Wisconsin Geospatial News

WI Land Information Program emerges from state budget process relatively unscathed

Despite worries last spring that the Wisconsin Legislature in reworking the state budget would severely hamstring the Wisconsin Land Information Program (WLIP), Governor Jim Doyle and his administration worked diligently with the Wisconsin Land Information Association (WLIA) and others to minimize detrimental changes to the WLIP. Signing the 2-year state budget on July 25, the Governor vetoed several key provisions related to land information in the Legislature’s proposed budget.

In an August letter to the land information community, Jordy Jordahl, Director of the Department of Administration (DOA) Division of Intergovernmental Relations, summarized some key points of Doyle’s vetoes:

  • All counties, regardless of the amount of retained fees, will be eligible to receive base budget, strategic initiative, and contribution-based grants. The legislature sought to cap the combined maximum of grants eligibility to a county at $45,000 per year.
  • WLIP funding will stay on a “continuing” appropriation rather than an annual appropriation. This ensures maximum flexibility for distributing funds for land records modernization efforts around the state.
  • The existing comprehensive planning law remains intact, along with $4 million for grants to local governments.

While this is very good news, the Governor was unable to save approximately $860,000 in WLIP funds that will be transferred to the state’s general fund. While this is not the outcome many in the land information community hoped for, given the desperate budget situation at all levels in government, most are viewing this as a temporary setback that could change in future budget cycles.

Now that the state budget is signed, and the Wisconsin Land Information Board and Wisconsin Land Council no longer exist, the land information community is waiting for DOA to outline their vision for the future of the WLIP.