MADISON, WI – The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee met twice this week to continue its work on the 2021-2023 state budget. In the course of its deliberations on June 8 and June 10, the committee approved two items championed by State Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake): 1) funding for the renovation and expansion of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (WVDL) in Barron, and 2) an exemption from tipping fees for waste-to-energy facilities, including the facility operated in Barron County.
“Both of these budget items are great news for Barron County and the surrounding area,” Representative Armstrong said. “I’m grateful to the members of the Finance Committee for their support. It’s been a good week!”
On June 8, the Finance Committee approved $9,555,000 in borrowing for renovating and expanding WVDL-Barron (Motion 84, Item 49).
“The Barron lab is a vital part of the region's agricultural economy, particularly the poultry and dairy industries,” Representative Armstrong said, “but the current facility is badly overcrowded and out of date. This makes it difficult for it to perform the animal testing and other services it provides. When the only other in-state option is the Madison lab, many area producers are having to send samples to Minnesota or Iowa for testing instead. The Finance Committee’s action will help bring the Barron lab back to full efficiency and effectiveness.”
On June 10, the Finance Committee approved a 30% exemption from tipping fees for waste-to-energy facilities (Motion 102, Item 7).
“Barron County is home to one of only two waste-to-energy incinerators in Wisconsin,” Representative Armstrong explained. “The Finance Committee’s vote will help the Barron County and La Crosse facilities to be more cost-effective and perhaps make future facilities feasible. This exemption was originally introduced in 2020 by former Rep. Romaine Quinn and Sen. Janet Bewley, and it passed the Assembly with bipartisan support, but COVID shut down the legislative session before the Senate could vote on it, so we had to revisit it this session. Governor Evers included the exemption in his budget proposal, and I advocated to keep it in.”
Once the Finance Committee version of the budget is complete, it will come before the Assembly and Senate for votes and then go to Governor Evers for his approval.