The Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee want to make sure Wisconsinites in all areas of the Badger State have the opportunity to appear before the committee. Representative Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) says individuals are asking about meeting times and locations. “It’s not atypical to have hundreds of people that come to these hearings and wait hours and hours and hours — sometimes all day — for an opportunity of two minutes to speak before the committee.”
Shilling, a member of the legislative budget panel, says there needs to be at least six meetings throughout the state to give everyone the opportunity to discuss Wisconsin’s next biennium budget plan. “I think this will probably be pretty contentious as we move forward through this budget debate and want to make sure that the public has an opportunity for input and access and transparency to this budget bill.”
Shilling says it’s really important to take the legislature outside of Madison — to the people of the state — because many people can’t take time away from work and family to travel to the capital city. She says the opinions and concerns of taxpayers need to be heard and debated in the light of day.
Four Democrats sit on the 16-person committee, including Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) and Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) — both in the Assembly, and two Senators — Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Robert Jauch (D-Poplar).
There’s been talk about holding the public hearings at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee and the Kohl Center in Madison, due to huge interest, but the office of JFC co-chair Robin Vos (R-Burlington) is against that idea. He did say, however, he’d like to have hearings away from the Capitol building to hear from citizens outside of Dane County.
Hearing times and locations have not yet been scheduled.