Wisconsin’s new 2-year budget has been signed into law, shining light on the funding landscape we can expect for biking projects during the biennium.
After months of deliberations, meetings, changes, and votes, Wisconsin now has a new 2-year spending plan following Governor Evers’ signature of the state’s biennial budget. As you might imagine, budgeting for items that impact cyclists is an important initiative for the Bike Fed. Here’s where the budget landed on Bike Fed priorities:
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a huge asset to outdoor enthusiasts throughout Wisconsin. Whether you bike, walk, hunt, hike, fish – whatever it may be – if you recreate outdoors, you’ve likely benefitted from a project that received funding from Knowles-Nelson. Ensuring the funding and longevity of this program is a top priority of the Bike Fed.
When Governor Evers unveiled his spending plan, we were excited. His proposal increased funding by more than double, and extended the program’s reauthorization from 2 years to 10. These changes would do wonders for our state’s great outdoors, those who recreate, our tourism industry, our economy – you’d be hard-pressed to find an area that Knowles-Nelson doesn’t positively impact. However, we knew that it was likely the Republican majority members on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) would not be on board with these bold changes.
After a lot of deliberation, JFC opted to reduce Governor Evers’ proposal, agreeing to a 4-year reauthorization at $33.25 million each year.
While funding remained at the same level it has for the last two years, the allocation of those funds within the program took a step in a positive direction. The Local Units of Government (LUG) allocation was increased from $6 million to $9 million, meaning more towns, villages, cities, and counties will have the means to expand outdoor spaces for Wisconsin residents and visitors.
The lengthening of the reauthorization from 2 years to 4 is also a big win for Knowles-Nelson. Bigger projects can take years to complete – having a known level of funding and stability for the program will only enhance Wisconsin’s conservation abilities and efforts.
Transportation Alternatives Funding (TAP) Program
TAP funding is a key pot of money for building, expanding, and maintaining our state’s trails. Funding for the program has been frozen at just over $7 million annually since 2014, despite the state receiving applications for almost 7 times that amount each year.
Governor Evers included a small but significant $1 million boost to TAP funding in his budget proposal, bringing the new total to $8 million. Because of the nature of trail, walking, and biking infrastructure, an extra $1 million could go a long way in impacting the number of projects that can be funded in Wisconsin.
Despite members of JFC hearing from hundreds of Bike Fed members asking them to keep the additional dollars in the budget, the Republican majority members removed it from their budget bill.
With no vetoes from the Governor affecting TAP funding, the program will remain at $7 million each year for the next two years.