Yesterday, Governor Tony Evers signed the 2021-23 state biennial budget, making 50 vetoes to the version passed by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. We are pleased to see that the Governor approved the proposed increase to county conservation department staff funding in the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection budget.
Though we fell short of the $13.0 million annual base funding goal that was our target for this budget cycle, we are pleased that county conservation departments will receive a one-time increase of $2,065,900 for a total of $11,030,000 in 2021-22, and a one-time increase of $2,315,900 for a total of $11,280,000 in 2022-23.
It’s important to note that of the numerous provisions from the Water Quality Task Force introduced as legislation or budget initiatives, increases to county conservation staffing funding and producer-led watershed grant program funding were the only ones to be included in the budget.
Based on the increase in the budget, DATCP will be able to come very close to meeting the statutory goal of funding 100% of the first position and 70% of the second positions, but will not have any funding available for the 3rd positions. Preliminary calculations show DATCP can meet:
- 100% of the first position requests at the 100% rate.
- 98.55% of the “eligible” 2nd position requests at the 70% rate. The reason for the “eligible” 2nd position requests: some counties whose 1st position is less than $75,000 instead receive a minimum allocation of $75,000 in the first round. This ends up reducing the amount they are eligible for as part of the 2nd position request.
- 0% of the 3rd position at the 50% rate.
DATCP anticipates providing specific county funding amounts via the 2022 Preliminary Joint Allocation Plan, targeted to be released on July 23.
WI Land+Water is grateful to our members for the hard work and commitment they showed to advocating for this vitally important funding. We will continue to work toward leveraging increased awareness and support of county conservation efforts into sufficient and sustained funding for the important work performed by our members.
See the Governor’s budget veto message and list of line-item vetoes here.