In this update:

  • MBS News
  • 2023-2025 Budget Updates
  • Governor’s Race
  • Legislative Races
  • Post-Session Updates
  • U.S. Senate Race
  • Congressional Races

MBS News

Former State Rep. Mike Kuglitsch joins Michael Best Strategies

Former State Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) has joined Michael Best Strategies as a principal in our Madison office. Kuglitsch announced his retirement from the Assembly in February 2022 after serving for nearly twelve years. He was the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Energy & Utilities and also served as the National Chair of Energy, Environment & Agriculture for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

“Mike Kuglitsch is an accomplished lawmaker with strong bipartisan relationships across government, and we’re thrilled to welcome him to the Michael Best family,” said Robert Marchant, president of Michael Best Strategies. “Michael Best Strategies is Wisconsin’s preeminent firm for businesses with government relations, business consulting and strategic communications needs, and Mike’s experience will help accelerate our clients’ success.”

“As a businessman turned public servant with deep experience at the intersection of business and politics, I understand how government can either foster or prohibit economic growth,” said Mike Kuglitsch. “Michael Best Strategies is a growing bipartisan firm, and I’m excited to join the team and advance productive solutions for clients and taxpayers.”

2023-2025 Budget Updates

Evers kickstarts the 2023-2025 budget process

On June 7th Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers officially began the 2023-2025 budget process by sending a letter to department secretaries and agency heads outlining the parameters for their 2023-2025 budget request submissions.

Those requests are statutorily required to be submitted to the State Budget Office and Legislative Fiscal Bureau by September 15th in an even-numbered year. In addition to the fiscal priorities the Governor outlines, the requests the agencies submit must include alternative budget proposals that assume no increase in state funding and a five percent decrease in state funding per fiscal year in the succeeding biennium.

Once all of the budget requests are submitted, the Secretary of the Department of Administration has until November 20th to provide the Governor, or the Governor-elect, and each member of the next Legislature with a document compiling the total amount of each state agency’s biennial budget request, as well as summary information on actual and estimated revenues for the current and forthcoming biennium.

In his letter to the agency heads, Governor Evers highlighted the positive fiscal situation the state of Wisconsin is in, including:

  • a GAAP surplus, including a $1.18 billion surplus at the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year
  • a record high balance of roughly $1.73 billion in the state’s budget stabilization “rainy day” fund
  • a $3.8 billion surplus at the end of the current 2021-23 biennium
  • upgrades from two rating agencies, with one rating upgraded to a AAA level, which is Wisconsin’s first AAA rating since 1982.

Governor Evers noted in his letter that he is “disappointed” the Legislature didn’t act on his request earlier this year to spend $1.7 billion of the surplus to “provide relief to Wisconsinites” but continued having those funds “puts the state in a strong position to meet the needs of our state in the next biennial budget.”

In addition to providing the fiscal parameters that the budget requests should stay within, Governor Evers provided some insight into some of the priorities his proposed budget would include if re-elected this fall. Those priorities include;

  • increased funding for education
  • expanding Medicaid
  • reducing the cost of prescription drugs
  • increased funding for local governments
  • increased funding for roads
  • increased resources and support for “family caregivers, first-time homebuyers, veterans and those incurring child and dependent care expenses.”

Marklein keeping an eye on fiscal outlook

Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) wrote in a column that he attended a recent National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Regional Fiscal Leaders meeting in Washington, DC and is “further resolved that holding onto our surplus is the correct course of action.”

In his column, Marklein pointed to a presentation given by Joyce Chang, chair of Global Research at J.P. Morgan, where she discussed the potential impacts of inflation, the possibility for a recession, predictions for even higher gas prices and the impact they will have on state budgets. Marklein noted in his column that “Holding this cash to manage the future in an inflationary environment is the responsible and reasonable thing to do. There are compensation plans, like contracts for teachers, which are directly tied to the rate of inflation. In order to manage increasing expenses and fulfill contracts and obligations, we must have the cash.”

(Read Sen. Marklein’s column here)

Governor’s Race

Evers ad promotes expansion of skilled trades training

Governor Tony Evers launched a new television advertisement that touts his administration’s efforts to expand skills training in Wisconsin. It is the eighth advertisement of his campaign’s $3.5 million buy. The advertisement will run on both broadcast and cable television.

In the ad, Evers says that college is “not the best path for everyone” and that skilled trades careers are both good-pay and “badly needed.” He claims to have expanded access to skills training during his tenure as governor. He specifically highlights a bipartisan bill that he signed that connects students and their parents with information on apprenticeships.

Walker touts Kleefisch’s record as a “fighter”

Former Governor Scott Walker released a new column in which he praises his former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and highlights his endorsement of her gubernatorial campaign.

The column was written for The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper based out of Washington, D.C. In it, he claims that his administration’s reforms “saved the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin more than $15 billion.” Furthermore, he wrote that Kleefisch will “lead the fight to take back our schools,” as well as defend conservative stances on law enforcement, the Second Amendment, abortion, election security, and the state budget.

In a press release, Kleefisch’s campaign said that Walker led “the most conservative government Wisconsin has ever seen,” with Kleefisch hoping to “usher in Wisconsin’s next era of conservative change.”

Michels releases TV ad, plays up Trump endorsement

Businessman Tim Michels released a new television advertisement in his campaign in the Republican gubernatorial primary, highlighting his endorsement by former President Donald Trump.

The ad, which will be broadcast across the state on both broadcast and cable television, frames Michels as an outsider who “helped build a great Wisconsin company and created thousands of jobs.” The narrator says that Trump called Michels an “American first conservative” who is pro-Second Amendment and pro-law enforcement. Other details about the ad, including how much the campaign is spending on it, were not released to the press or public.

Michels releases “Transparency in Government” plan

Tim Michels released his blueprint to improve transparency in government and increase restrictions on lobbying as part of an effort to “drain the Madison swamp.”

In a press release, Michels said that “Madison insiders have crafted a system that benefits themselves, at the expense of the people” and that “politicians spend more time making promises to special interest groups instead of crafting good public policy solutions.”

  • The press release identifies five key points of the blueprint:
    Ban former legislators and senior administration officials from lobbying for two years after leaving their position.
  • Prohibit fundraising event sponsorship by political action committees (PACs) that are controlled by lobbyists.
  • Extend the ban on lobbyist political contributions to June 1st of every election year.
  • End the contribution loophole for the spouses of lobbyists.
  • Impose greater transparency and reporting requirements for campaigns and lobbyists, including monthly contribution reports for campaigns.

More details and additional points from the blueprint can be found on Michels’ campaign website.

Legislative Races

Jacobson releases first ad, touts conservative credentials and blasts “Madison liberals”

Brent Jacobson (R-Mosinee), Republican candidate for the 29th Senate District, released his campaign’s first ad this week. The ad blasts “Madison liberals” for pushing critical race theory in public schools, undermining election laws, and defunding law enforcement. The ad goes on to say the 29th SD needs “a conservative leader who will fight back” and Jacobson is that conservative leader because he’s a “husband and father,” a “small businessman,” and a “local official,” who “fights back and gets things done.”

Jacobson is running for incumbent Republican Senator Jerry Petrowski’s seat, who is not seeking re-election. Jacobson will compete against Jon Kaiser and Cory Tomczyk for the Republican nomination on August 9th. The winner of the primary will face off against Democrat Bob Look during the November 8th general election.

Post-Session Updates

Evers’ PFAS standards take effect

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules will allow regulations developed by Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to control pollution from perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). However, an aide to State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater), who co-chairs the committee, warned that the committee could suspend the standards if the DNR does not lawfully implement them.

The DNR has been working on restrictions on PFAS in state waters since September 2019. The department’s board adopted a 70 parts per trillion (ppt) standard for drinking water and an 8 ppt standard for most surface waters that can support fish, but ultimately scrapped a 2 ppt standard for groundwater. These standards are part of a set of statutes that are not being disputed by the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) in a Waukesha County Circuit Court case concerning PFAS pollution regulations within the context of the state’s spills law.

U.S. Senate Race

One Nation releases third TV ad supporting Johnson

One Nation, a right-wing advocacy group, announced the release of its third television advertisement in support of incumbent U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI). The ad criticizes the Biden administration over gas prices, claiming that it reduced American energy production. The narrator then says that Johnson is “fighting to restore American energy independence” by finishing the Keystone Pipeline, expanding domestic oil production, and promoting natural gas.

The group did not release any details about where in Wisconsin they will run the ad. It had previously announced its intention to spend $9 million in Wisconsin as part of an issue advocacy campaign.

Barnes releases plan to provide middle class tax cuts

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes released a new plan this week to cut taxes for the middle class and lower costs for working families. In a press release, Barnes said he would expand the child tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and other tax cuts “so the middle class families can keep more of what they earn.” To pay for the plan, Barnes said he’ll ensure “the wealthiest among us pay their fair share.” The plan also includes measures to boost Wisconsin manufacturing, strengthen unions, and invest in struggling communities by creating good-paying jobs and attracting and retaining skilled workers.

Claiming he’s “the only candidate who can authentically connect with the challenges working families are facing,” Barnes said “The truth is, we have a lot of out-of-touch millionaires in Washington who don’t feel the same urgency of the challenges of the people they’re elected to represent.” Key tenants of the plan include:

  • Allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • Increasing access to affordable, high-quality child care;
  • Ending subsidies for oil and gas companies;
  • Supporting the “Made in America Act” to ensure major federally funded projects benefit American business;
  • Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to inflation; and
  • Supporting the Protecting the Right to Organize Act.

In response to the plan, Tom Nelson, one of Barnes’ opponents for the Democratic nomination, tweeted “Tax credits are as progressive as it gets for a ‘hybrid candidate’… we need bold leaders who will take on tough issues and take real action.”

In addition to Nelson, Barnes will face off against Alex Lasry and Sarah Godlweski on August 9th in the Democratic partisan primary.

Godlewski launches new TV ad, says she’s “leading the fight”

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski released a new ad in her campaign in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate as part of an ongoing multi-million dollar ad buy.

The ad shows Godlewski both campaigning and in interviews, saying that reproductive rights, paid family leave, affordable childcare, and affordable senior care would be higher priorities in the U.S. Senate if more women served in the chamber.

The ad also targets incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), saying that “we do not want politicians like Ron Johnson making health care decisions for women and affecting our freedom.” The narrator says that she is the “best chance to rid the Senate of Ron Johnson.”

Congressional Races

Field set for 3rd CD

Four Democrats and one Republican will appear on the primary ballot for Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District, setting up the most competitive U.S. House in the state this year.

Derrick Van Orden, the Republican nominee in 2020 for the district, is running again now that incumbent Rep. Ron Kind (D) is not seeking re-election. He has secured the endorsements of former President Donald Trump and other key Republicans. He is unopposed in the primary.

There are four Democrats who filed enough signatures to appear on the ballot. They are:

  • State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska),
  • Former CIA agent Deb McGrath,
  • La Crosse Common Council member Mark Neumann, and
  • Eau Claire small business owner Rebecca Cooke.

Pfaff earned the endorsement of Rep. Kind. Pfaff previously served as a staff member for Kind.

The district has been named as a critical race for Republicans to win in order to flip control of the House in November.

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