The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee held hearing at Neenah High School Wednesday, to hear what the public thinks about Governor Scott Walker’s two year budget proposal. Most of those testifying asked the panel to remove proposed cuts to municipalities, health care programs, and farmland preservation. Others, like Barbara Linder, spoke out against cuts to programs that help low income families. “Cutting the homestead and earned income tax credits that assist seniors and the working poor will result in a tax increase for them at the same time that the big tax breaks are being given to the CEOs and the large corporations,” said Linder. “Is this fair? I don’t think so.”
Neenah Mayor George Scherck told the panel that cuts to shared revenue and other programs will have a major impact. He said municipalities need more help from the state. “In 1983, forty-five percent of Neenah’s operating budget was financed by shared revenue. In 2012, if everything passes as proposed, it will be five-point-nine percent,” said Scherk, who added that he was especially concerned with the loss of $302,000 in recycling grants and the reduction to the city’s 2011 recycling grant by forty percent.
Neenah Joint School District board president Scott Thompson said the schools would take a major hit in the governor’s budget. “With the proposed budget, Neenah’s now looking at about a $4.6 million shortfall,” said Thompson. He said the uncertainty over Governor Walker’s budget repair bill complicates the picture. “We don’t know the status of the budget repair bill, so we don’t know if we’ll have those tools, to be able to make the necessary changes in order to minimize those cuts. If the budget goes through and we don’t get the tools that we need, we are looking at significant layoffs in our district.”
The Joint Finance Committee has been traveling the state to hold public hearings over the past couple of weeks. Wednesday’s hearing is the final one away from the Capitol.
Rick Schuh, WHBY