MADISON (WKOW) -- For the next week, the Joint Finance Committee will travel the state hosting four public hearings on Governor Scott Walker's (R-Wisconsin) two-year budget proposal. His proposal attempts to eliminate a $3.6 billion budget deficit by cutting nearly $800 million from education. The committee's first stop, UW Stevens Point.
The budget battle here in Wisconsin is just beginning, but Thursday was an important day for people outside of the Madison area to make their voices heard.
Jenny Ludeman of Amherst says, "I'm not sure you recognize the level of devastation this budget will impose on Wisconsin's communities, schools and children."
Teachers, farmers, students, retirees all wanting a chance to speak in front of the Joint Finance Committee. A chance to tell them exactly how Governor Scott Walker's two year budget impacts their job and everyday life.
Alberta Darling, JFC Co-Chairwoman says, "As we listen to these people, they're very good about what we need to do, but in order to do what they want us to do, we have to take something away from someone else. That's the tough part, that's why priorities are really important."
Each person was given two minutes to voice their concerns and ask questions about Governor Walker's two year budget. People wanting to know about public transportation, cuts to birth control, but most people wanted to hear about cuts to education.
Merrill Superintendent Dr. Lisa Snyder says, "These decisions will negatively affect the quality of what we've worked so hard to achieve in our schools. But what are our alternatives to cutting electives and closing schools? Sadly, there really are none."
Kevin Hefferan is a father of five. He says he moved to Stevens Point 14 years ago because of Wisconsin's reputation for having great education.
Hefferan says, "I loved living here, but I'm looking for other jobs because I realize we're in free fall, our education system is collapsing because of the budget cuts that are totally unwarranted."
Organizers anticipated more than 10,000 people would show up. They even moved the location from the student union to the gymnasium to accommodate the large crowds. It was at most half full throughout the day. As of noon Thursday, just over 150 people had registered to speak and another 40 wrote out their comments. Many speakers were from the Stevens Point area, but other traveled from all over the state including Green Bay, Menomonie and Madison.
All wanting their two minutes in front of the committee, two minutes they hope will make a difference. Brian Austin of Madison says, "I would rather have two minutes than nothing, staying silent is what got us here."
No one spoke in favor of the budget while our cameras were there.
There are three more public hearings scheduled across the state. Friday, the committee will be in Superior. They'll be in West Allis Monday and Neenah Wednesday.
The last public hearing now in Neenah was originally planned at Arcadia High School, but the district backed out. School leaders say they were concerned large crowds would disrupt classes.
MADISON (WKOW) -- The first of four public hearings on Gov. Scott Walker's two-year budget plan starts today in Stevens Point.
It's from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at UW-Stevens Point.
More than a hundred people have registered to speak at today's hearing before the state legislature's Joint Finance Committee. Each person gets two minutes to talk.