On April 5, 2017* from 10:00 a.m.-6 p.m. the Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is scheduled to have a Public Hearing on the proposed 2017-2019 state budget at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis. This public hearing is one of a series held by the JFC prior to it making its final changes to the proposed budget before submitting it to the legislature for its review. Once this step is completed, the opportunity for public testimony and advocacy is no longer available.
This is your opportunity to let the JFC, which includes our Local Representative, Senator Alberta Darling, know what you think of the proposed 2017-2019 budget, and its impact on Public Education.
Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) has put together a series of helpful tips in preparing to give Public Testimony or submitting testimony if you cannot attend:
How to prepare effective testimony:
- Start with a clear ask: make explicit exactly what change you want to see. BE SPECIFIC.
- Tell your story. Why do you care so much about this issue? Why does it matter to you? Share specific moments that demonstrate the impacts of this issue in your life and your community or school.
- Connect it to others. Why should others care? How does the issue that matters to you matter to all of us? SHOW this through specific examples of how we are connected.
- Demonstrate the urgency. What change do you want to see and why does this change need to happen now?
- Get the facts. Talk to your superintendent or business manager and understand what your district needs. Is $200/pupil enough? How much spendable aid per pupil does your district need? Take advantage of our team of experts ready to vet your testimony for accuracy.
- Practice! 2 minutes of testimony is about 250 words. Make sure your story is clear, vivid and paints a local picture of why you care — and that you include your budget request. Be prepared to deliver your testimony in 2 minutes, as public testimony is usually strictly timed.
- Amplify your message! Once your testimony is ready to go, share it widely! It’s not enough that legislators hear what you have to say. Make sure your friends and neighbors know why you are standing up and speaking out, and what concerns are most pressing for your schools. Consider submitting your testimony as a letter to the editor of your local paper, share it online on your team’s website, post it on social media, and make a video sharing your concerns! Use #GoPublic and #WIBudget2017 and send your stories to hdb@WisconsinNetwork.org to help us track the show of support for our public schools.
- Make it official! When submitting written testimony (by email or snail mail), be sure to ask that your budget testimony be entered into the public record. Bring hard copies of your testimony to the JFC hearing with you to present for the same purpose.
- Let YOUR elected officials know you testified! Even if your elected officials aren’t members of the Joint Finance Committee, they will vote on the budget and need to know your concerns. CC your own legislators on all email correspondence to the JFC, and send them written copies of your oral testimony if you present it at the hearing.
In an effort to streamline and organize the hearing WPEN has also requested that if you intend to testify you register with them here. WPEN has put together a Budget Headquarters webpage, which is full of additional resources and tips on testifying and why it is important for citizens to be involved at this stage of the Budget Process. Be sure to review it fully and often.
*Public Hearing dates are subject to and often do change dates/times, without much notice to the public. Be sure to check back to the Budget HQ webpage regularly to confirm the date. You can also check the JFC legislative hearing schedule here. Advocates for Education-WFB will also update as information becomes available.