Public hearings on the budget require a substantial commitment of time -- hours of travel and waiting to earn your 3 minutes of microphone time. They have never been a particularly effective way to deliver a message and connect with legislators. Even more so this year.
How important are the 4 public hearings scheduled by the Joint Committee on Finance? (Note.)
Here's a summary of what co-chair Robin Vos (R-Burlington) has to say: Greater emphasis will be put on e-mails and other technology. For example, he does not intend to sit through a 36 hour public hearing when those comments could have easily been presented in writing. Every statement that is submitted will be read by the Co-Chairs.
In other words, he's really not that into you -- or what you have to say in a public forum.
Though well-intentioned, the 11 public hearings sponsored by Democratic legislators are nothing more than, pardon my bluntness, a series of feel-good exercises.
As an alternative, the Wisconsin Library Association encourages its members to schedule meetings with legislators at a library in the district.. Connecting with Republicans legislators is particularly important at this time. In at least four recent examples -- Bill Kramer, Evan Wynn, Amy Loudenbeck, and Tom Tiffany -- our message seems to resonate more strongly in small-group settings.
It's all about relationship-building. Better to have a conversation than read testimony.
Stay tuned for specific talking points. LD&L is still in the process of piecing together a final version and coordinating a series of partnership approaches to our advocacy efforts.