On September 15, Wisconsin’s state agencies submitted 2021-23 budget requests to the state budget office at the Department of Administration. From these documents, Governor Tony Evers will begin framing his own 2021-23 biennial budget proposal, which he will send to the legislature in February 2021.
While these documents are helpful in gaining insight into what the Governor’s budget may look like in terms of general spending levels, they lack the policy and new big-ticket funding initiatives we typically see unveiled in the executive budgets.
In the letter Evers sent to state agencies in June, he directed agencies to devise their requests with the assumption there will be zero growth in appropriations. Essentially, he requested agencies to develop budgets based on current funding letters. This is typical of the agency budget request exercise.
One of the few exceptions to the direction is for the Department of Health Services, which can propose a budget based on forecasted cost-to-continue needs for Medicaid spending. To that end, DHS is requesting a 16.4% increase in total department funding. Much of that increase comes from future Medicaid expenditure projections. However, the increase also assumes and budgets for accepting federal Medicaid expansion dollars, which would provide over $1.5 billion in new revenue for state Medicaid programs.
While Medicaid expansion will likely be included in Evers’ February proposal, it is unknown what in Evers will draw from across all the agency budgets.
Once Evers introduces his proposal in February, the legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance will commence a series of hearings and debates that will likely take place March and May. Then the legislature will look to pass a final proposal in June 2021.
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