The legislative budget writing panel refuses to discuss redistricting at today’s (Thursday’s) meeting.
State redistricting will not be put into the budget — at least, not at the hands of the Joint Finance Committee co-chairs. Democratic Representative Jennifer Shilling (La Crosse) asks Committee Co-Chair, Republican Representative Robin Vos (Rochester), about redrawing legislative and congressional district lines.
“I’ll just ask the question point blank. Can you assure us that we will not be doing redistricting in the budget?”
Vos replies, “I can’t speak for Senator Darling; I can only speak for myself. I can guarantee you that we will not be doing redistricting over any part that I have control, which is when the finance committee ends and it goes to the floor.”
Shilling wants to have public scrutiny; she worries the budget would be unamendable in the Assembly. The state legislature is required to redraw districts every ten years based upon the results of the federal census.
Vos and Co-Chair, Republican Senator Alberta Darling (River Hills) admit the full legislature could take up the issue; Vos says whatever happens after JFC is beyond his control. “I can’t do anything beyond that. I’m not the speaker; I’m not the majority leader. All I can say is in front of this committee where I have control we will not be doing redistricting in.”
Shilling then turns to Darling, who agrees with Vos.
Democratic Representative Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee) wants a nonpartisan commission to be involved in the redistricting process, but Vos refused to take up her amendment.
Vos says the committee plans to finish work on the two-year budget plan by June 4th.
The JFC also acted to cut the amount of membership dues Wisconsin pays to the National Conference on State Legislatures. The state currently pays $196,000 annually; the committee agrees to cut $100,000 in payments over the next two years. Senator Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) opposes the cut, saying the organization is a valuable resource. Grigsby hopes services won’t be reduced as a result, and jokes maybe they should have a bake sale or car wash to raise funds.
The panel also approves the governor’s recommendations to winnow down the Secretary of State duties, transferring them to other departments.
The Department of Public Instruction and Wisconsin Technical College System items were on the agenda, but are delayed for another day.
JFC also votes to limit Stewardship purchases over the next nine years.