Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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First budget hearing held today

The first public hearing regarding Gov. Scott McCallum’s budget deficit proposal will take place today, drawing citizens and legislators, state lawmakers said.

The governor?s proposed budget amendment calls for a $51 million cut for UW Systems, the elimination of shared revenue among municipalities, and the use of proceeds from the state’s tobacco settlement to pay for the state’s $1.1 billion deficit.

The state’s economy had difficulties last year, but was worsened after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The state’s general fund is being used to account for shortfalls but could run out as early as May if the budget adjustment bill hasn’t passed the Legislature.

Under the budget deficit proposal, cuts in funding will affect everyone in the state.

Mike Browne, spokesman for Chuck Chvala, D-Madison, said UW-Madison students should be interested in the governor’s proposal.

“The proposed budget should be a concern for UW students. It results in scaling back the number of classes,” Browne said.

UW students would also face an increase in tuition and elimination of the Madison Initiative, a program with goals of keeping high-profile faculty from leaving the university for other institutions, if the governor’s plan passes with no amendments.

Although proposed cuts to UW System funding are drastic, the elimination of shared revenue in the next 30 months is likely to be the focus of the debate.

“The proposed budget [plan] cuts shared revenues of the city,” Browne said. “This can impact garbage disposal as well as law enforcement.”

Shared revenues are funds the state distributes to local governments. These monies help keep property taxes down as well as aid in various other public services like garbage disposal and the removal of leaves in the fall. That aid amounts to roughly $1 billion annually.

Some cities are expected to feel the cuts of shared revenue particularly severely. Milwaukee stands to lose $248 million in state aid, roughly 42 percent of its operating budget.

Communities across Wisconsin will feel a tighter squeeze under the proposed budget.

Supporters of McCallum say cuts are necessary to avoid cutting school aid, reducing payments to Medicaid, and steering Wisconsin into economic failure.

Area leaders have devised a number of ways to get as many people involved as possible due to expectations there will be an abundance of potential testifiers. Those ways include live Internet broadcasts, alternate rooms in the Capitol with live video feeds, and public listening sessions.

Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, said Assembly Democrats will hold four-dozen public listening sessions.

“The hearing is likely to be crowded and long lasting,” Black said. “Chances of getting heard aren’t good. So Assembly Democrats have set up four dozen public listening sessions around the state.”

Those who cannot log on to the Internet can attend public listening sessions in the coming week. These are designed to let people unable to attend the hearing at the Capitol voice their opinions on the budget.

A 7 p.m. listening session will be held tomorrow evening at Randall Elementary School, 1802 Regent St. In addition, there will be over 50 additional listening sessions across the state.

The public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. in room 412E of the Capitol.

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