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Assembly passes bill requiring state agencies to find 5 percent in cuts
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Assembly passes bill requiring state agencies to find 5 percent in cuts

From the Get caught up on everything that happened in the Legislature series
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The Assembly passed a bill 61-33 that requires state agencies to supplement their biennial budget requests with proposals to maintain the previous year’s budget levels and cut its budget by 5 percent.

Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, the lead Senate co-author, said the bill is an important step to “right-size” state government. He noted the state budget has grown from $26.6 billion to $73 billion since 1991.

“We have taken great strides over the past five years to improve fiscal accountability by implementing a comprehensive financial software solution, reducing bonding and improving our GAAP deficit,” Kapenga said. “However, in order to properly right-size government, better tools are needed to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of each dollar spent.”

Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison, blasted the proposal, saying it could negatively affect departments that already have troubled budgets.

“Is an agency like (the Department of Transportation) required to spend a 5 percent cut in their budget despite what we know to be the problems right now in funding our infrastructure?” she asked.

The liberal Wisconsin Council on Children and Families registered in opposition to the bill, saying it should require agencies to calculate and disclose the cost of maintaining existing services.

“From the perspective of improving public debate about budget options, the proposal fails to address the biggest gap,” the group said.

The proposal was amended to exclude federal funds, debt payments, budget adjustments and certain other spending categories.

The proposal passed the Senate 19-13 on Tuesday along party lines.

Contact Matthew DeFour at 608-252-6144 or mdefour@madison.com. Contact Molly Beck at 608-252-6135 or mbeck@madison.com.

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