STEVENS POINT - In a session of give and take, hundreds of people are voicing their concerns with the proposed two-year state budget before listening lawmakers.
"Whether they support certain pieces of it or are opposed to certain provisions I think that it is vital that the public have an opportunity to come and talk to members of the Joint Finance Committee and area legislators," said Democratic State Senator Julie Lassa, of Stevens Point.
Each person had a strict two minute time limit to talk. As their time was winding down a reminder sounded for them to wrap it up.
The host of the hearing, the Joint Committee of Finance is made up of 16 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. They are in charge of reviewing all proposals and revenues including the biennial budget.
"Good ideas come out of these public hearings and if people can say here are good ways to save money here or opportunity to make the budget better, we're going to listen and hopefully put some of that to practice," said Republican State Representative Robin Vos, of Rochester.
The Stevens Point hearing is the first of a series of public hearings on the biennial budget. The hearings are only for the proposed budget, not the collective bargaining law.
Members of the Howard-Suamico School District traveled to Stevens Point for the hearings, hoping to sway the committee's stance on state aid for schools.
"Two minutes is difficult," said Teresa Ford, the school board's treasurer. "Every word has to have meaning and you can't include any fluff so it was difficult but we prepared it beforehand."
"We know that our legislators are very busy," said Lisa Botsford, the president of the Howard-Suamico School District. "I know they've got quite a fast and furious agenda over the next few weeks and we really appreciate their time and energy to come listen to us."
"Some of these changes will be made," said Lassa. "Others you just have to continue fighting for."
Lawmakers from both sides say the public's input is taken seriously and as long as the input is constructive, they will consider it for the final budget.
Meanwhile, a public hearing set for Wednesday at Arcadia High School has been moved to Neenah. According to the committee's co-chairwoman, Republican Sen. Alberta Darling, the district worried a large number of people attending the hearing would disrupt classes.
Rep. Dean Kaufert and Senate President Mike Ellis, both Neenah Republicans, requested the committee move the hearing there. The hearing remains set for Wednesday.
Other hearings are scheduled for Superior and West Allis.
First responders helped ring in the holidays at the 45th annual Howard-Suamico Christmas Parade.
Christmas is just two and half weeks away, and kids and families are getting into the holiday spirit.
Single digit temps around the area caused problems in the Fox Valley Saturday morning.
The frigid temperatures forced some area communities to cancel their weekend Christmas celebrations. But New London braved the cold for its annual Holiday of Wonder Parade.
Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's all of the injuries, but many Packers fans are saying "no thanks," to this weekend's Packers game.
With only a little snow on the ground in places, snowmobilers are ready for more. In the Lakewood area, trails are not yet open, but clubs are gearing up for an early start to the season.