The Nonprofit Center recently hosted a meeting between area nonprofits and Senator Lena Taylor. Taylor discussed her role on the Joint Finance Committee, the biennial state budget process, and how nonprofits can advocate for their priorities not only at the upcoming hearing in Milwaukee, but throughout the year.
With many members voicing concern over national and state budget cuts, the Senator's visit was a way to ‘bring the lobbying to them," said Meagan Holman, NPC's Civic Engagement Manager. Representatives from 16 diverse nonprofits attended the session to share concerns and ideas with the Senator and learn about actions they can take to protect programs and the critical needs of those they serve.
State budget cuts could force many nonprofits to operate differently. To overcome those challenges, we must think and act strategically. Here are some places to start:
Testify or submit comments before a committee or hearing. Wisconsin's biennial budgeting process is an involved, public process that starts with the Governor’s Budget released on February 8, 2017. The Joint Finance Committee is tasked with developing its own version of the budget based on the Governor’s proposal, all for passage before July of this year.
“You can speak truth to Power, but Power might not listen. That doesn’t mean you stop trying,” said Senator Taylor, emphasizing the importance of testimony at hearings and formally submitted comments to committees. She encouraged nonprofits to take full advantage of these opportunities to make their priorities heard, and to keep coming back again and again.
The Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing in Milwaukee will be held around March 20th. Click HERE for more information.
Be bold, see budgets as moral documents. Budgets aren't just a bunch of numbers on a piece of paper. "Financial priorities reflect personal values," said Senator Taylor. She noted that different sets of priorities represented on the committee reflect radically different moral visions for Wisconsin.
Senator Taylor intends to protect vital programs that support the most vulnerable people in our communities and wants nonprofits to be aware of the Love & Faith initiative. A critical component of the initiative is aligning services to ensure that government agencies and the community are maximizing impact. More information can be found HERE.
Go from being a silo to a spoke in a wheel - all connected. Senator Taylor encourages all nonprofit leaders to be her allies by staying in regular communication with her office on what their needs and priorities are. While communicating your priorities directly to a committee is great, it can be even more powerful to unite voices from the sector. One way to support Senator Taylor’s unified voice to the Joint Finance Committee is by reviewing sections of the Governor’s Budget that are relevant to your organization and submitting notes to her office.
The Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee works to ensure that nonprofits can be as engaged and informed as possible, and we’re resolved to work harder than ever. We challenge you: What would you say to the Joint Finance Committee if you were to give testimony? What obstacles stand in your way?