Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Budget includes exemption of county library expenditures from levy limits

Late last year, WLA met with Department of Administration officials to seek an exemption of county library expenditures from any levy limits imposed in the next biennium. The executive budget released in February contains such an exemption, although WLA will seek an adjustment to the language that will clarify that state statutes require that county payments be made to public libraries (not to the counties themselves) and that payments to libraries both within and across county borders be covered by this exemption. A March 2 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel describes how the bill would affect libraries in several counties.

Joint Finance Committee Schedules Public Hearings

The state legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will hold 6 public hearings on the state budget, beginning March 20 in Milwaukee. The hearings are the next step in the budget approval process, which is supposed to be completed prior to the end of the fiscal year (June 30). Library supporters are urged to contact the JFC members to voice their support for library funding. WLA will be sending calls to action next week.

The executive budget includes an increase in public library system aids of 4 percent in each year of the biennium, an increase in BadgerLink funding to allow current services to continue, and a much-needed increase in funding for the four statewide resources contracts. For a more complete summary of budget and other pending legislative issues, see the WLA's Legislative Status Report.

Waukesha Schools Cut Elementary Library Funds

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Waukesha School Board voted March 5 to eliminate 62 full-time positions, including all but one librarian for its 17 elementary schools. The cuts would also increase class sizes and severely cut gifted programs and elementary guidance programs. The school district estimates it needs cuts of $3.4 million to avoid a deficit in the next school year.