Thursday, June 16, 2011

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Budget at 3:05 AM

As reported by the Wispolitics budget blog.

The vote:  60-38.  All Republicans voting in favor.   All Democrats voting against.  One Independent voting with the Republicans.  (Here's a report from the Miwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

The 41-page Republican amendment includes the compromise language for (1) broadband federal grant and (2) WiscNet.

Nearly 40 Dem amendments were offered, including one addressing the broadband federal grant and WiscNet.  All were defeated.  This outcome should be no surprise in this highly-charged, partisan political environment.

(1) Delete the Joint Finance provision prohibiting that Board of Regents, the UW System, any UW institution, or the UW-Extension from receiving or expending funds related to the Building Community Capacity through Broadband (BCCB) grant that was awarded to the UW-Extension. The Board of Regents, the UW System, any UW institution, or the UW-Extension would not be prohibited from participating in the BCCB project and would not be penalized for committing or distributing funds related to the project after May 1, 2011.

Instead, specify that UW-Extension could not commit any funds to facilities under this project to which such funds were not committed prior to June 15, 2011, unless approved by the Joint Committee on Finance.

(2)  Delete the provision approved by Joint Finance that would have prohibited WiscNet from remaining an office or department within the UW-Madison Division of Information Technology beginning on July 1, 2012, and restore the related funding ($1,400,000 PR in 2012-13). Modify the requirement that the Legislative Audit Bureau conduct a program audit and a financial audit of the Board of Regents' use of telecommunications services and relationship with WiscNet as follows: (a) require the Legislative Audit Bureau to prepare a financial and performance evaluation audit of the use of broadband services by the Board of Regents instead of requiring program and financial audits of the Board's use of telecommunications services as under Joint Finance; (b) specify that the audit would examine issues of statutory compliance, competition, cost shifting, financing, collaboration, and access when considering the current structure and possible recommendations going forward; and (c) require that the Legislative Audit Bureau file its report under this section by January 1, 2013.

As for the next step, reliable sources say that the Senate is on board with the Assembly compromise.  (This does not, of course, get you off the hook for contacting your State Senator and requesting his or her support of the broadband and Wiscnet compromise language.)

As for the rest of the process......
.....well, let's just say our attention must not waver.

Our biggest challenge, perhaps, will be to convince the Governor not to veto the compromise language.  You can be sure that the telcos are already lobbying the Governor big-time.

At this point, please take the time to thank your Assembly representatives for their support.  And I'd like to thank everyone for their diligence, hard work, persistence, and full attention to this matter.   There's still more work to do, however.

Related WiscNet posts:
Wispolitics budget blog.  (6/15/2011)
Wisconsin ranks 43rd for broadband Internet coverage.  (6/15/2011)
Ron Kind news release.  (6/15/2011)
Assembly 8.  (6/15/2011)
Highest level alert.  (6/15/2011)
This is what democracy looks like.  (6/15/2011)
WSTA's day of disappointment.  (6/14/2011)
They can hear us now.  (6/14/2011)
Appleton Post-Crescent editorial.  (6/14/2011)
YouTube video.  (6/14/2011)
Hedberg Public Library promotes WiscNet.  (6/14/2011)
League of Wisconsin Municipalities press release.  (6/14/2011)
UW General Counsel opinion.  (6/13/2011)
Ars Technica WiscNet coverage.  (6/13/2011)
Wausau Daily Herald editorial.  (6/13/2011)
If your representative is Robin Vos...   (9/13/2011)
Baraboo School Board unhappy with JFC WiscNet action.  (6/13/2011)
WiscNet debate from the NE WI prospective.  (6/12/2011)
David Weinhold letter to editor.  (6122010
Rep. Moelpske's statement. (6/11/2011)
COLAND letter to Sen. Fitzgerald.  (6/10/2011)
Rhonda Puntney's op-ed piece.  (6/10/2011)
Nass letter to Fitzgerald and Vos.  (6/9/2011)
CINC response.  (6/9/2011)
UW response.  (6/9/2011)
Manna from heaven.  (6/8/2011)

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