MADISON — The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee holds hearings on the biennial budget today and tomorrow — in Rhinelander and at the University of Wisconsin Stout in Menomonie.
Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green), co-chair of the powerful budget-writing committee, knows JFC has its work cut out for it. First and foremost, the Republican-led committee has to try to rebuild Gov. Tony Evers’ bloated, $91 billion spending plan without knowing where the Democrat is going to spend the most recent $3.2 billion in federal COVID relief funds.
Evers has been light on specifics, sporadically announcing broad spending plans. That’s what he did Tuesday in announcing $175 million of the federal money would support the development of a school-based COVID-19 testing program for teachers, staff and students.
“That was $175 million that I wasn’t aware of three hours ago,” Marklein told Empower Wisconsin Tuesday on the Vicki McKenna Show.
“The first thing we need to figure out, and I don’t know if we are going to get this on a timely basis, I would like to know what the governor’s plans are for spending this $3.2 billion,” he added.
Wisconsin and its citizens — through a combination of stimulus checks, forgivable business loans and state and local government relief — have taken in more than $45 billion in federal funding, Marklein said. That’s half of Evers’ proposed total two-year spending plan, and more than double all the tax revenue the state collects on an annual basis. It’s a lot of money, and the tax-and-spend governor has done nothing to rein in state spending.
Sen. Marklein is our guest today on this edition of PowerUp, Empower Wisconsin’s podcast.