At the State Bar of Wisconsin's most recent Board of Governors meeting, President-elect Dean R. Dietrich addressed concerns about the challenges the Board will face when looking at the State Bar budget for the next fiscal year.
Jan. 4, 2023 – At the State Bar of Wisconsin’s most recent Board of Governors meeting, President-elect Dean R. Dietrich addressed concerns about the challenges the board will face when looking at the State Bar budget for the next fiscal year.
The board – a 52-member body primarily elected by the membership as representatives in 16 districts – oversees the policy making and operation of the organization.
In that role, the board must approve an organizational budget annually, after budget requests are submitted, reviewed, and adjusted by the State Bar’s Finance Committee. The State Bar’s Executive Committee will receive and ultimately propose an annual budget for board approval.
In his president-elect message, Dietrich offered background information regarding the revenues and expenses of the State Bar, and explained the many challenges the board will face when considering its next operational budget. Dietrich noted that:
It’s going to be a tight budget! That message has been clearly shared with staff.
The Finance Committee at its November meeting began to dig into assumptions and pressures faced by this forthcoming budget.
We are under pressure from inflation and other economic realities that will minimize our ability to take on added funding requests.
Facility costs are going up in general and as it relates to an aging building.
Inflation is outpacing our ability to grow compensation of employees – wages and benefits – which in turn could place us at a disadvantage in the labor market.
Although past budget processes have shown we have no “dead wood” in our programming, we will need to scrutinize closely any new programming that is proposed, and we may need to consider whether we are already trying to do too much. There must be a proper alignment of our staffing, capacity, and programming.
Investment income is an important part of State Bar finances. However, we do not typically balance our budget upon future estimates of investment income. Uncertainties in the market further suggest that an overreliance on investment income would not be prudent.
Dietrich also explained that the Finance Committee will continue, with full awareness of these challenges, to work toward preparing a balanced budget, which will then be proposed and presented to the Executive Committee and the board in February.