WLA Issues Legislative Alert on Maintenance of Effort Funding for Public Libraries

Posted by Lisa Strand on Wednesday, April 06, 2011 in State Legislation/Initiatives
WLA today issued the first of several planned legislative alerts to restore library programs that were cut as part of  the proposed 2011-13 State Executive Budget. First on the docket is support for retaining public library maintenance of effort funding.

Under current Wisconsin Statutes 43.15 (4)(c), in order to take advantage of the significant benefits of public library system membership, local libraries must meet several requirements. One membership requirement is that the local library be funded at a level that is not lower than the average funding for the previous three years.  This requirement is commonly referred to as maintenance of effort - or as WLA has dubbed it, maintenance of membership support (MOMS). (More about MOMS)

ACTION TO BE TAKEN:  Please contact your State Senator and Assembly Representative and ask for their support of either of the two MOE options described below.

1st OPTION:  separate bill
i.    WLA requests that the proposal to eliminate MOE as a requirement for public library system membership be removed from the Governor’s 2011-13 budget and be considered on its own merits as a separate bill.
ii.    Primary reasons for doing so:
1.    It’s a policy item
2.    It has no fiscal impact at the state level.

2nd OPTION:  compromise language in 2011-13 budget proposal
iii.    As an alternative, WLA recommends that municipalities and counties may cut up to 10% of the MOE appropriation in first year of biennium; no further cuts in second year of biennium.  This is similar to funding pattern for many other items in the Governor’s proposed budget.
iv.    Sunset provision, i.e., the compromise language is in effect for just the 2011-13 biennium.

3 things to keep in mind.
•    In the current political environment, Republicans legislators need to be our primary contacts.
•    Best approach.   Schedule a meeting at a public library in the district with each legislator and library representatives (directors, board members, local advocates).
•    Our ultimate goal is to forward this message to the members of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) – Republicans in particular.  Ideally, the message needs to be delivered by legislators sympathetic to the WLA position and by constituents (i.e. your library advocates) of JFC members.

As a result of conversations that took place on Library Legislative Day and at libraries in legislators’ home districts, we already have a number of Republicans who are sympathetic to WLA’s position on MOE.  (And we hope to identify more once we analyze the MOE survey results.)

Please keep WLA posted about the results of your contacts with state legislators on this matter.
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