STATE BUDGET UPDATE: Joint Finance Committee Approves Statewide Talent Attraction Initiative

The Legislature’s budget-writing committee – the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) – met last Thursday, May 25, to continue rewriting Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed 2023-25 biennial state budget bill – the $104 billion two-year spending plan for the state. The committee’s work was of particular interest to WEDA, as  the 16-member panel of state lawmakers took up budget issues related to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The WEDA Government Affairs Team is pleased to report that the Finance Committee voted to require WEDC to dedicate funds for statewide talent attraction efforts that are overseen by the agency. As you know, one of WEDA’s state budget/legislative priorities for the current session is to secure $5 million in funding for statewide talent action efforts focused on military veterans.

While the motion approved by the Committee was a bit different than WEDA’s initial talent attraction proposal, we were were very pleased with the motion (approved on a 12-4 vote), which would do the following:

    • Require WEDC to expend at least $4,000,000 from its existing state appropriations during the 2023-25 biennium for talent attraction and retention initiatives.
    • Specify that WEDC, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs, must expend at least $2,000,000 of this funding during the biennium on efforts to attract and retain veterans to Wisconsin’s workforce.
    • Require WEDC to evaluate its talent attraction and retention initiatives, including program outcomes and the number of veterans discharged that choose Wisconsin for their first move, and report its findings to the Legislature.

In addition, the Committee increased WEDC’s base budget over the biennium, providing additional funding that can be used to fund the talent attraction campaign. JFC approved the following budget for WEDC over the 2023-25 biennium:

It is fully expected that the talent attraction initiative approved by JFC will remain in the final version of the state budget bill passed by the full Legislature and sent to the Governor’s desk. Thank you to all WEDA members who reached out to their local lawmakers on this important issue.