Everything You Need to Know about Walker's Budget

Below is a summary of the state budget prepared by the Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee. 

Updated March 13, 2015

Gov. Walker’s fiscally irresponsible “Cut and Borrow” policies are preventing economic growth and holding Wisconsin families back. As we work to responsibly balance the state budget, Democrats want to put Wisconsin families first and increase economic opportunities by strengthening our schools, investing in infrastructure and creating quality jobs.


  • Reduces state support for education and forces local public schools to reduce per pupil spending by $150 on average in the 2015-16 school year.
  • Takes funding directly from local public schools to pay for the statewide expansion of Gov. Walker’s taxpayer-subsidized private school voucher program.
  • Removes local control of schools by creating an unaccountable and unelected statewide charter school board.
  • Provides $6.7 million in additional funding for rural sparsity and high cost transportation


  • Cuts $300 million from UW schools and forces layoffs across the state.
  • Converts the UW System to a public authority model and allows the new UW System Authority to increase tuition.
  • Fails to fully fund the Wisconsin GI Bill which provides veterans and active duty members of the armed services with an education at UW and Technical College schools.
  • Eliminates public oversight and makes Wisconsin the only state without student protections at for-profit colleges.


  • Merges the WEDC and WHEDA agencies into a new quasi-private authority, the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority, and removes legislative oversight.
  • Removes the requirement that the Forward Wisconsin Development Authority be financially audited by the Legislative Audit Bureau –– the non-partisan agency that uncovered the WEDC’s past fiscal mismanagement. 


  • Freezes Knowles-Nelson Stewardship and prevents land conservation efforts.
  • Removes citizen oversight by converting the Natural Resources Board and Conservation Congress from policy-making entities to advisory councils.
  • Shifts away from research-based conservation policies by eliminating 66 science and education positions at the Department of Natural Resources.
  • Eliminates public funding for the state park system, increases annual park fees by 12 percent and allows the DNR to sell corporate naming rights for state parks.


  • Cuts $15 million from SeniorCare and forces seniors to enroll in the more costly and confusing Medicare Part D prescription drug program –– a move that will cost seniors nearly $700 more per year in enrollment fees.
  • Limits health care access and shifts $345 million in additional costs onto state taxpayers by rejecting federal funding for BadgerCare.
  • Makes dramatic changes to Wisconsin’s long-term care programs leaving the elderly, individuals with disabilities and their families uncertain about future care options.
  • Creates additional barriers for doctors and dentists to work in rural, underserved areas.


  • Creates a new county-based property assessment system.
  • Increases insurance costs for local communities by eliminating the long-standing and cost-effective Local Government Insurance Fund.
  • Cuts $4 million from the successful municipal and county recycling grant program.


  • Cuts $139 million from the Department of Corrections.
  • Eliminates overnight guard tower shifts at state prison facilities.
  • Eliminates 10 criminal prosecutor positions and deletes staff retention funding for local District Attorney offices. 


  • Both Wisconsin residents and out-of-state property owners would see a $5 annual reduction in property taxes on a median-valued home.
  • Reduces funding for the Veterans and Surviving Spouse Property Tax Credit by $1.14 million.
  • Reduces funding for the Wisconsin Jobs Tax Credit by $2 million.
  • Borrows $1.56 billion including $220 million to help pay for a new Milwaukee Bucks
    basketball arena.


  • Puts $1.3 billion in transportation spending on the state’s credit card shifting more debt onto Wisconsin’s children and grandchildren.
  • Transfers $6 million from the Universal Service Fund to subsidize broadband expansion projects.
  • Eliminates state funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects and deletes the program that
    ensures bike and pedestrian accommodations are included in new construction projects.

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