MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee plans to hold three in-person public hearings on Gov. Tony Evers' $91 billion state budget proposal, with one virtual hearing for the first time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The in-person hearings will be in Whitewater, Rhinelander and Menomonie.
“We are not going to hide in Madison," said Rep. Mark Born, one of the two Republican co-chairs of the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, at a news conference announcing the hearings on Wednesday. "We are going to get out there and hear from the people just as this committee always does.”
Traditionally, there is a hearing in or near Milwaukee, but not this year. The closest one is in Whitewater, which is about 50 miles away.
“I certainly feel that Whitewater is in southern and southeastern Wisconsin," Born said in defending not holding a hearing in Milwaukee. "It depends on who you ask. Where does northern Wisconsin start?”
Born also noted that the April 28 virtual hearing would allow for participation by anyone in the state.
The other hearings are April 9 at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; April 21 at the Hodag Dome in Rhinelander; and April 22 at UW-Stout in Menomonie.
After the hearings, the budget committee will hold agency briefings before taking votes on making changes to Evers' budget plan before the full Legislature votes on it sometime this summer.