If you have an opinion on whether to eliminate night wolf hunting, expand the private school voucher program, freeze public school spending, enact a tax cut, reject federal Medicaid funds, require DNA collection for some arrests, ? or a host of other proposals included in the governor's two-year budget, now is your chance to voice that opinion.
The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee will hold four hearings around the state in April to gather public input on the proposed $68 billion two-year budget.
The committee's Northeastern Wisconsin stop will be at 10 a.m. April 8 in the Legends Club at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Three other stops have been scheduled in Greendale, Lake Delton and Baldwin as the committee tries to cover the state geographically.
The committee is holding agency hearings this week; after the four public hearings, it will go through the governor's proposals and forward a budget to the Legislature in May.
Two years ago, the finance committee's road show was contentious in the wake of the elimination of collective bargaining for most public employees.
This year, the public hearings are being held after the passage of a contentious mining bill, plus there are plenty of issues in Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-15 biennial budget that are bound to attract detractors as well as supporters.
"People who tend to show up are the ones who have opposition," said state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and co-chair of the Joint Finance Committee, however, those who back the proposals are welcome to show up and voice their support. "We want to hear from both sides," he said.
Nygren said the committee's role is to listen to the public.
That's an important role. Involving your constituents in the budget debate is smart, and taking the debate to them is also wise. Therefore, we applaud the finance committee's road trip. Not everyone can get to Madison to sit in and voice their views. These hearings make that somewhat easier.
Plus, if you're voting on how taxpayer dollars are being spent and you're making decisions that affect the lives of residents, you should listen to those who support and oppose those decisions. It might be uncomfortable at times; it might be gratifying. But for the legislators, that's part of the job.
We encourage people to attend these hearings. Through your input, legislators can put a face, a name, an experience to these budget proposals, and hopefully it will lead to a more responsive government.