Tuesday, May 28, 2013

E-update From Rep. Jeff Mursau

eUpdate – May 28, 2013 

        State Walleye Stocking Initiative
The initiative, developed by the Department of Natural Resources, will dramatically increase the number of walleye in Wisconsin by expanding production at state, private, and tribal fish hatcheries. The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative includes the following:

1.      $8.2 million in existing unencumbered bonding authority to expand hatchery capacities

2.      $1.8 million for operating costs over the biennium.

3.      $2 million over the biennium for a competitive grant program for private organizations to expand walleye production and to cover operational costs.

4.      $160,000 in one-time funds for the UW Extension to continue work with private aquaculture through the end of Fiscal Year 2014

5.      $500,000 annually beginning in Fiscal Year 2015 to contract with organizations to acquire additional walleye fingerlings

6.      $250,000 annually to expand the summer Tribal Youth Program

7.      The program is a state-tribal partnership giving high school-aged tribal youth the opportunity to work on natural resource-related projects.

8.      Under this initiative, production is estimated to increase from 60,000–120,000 large walleye fingerlings to over 500,000 by 2016       

        Budget Update District Attorney Funding: The Joint Finance Committee took a suggestion from legislators across Wisconsin, including me, to increase funding for Assistant District Attorneys. Oconto County in particular has seen dramatic recent increases in heroine prosecutions and needs increased State funding to ensure justice is provided to victims and offenders alike.   

        Budget Update Domestic Violence/ Treatment Alternatives Diversion (TAD) Program: The Joint Finance Committee unanimously backed $1 million annually in GPR for the Treatment and Alternatives and Diversion grant program, plus $500,000 annually to fund drug courts in counties that do not currently have them.     
        Budget Update DNA Collection: The committee adopted the provision for DNA collection at felony arrest and convicted misdemeanors. The motion deletes the collection of DNA at misdemeanor arrests. Other changes would require circuit courts to notify defendants of their right to seek expungement of their DNA profile from the state DNA. 

        Budget Update Rent to Own: Governor Walker’s  changes to Rent-to-Own regulations was removed from the budget on a 10-6 vote.   

        Budget Update Increase in Child Support Collection Funding: The Finance Committee increased funding from $4.3 million to $8.5 million which will help capture $29.2 million in federal funding for a total of $37.7 million. In 2011, for every dollar spent on the state's child support programs the state collected $6.44 - about $1 more than the national average.

        Budget Update State Property Sales: Sales of state property will have to be approved by the Joint Committee on Finance and Building Commission. The administration will also have to provide a cost-benefit analysis of proposed sales, report on the estimated value of the property, and the cost of retiring debt on the property.  

        Budget Update Changes to State Health Plans: State workers and retirees who smoke will have to pay an extra $50 for their health care a month. Also, the committee voted to create high-deductible plan and health savings accounts for state employees.     
        Budget Update UW System: The committee has removed a net of $183.8 million in GPR (and 13 GPR positions) though nearly half of that comes from a transfer of $89.4 million to the state compensation reserves and is not a true cut. Much of the remaining cut would be offset by program revenue reserves designated for programs named in the budget. The committee voted to base budget reductions of $32.8 million annually, or $65.6 million over the biennium. The base budget reduction was outlined in Walker's errata letter.

1.      The Board of Regents must propose a methodology for calculating tuition reserves and propose a limit for those reserves
Freeze undergraduate tuition and freeze allocated segregated fees (those controlled by student governments for various uses)

2.      Remove the proposed autonomy granted in Walker's budget for UW and UW-Madison to set compensation plans. The motion would move the money set aside for the plans (the $89.4 million in GPR previously mentioned) into the compensation reserves
Require the Board of Regents to allocate $10 million annually to incentive grants from its reserves, rather than fund the programs with GPR

3.      Require the Board of Regents to allocate money for the Carbone Cancer Center, Medical School Programs and flexible degree program   
        Budget Update Transportation Omnibus motionApproves the governor's recommendation to provide an additional $400,000 in segregated funds to reflect a re-estimate, but would create a transfer of GPR to the transportation fund in the second year of each biennium to cover disaster aid payments made in excess of $1 million for any single disaster and would prohibit paying aid in excess of $1 million for a single disaster unless approved by the Governor and JFC, under 14-day passive review.

1.      Increase the mileage aid rate to $2,167 per mile for 2015 and thereafter. Provide an increase of $1.4 mil in SEG funding

2.      Increase in calendar year county aid from $94.6 mil to $96.88 million for calendar year 2015. Provide a 2.4 percent increase after that. Also provide a $567,000 SEG funding increase in 2014-15 to fund increased total distribution  
        Around the Country

Obama Defends Drone Strikes: President Obama on Thursday defended his administration's aggressive use of drone strikes in the war on terror, even as he announced steps that could reduce reliance on the program.   In a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama said the U.S. drones program was legal and argued strikes had been effective in fighting extremists who launched the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

The New York Times: Obama Acts to Curtail Drones

NPR: Breaking Down Obamas New Blueprint for Fighting Terrorism 
        Interesting Reads of the Week

The Washington Times: Homegrown Jihad

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