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. 


The Legislative Fiscal Bureau prepared a comprehensive analysis of the Governor’s budget bill for JFC. In mid to late March, JFC scheduled committee hearings where state agency heads appear for testimony and Q&A. Four public budget hearings took place in April  at which JFC members heard testimony during marathon sessions from 10 AM to 5 PM. 

The LD&L members listed below as site captains coordinated colleague recruitment, provided more detailed orientation, and selected one or two speakers for each city. A total of 75 librarians, trustees, and other allies literally stood up for libraries in a group behind colleagues who delivered 5 minutes of testimony time.  Photos and testimonies are linked below. 


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]


On June 13, the JFC voted approval of the state library aid package supported by WLA (as detailed in the documents linked above) which was folded into an omnibus education motion with other items from the Department of Public Instruction budget request, elements negotiated separately between Governor Evers and legislative leaders, and changes made to the Governor’s budget by the Joint Finance Committee.

At the end of JFC deliberations, their version of the 2023-2025 budget was sent to the full legislature for floor votes in each house.  No changes were made to the state library aid package during those deliberations.  On June 30, the budget bill was sent to the desk of Governor Evers who completed his veto review, released his changes in a Governor's Veto Message and signed the budget bill into law as 2023 Wisconsin Act 19 on July 5, 2023
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the successful realization of Wisconsin Library Association objectives during the 2023-2025 Wisconsin State Budget process!