with matching shirts is a very strong visual statement of support for students and public schools.
    • Stand united. Group testimony gets the attention of listeners and can send a message of unity. Consider bringing a group of parents, educators, administrators, board members, and community leaders with you. Be sure all of your names are included on the written testimony you submit to the clerk.
    • Visual aids—photos of people you are talking about, or your school, or a chart or graph can be effective for visual learners.
    • Amplify your message!  Once your testimony is ready to go, share it widely! It’s not enough that legislators hear what you have to say. Make sure your friends and neighbors know why you are standing up and speaking out, and what concerns are most pressing for your schools. Consider submitting your testimony as a letter to the editor of your local paper, share it online on your team’s website, post it on social media, and make a video sharing your concerns! Use #GoPublic and #WIBudget2017  and send your stories to to help us track the show of support for our public schools.
    • Make it official!  When submitting written testimony (by email or snail mail), be sure to ask that your budget testimony be entered into the public record. Bring 3 hard copies of your testimony to the JFC hearing with you to present for the same purpose (one copy for the clerk, one for our team when you check in, and one to read). Use subject line: BUDGET TESTIMONY FOR PUBLIC RECORD. Make sure your message includes your full name and address, and include the testimony in the body of the email (not as an attachment).
    • Let YOUR elected officials know you testified! Even if your elected officials aren’t members of the Joint Finance Committee, they will vote on the budget and need to know your concerns. CC your own legislators on all email correspondence to the JFC, and send them written copies of your oral testimony if you present it at the hearing.  Find your legislators here.
    JFC testimony pro tips-page-001

    Go Public

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