State Budget Clears Senate, Heads to Assembly
State senators have finally passed the state budget bill just before midnight on Tuesday on a 18-15 vote. The $73 billion funding package now goes to the Assembly, where the GOP majority in that house is expected to approve it on Wednesday evening.
Governor Scott Walker, who is planning to make his announcement to run for president soon, has not said if he will sign the budget before his campaign launch.
Earlier in the process of writing the budget, members of the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee took action on several agricultural provisions within the package, such as spending $250,000 annually for a farmer-led watershed initiative. As part of the program, grant recipients would receive at least 50 percent funding to address non-point source pollution by implementing best management practices.
The JFC budget maintains funding for the Fertilizer Research Council at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for allocating certain fees for fertilizer research projects within the University of Wisconsin System.
The panel also voted to continue the Livestock Premise Registration Program at DATCP. County conservation staff would get an extra $675,000 each year as part of the budget.
And the JFC approved transferring $1 million annually from the DATCP’s Agricultural Chemical Cleanup Program to the DNR’s non-point account to help pay, in part, nonpoint staff at DNR and DATCP, as well as county conservation staff, cost share funding for farmers, and other nonpoint activities.
The committee voted against Governor Walker’s proposed budget provision that would transform the boards of the natural resources and agriculture departments into advisory councils.