State Biennial Budget Process 2023-2025

WLA members promote State Library Aid Priorities


Governor Tony Evers delivered his executive budget proposal to a joint session of the legislature on February 15 where it became AB43/SB70 and moved immediately to the legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee (JFC). The JFC consists of 8 senators and 8 assembly representatives (12 Republicans and 4 Democrats).  Its primary responsibility is to serve as the principal legislative committee charged with the review of all state appropriations and revenues. JFC co-chairs have announced their intention to use the current budget framework as a starting point rather than the Governor’s budget.

CLICK HERE for list of JFC members and the libraries in their districts.  

WLA members play a prominent role in advocating for state library funding. A WLA LD&L budget team began meeting with legislative leaders and JFC members after the current legislative session commenced on January 3, 2023. It became apparent during the earliest conversations with our legislator library champions that the $10 million increase in public library system aid proposed in the 2023-2025 DPI budget submitted to the Department of Administration last September would not receive sufficient support around the JFC table. Governor Evers’ much appreciated request for an additional $14 million for systems in his executive budget was therefore also a non-starter.

Rather than make a full court press for a specific state library aid amount at Library Legislative Day on February 7, participants were encouraged to share stories illustrating how public library system aid funds crucial infrastructure to support local library programs and services. Emphasis was placed on the ways in which the library system aid increase approved in 2021 for the current budget has made a positive contribution to the lives of the constituents we share with legislators and how new funding would be targeted to workforce development, information technology, access to electronic content, reading proficiency and lifelong learning.

 WLA budget documents have since been released proposing a $2 million increase to system aid in the first year of the 2023-2025 biennium and additional $4 million in the second year. WLA also supports DPI’s request for modest cost-to-continue increases for core library services including BadgerLink, Newsline for the Blind and state resource contracts for the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, and inter-library loan access to Milwaukee Public Library and UW-Madison collections. 


What happens next in the state budget process?
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau prepares a comprehensive analysis of the Governor’s budget bill for JFC. In mid to late March, JFC schedules committee hearings where the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and other agency heads appear for testimony and Q&A. Four public budget hearings in April have been announced at which JFC members will be taking testimony during marathon sessions from 10 AM to 5 PM. 

The LD&L members listed below as site captains will coordinate colleague recruitment, provide more detailed orientation and select one or two speakers for each city. Literally standing up for libraries in a group behind your colleagues who speak earns 5 minutes of testimony time, as opposed to only 2 minutes allotted for testimony by a person standing alone. WLA attendees who are constituents of one or more JFC members earn extra smiles!

Please get in touch with the site captains if you are available to attend one or more of the following hearings and plan to arrive by 9 AM latest.   

10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Please arrive by 9:00 a.m. 

Site Captains

APRIL 5 – Waukesha
See photos and video from this event:

WLA Site Captains:
Betsy Bleck [email protected]
Bruce Gay [email protected] 
Nick Dimassis [email protected]

APRIL 11 – Eau Claire

See photos and videos from this event:

WLA Site Captains:
Heather Johnson [email protected]
John Thompson [email protected]

APRIL 12 – Wisconsin Dells
See photos and videos from this event:

WLA Site Captains:
Vicki Teal Lovely [email protected]
Bradley Shipps [email protected]

APRIL 26 – Minocqua
See photos and videos from this event:

WLA Site Captains:
Kris Adams Wendt [email protected]
Sherry Machones [email protected]
Kathy Pletcher [email protected]


Can't attend in person?  Written comments in support of state library aid can also be emailed to the Committee at [email protected], entered at or sent via U.S. mail to: Joe Malkasian, Room 305 East, State Capitol, Madison, WI 53702.

View Past Testimonies by WLA Members

To get an idea of what to expect at the public hearings, here are some 2-minute examples of WLA members' testimony from 2021:

  • April 9, 2021 - Whitewater, WI. View
  • April 21, 2021 - Rhinelander, WI. View
  • April 22, 2021, Menomonie, WI.  View



Next Steps After the Hearings
Once agency and public hearings are concluded, the committee will meet through the end of May to debate and vote on various pieces of the budget bill. At the end of JFC deliberations, their changes to the current budget will be introduced as a substitute amendment to AB43/SB70 and sent to the full legislature for floor votes in each house. The legislature usually delivers its final product to the governor by the end of June. The governor completes his veto review within 30 days of receiving the bill, and then signs it into law.