Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, November 12, 2012

Boggs helps craft, evaluate Wisconsin budget

Breann Boggs


In 2013, Breann Boggs became a fiscal analyst with the Washington state Senate Committee Services.

As an analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Administration's budget office, alum Breann Boggs helps the governor's office and state agencies devise the state's two-year spending plan.

With higher education as Boggs' focus, she analyzes budgetary options and policy issues related to the University of Wisconsin System, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the Higher Education Aids Board.

As a rookie analyst in 2010, the 2008 La Follette grad participated in informational briefings and coordinated statutory language changes and fiscal changes related to large-scale higher education reform. "Specifically, I worked on the governor's proposal to establish the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an entity separate from the University of Wisconsin system, with the goal of increasing administrative and fiscal autonomy," Boggs says.

Boggs' job has two "seasons" — budget development and budget implementation. Budget development occurs every other year and starts in the summer of each even-numbered year when the State Budget Office issues technical budget instructions to state agencies that set the governor's fiscal and policy goals for the budget. Analysts review agency budget requests and make policy recommendations to the budget director, the governor's policy staff and the governor on the requested items and on the governor's proposals. Budget development season continues until February or March when the governor delivers the budget address, which outlines the governor's budget initiatives for the coming biennium and when the executive budget bill is introduced by the Joint Committee on Finance into the Assembly or the Senate.

In June, the State Budget Office analyzes the amended budget bill and advises the governor on potential vetoes. "Budget development season ends when the final budget bill that includes Assembly, Senate amendments and the governor's vetoes is enrolled and the fiscal changes are loaded into the budget accounting system," Boggs says. "After the budget is signed and enrolled, the State Budget Office monitors agency transactions and ensures that the budget is implemented as the governor and Legislature intended."

Boggs will start her second budget this fall, and on a typical day she will analyze agency budget submissions and help agencies shape their requests. She also will work with the governor's office on its priorities. "I will weigh the pros and cons of different policy proposals," Boggs says, "and develop different scenarios that could occur under the various proposals. I create a lot of presentation slides and spread sheets that I use to present my analysis to the governor and his staff."

Boggs finds her La Follette training useful. "La Follette prepared me to produce in-depth reports and analyses," Boggs says, "and now I find myself reading and analyzing reports like those to pull out key points and findings that staff in the executive office need to know about."

The public affairs workshop transformed her writing. "The writing I did in the capstone workshop was very different from what I produced in other graduate courses," Boggs says. "The workshop required us to write very clearly and concisely. Gaining that skill has been directly relevant to my work."

The public budgeting and management courses were especially useful, Boggs says. "The work I do at the budget office directly relates to the public budgeting course I took from Don Moynihan. The practical, technical skills I learned were excellent."

Prior to joining the State Budget Office, Boggs worked as a policy fellow with the Center for State Innovation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization housed at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. "We coordinated strategic policy discussions between state executives, their senior staff and national experts around pressing policy issues," Boggs says. "The work involved problem solving for state executives, policy-related research and analysis, and facilitated public policy events for state executive staff, federal agencies, and policy experts." Boggs also contributed written content for newsletters, policy briefs, grant applications and reports.

At the center, the La Follette School's management courses helped her understand the different organizational structures within state government. "I had the opportunity to observe how state executives and state agencies administer policy and programs, particularly in response to changes in state or federal law and budget constraints." Boggs says. "The management courses gave me tools to better analyze and understand large organizations and decision-making processes."

Boggs earned her bachelor's degree in political science from Ohio University in 2003 then spent a summer working for one of Ohio's representatives in the U.S. House. She served as a teaching assistant for the French Ministry of Youth, Education and Research in Guingamp, France, where she developed an interest in education policy.

She came to Madison, assisted with professional development conferences at the Wisconsin Education Association Council, then applied to La Follette. "I have always been drawn toward working for society, for the greater good," she says. "Both of my parents worked in public service. I'm driven by solving the problems facing our society; that's why it is important to me to do public service work."

While at La Follette, Boggs had two internships. At the Wisconsin Education Association Council, she studied performance pay and incentive structures for K-12 teachers. Her second internship was in the office of the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development evaluating service delivery models and best practices in order to increase access to and reduce the cost of state job centers. "That internship was amazing, especially because the senior staff, including the secretary, were so supportive," Boggs says. "The contacts I made there and the references I was able to list were invaluable."

Creating the context for building her professional network is one of the best parts of Boggs' La Follette experience. "I made all sorts of connections with students and alumni," Boggs says. "I also gained practical skills from the rigorous coursework, my internships and my final workshop project. I really appreciate the broad approach to analysis and management and the opportunity I had to specialize in public education. The experience prepared me well."

Last modified on Wednesday, November 19, 2014