The Latest: DNR secretary defends eliminating magazine

The Latest on state agency budget briefings to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (all times local):

11 a.m.

Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp is defending Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to eliminate the agency’s magazine in front of the Legislature’s budget committee.

Walker’s proposed 2017-19 budget calls for eliminating the DNR’s Natural Resources magazine. Stepp told the committee during a briefing Thursday that DNR staff are spending time researching and writing articles, taking time from their core duties, and the DNR’s digital media efforts reach thousands more people.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, a Stevens Point Democrat, questioned whether doing away with the magazine has anything to do with trying to mute discussion of climate change. Stepp responded ending the magazine is a business decision.


8:08 a.m.

The University of Wisconsin, K-12 schools and the Department of Natural Resources will all be in the spotlight as the Legislature’s budget-writing committee completes three days of briefings.

The Joint Finance Committee meeting on Thursday comes after a 14-hour marathon Wednesday that saw Republicans on the panel disagreeing sharply with key planks of Gov. Scott Walker’s budget.

The final hearing promises to bring more of the same. Lawmakers have already voiced displeasure with Walker’s proposal to cut UW tuition 5 percent in the second year of the budget.

And while Walker has won praise for his plan to raise K-12 aid by $649 million, some have questioned where the money would come from and whether it’s too much.

Walker’s changes to the DNR have also drawn a backlash.