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A Budget for Wisconsin’s Waters

Governor Evers Introduces Pro-Water Budget as the Legislature Begins Work on Wisconsin’s Two-Year Fiscal Plan

By Wisconsin Lakes Staff

WI Governor Tony Evers

Governor Tony Evers introduced a strongly pro-conservation and pro-water budget proposal to the Legislature last month. With the understanding that the state is in just the opening moments of the process to pass the two-year state budget for 2021-23, Wisconsin Lakes applauds Governor Evers for standing up for clean water to protect our health as well as our prized lakes, streams, and wetlands, for calling for resiliency in the face of a changing climate, and for encouraging responsible outdoor recreation which benefits our rural communities.

The Governor’s proposal features a number of initiatives that would positively impact our lakes. We’ll be talking in more detail about those efforts as we move forward through the budgeting process, but here’s a highlight of a few items Wisconsin Lakes is especially interested in:

  • Funding for County Conservation Staff – While we’d like to see county land & water conservation departments fully funded, this proposal is a good start and includes dollars targeted towards climate resilience efforts by counties
  • Boating Enforcement Aid – The governor would add $900,000 to the program providing local governments assistance in recreational boating enforcement, an important start with boating becoming more and more popular and boats becoming bigger and more impactful on safety and the lake environment
  • Reauthorization of Stewardship – The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, which helps pay for public land acquisitions, is a crucial piece towards protecting pristine shorelines. The budget proposal would reauthorize the program for 10 years with $70 million in annual funding
  • Water Quality Bills – The Governor is proposing a number of measures that if enacted would help improve water quality in the state

Now that the Governor’s proposal has been introduced, attention shifts to the Wisconsin Legislature’s powerful Joint Finance Committee. Made up of members of the Assembly and the Senate and controlled by the Republican majority, over the next several months this committee will craft the final bill that is voted on by the full Legislature. 

The first step in this process is for the committee to hold public hearings, the dates for which they have not yet been announced. Individual legislators, as well as Assembly Democrats, are also planning events to gain public input on the budget.

Watch the Wisconsin Lake News and other communications from Wisconsin Lakes for more information about the items under consideration, how you can express your thoughts and opinions during the process, and as key votes and decisions are made.