Wisconsin Geospatial News

WI State Budget Causes Shift

At the end of August, two months into the new fiscal year, Governor Scott McCallum signed the state’s budget which sets Wisconsin’s spending and policy directions over the next two years. In signing the budget, the Governor issued 315 vetoes, some of which directly affect the Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP).

Budget Undergoes Many Alterations
In the Winter, 2001 issue of the Bulletin we reported on significant changes to the state’s Land Information Program included in the governor’s proposed budget as sent to the legislature. In our most recent issue (Spring, 2001) we reported on the changes made to the budget’s land information provisions by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance.

In July, following the Finance Committee’s actions, additional budget alterations were made by Democratic and Republican Party caucuses, with final adjustments agreed to by a joint conference committee which resulted in the legislature’s final version of the budget. This is the document that went to the Governor for his signature and potential line-item vetoes.

Governor signed mixed package
In signing the budget, the Governor made impacts on the WLIP not only by items vetoed, but by items left in the budget as well. In his vetoes, the Governor took the following actions:

  • deleted extension of the sunset date by four years (to September 2007) for both the Land Information Board and the Wisconsin Land Council.
  • eliminated the requirement that the WLIB establish rules for the creation of the Internet-based Wisconsin Land Information System (WLIS), and that the Dept. of Administration contract for the maintenance and operation of WLIS.
  • struck the requirement that the WLIB by May 2002 make accessible state agency information needed by local governments to complete comprehensive land use plans.

    The Governor left stand these provisions that:

  • add $1 to the locally collected document filing fee, changing from $10 to $11 the fee collected for the recording of the first page of a document. The additional funds raised from this increase will remain within the county where they are collected, but their use will be restricted to providing better public access to housing-related data.
  • eliminate $200,000 including 2 full-time positions from the Dept of Administration’s Office of land Information Services.
  • transfer $400,000 of WLIP funds to the state’s General Purpose Revenue fund to help balance the overall budget.
  • transfer $500,000 of WLIP funds to the Comprehensive Planning Grants Program administered by the Wisconsin Land Council.

    What happens now?
    The budget signed by the Governor means that the WLIP and the Wisconsin Land Information Board will continue to exist in their current structure for at least another two years. However, following a budget provision created several years ago, the WLIB and the WLC will each have to submit to the legislature and the governor by September next year a report that evaluates its activities and functions, and recommends whether it should continue to exist past the current sunset date of September, 2003.

    With the loss of a total of $900,000 to Comprehensive Planning Grants and to reducing the state’s budget deficit, the level of funds available for the start of WLIS, and for several categories of local WLIP grants remains a question. In early October the WLIB will meet to determine, in response to changes implemented by the new budget, what amounts of funds can be allocated to various WLIP grant categories, and to discuss with the Dept of Administration the future direction of WLIS.