WLA Close the Gap Fund ... Government Relations Services for 2016

Posted by Brigitte Rupp Vacha on Thursday, November 19, 2015 in State Legislation/Initiatives

If you believe that effective legislative lobbying is important for Wisconsin libraries, please contribute by clicking on this LINK


The WLA Board needs your immediate assistance in determining the level of funding support for professional government relations services in 2016.  The WLA lobbyist team facilitates timely and effective meetings with key legislative leaders, state agency officials and the Governor’s policy staff. 

A year ago the WLA Board increased our service contract with DeWitt Ross & Stevens more than threefold and then developed a tool and process to assess the return on investment.  Using the evaluation tool at their October 2 meeting, the LD&L Committee assessed the performance of DeWitt Associates as very strong in all 22 performance measures, and recommended to the WLA Board that the contract be renewed at the same level as 2015: $30,000.


In previous years, the government relations services was only funded at $7,000 annually.  The enhanced contract was funded at $30,000, using reserves funds to close the gap.  As one board member noted:  the difference between $7,000 and $30,000 is the difference between information and action. 

During 2015 legislative relationships and interactions with members has grown tremendously and we have been able to move two pieces of WLA legislation forward--one has passed the Legislature and was signed into law by the Governor on November 11; the other should be released for co-sponsors in the next week.  But we need a sustainable funding plan for maintaining this level of government relations services. In a time of spending cut-backs and austerity, we can no longer rely solely on volunteers to assure that face-time with decision makers occurs at regular and strategic intervals when more attention to the needs of libraries must be generated.  At the current level of support, connections by our lobbyists are made before an issue is out of control. Plus, WLA is now equipped to initiate policy changes for which our members have stepped up to demonstrate both compelling support and prior vetting for unintended consequences.


There is a plan to raise additional revenue through a restructuring and marketing of institutional membership dues, but the new revenue will not be available until 2017.  The immediate need is to raise additional funds to help us close the gap for 2016 so that we can renew the contract at the 2015 level.


The draft budget presented to the WLA Board on November 3 included $9,000 for government relations service.  We received $1,400.00 in "free will" donations from individual WLA members attending the WLA conference.  Thus the current funding gap is $19,600.


We are asking you to consider contributing to the 2016 government relations service budget so that we can renew the DeWitt contract at $30,000 and begin to work toward an increase in funding for the DPI contracts and systems aides for the 2017-19 budget.


If you believe that effective legislative lobbying is important for Wisconsin libraries and are having trouble accessing the link provided above, please cut and paste the following into your brower: https://wla.memberclicks.net/index.php?option=com_mc&;view=mc&mcid=form_208435


The WLA Board meets next on December 4 to approve the final budget for 2016.  Your pledges and donations will help the Board determine the allocation for government relations service.


Thank you!


John Pollitz, WLA President

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