Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wisconsin Library Association Legislative Update

At this time, members of WLA’s Library Development & Legislation Committee and Department of Public Instruction/Division for Libraries & Technology staff are monitoring the progress of Gov. Walker’s 2013-15 executive budget.

We are especially paying close attention to the following items:\
  • Universal Service Fund (particularly as it applies to the funding of the library items in the DPI budget, which are shown in table below) 
  • Common School Fund (insure its appropriate use; watch for proposals to divert funds) 
  • Broadband (improving access to affordable, sufficient, and sustainable broadband for public libraries and schools)

In the Governor’s Executive Budget for 2013-15, three Department of Public Instruction library items received modest increases in funding.

Funding for public library systems remains flat.

Universal Service Fund (USF) performance audit.   In a January 30, 2013, letter to Governor Walker, Wisconsin CALLS and the Wisconsin State Telecommunications Association requested that a provision be included in the 2013-15 executive budget to require the Legislature Audit Bureau to annually conduct a financial and performance audit of at least one non-Public Service Commission. USF-funded program, e.g., public library system funding, BadgerLink, statewide service contracts, Newsline for the Blind.

This provision is not included in Gov. Walker’s 2013-15 executive budget, although it still could be required via other means. Another item receiving close attention. (Note: Financial audits of the USF have been conducted 12 times since October 1998.)

Continue your library advocacy and relationship building

In your continuing contacts with your state legislators and their staff members, please emphasize the following topics:

  • The value of the regional coordination, cooperation, and technology support provided by public library systems, which helps each of Wisconsin’s 388 member libraries provide services and programs to their customers in a more effective and economical manner. 
  • The critical importance of sufficient broadband in such areas as 
    • Regional online library catalogs 
    • Fulltext, online magazine and newspaper databases 
    • Wireless Internet access 
    • E-government, job searching and training support 
    • Libraries as content providers 
    • Web 2.0 (graphics and video) 
(66% of Wisconsin’s public libraries report their current broadband speed is not sufficient.)

Where we are in the budget process. (Red arrow)

As of March 13th, Joint Finance has not scheduled any public hearings on the budget.

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