The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee wrapped up its work last week. Unfortunately, the committee removed or reduced many of our priority items, especially regarding clean drinking water.

The changes include:

  • Rather than creating a Bureau of Natural Science with five full-time staff positions, it only funded two new staff positions and no bureau. This means our water will be at greater risk of being contaminated by emerging pollutants like PFAS.
  • It slashed nearly $6 million in bonding authority for the Soil and Water Resource Management (SWRM) program. This means less assistance for farmers to complete important projects aimed at reducing water pollution.
  • It reduced the proposed funding for county conservationists, the boots on the ground working with farmers to reduce pollution, by nearly $4 million.Without proper funding for our county conservationists and their departments, we lose critical land and water management capabilities at the local level.
  • It eliminated entirely a proposed budget item for $40 million to help replace lead service lines. This will lead to a greater risk of lead poisoning in children across the state, which has dire consequences on health.
  • It only funded four of the five positions to oversee CAFOs and refused to increase permit fees for CAFOs that would have helped fund these new positions. This means taxpayers, not polluters, will continue to bear the cost of working to keep manure pollution out of our drinking water.

The members of the committee who voted against clean water showed a willingness to negotiate with our health and our children’s future rather than do the right thing by them. They have demonstrated an antiquated and out-of-touch understanding of the reality we’re facing in the state.

The budget process is far from over. This fight is just beginning. We’re working every day inside and outside of the State Capitol, across Wisconsin, on the ground, with allies, and with you to ensure our water is clean and safe.

Please contact your legislators Representative Gae Magnafici at (608) 267-2365 and Senator Patty Schachtner at (608) 266-7745 to let them know that you’re disappointed that Gov. Evers’ budget has been stripped of important resources, and urge them to fight for clean drinking water

— From Wisconsin Conservation Voters