In this update:
- Evers Administration Updates
- Pre-Session Updates
- Fundraising Opportunities
Evers Administration Updates
State finishes FY 2021-22 with record high GAAP balance
Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) announced via press release the state’s General Fund ended the 2021-22 fiscal year with $4.6 billion using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). According to the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report issued by the Department of Administration, the state’s GAAP balance increased nearly 300% between the 2020-21 fiscal year and the current fiscal year.
“When I took office our GAAP balance was in a deficit, but we’ve worked hard since to put our state in a stronger fiscal position moving forward, and for the past two years this report has demonstrated that we are doing just that,” said Gov. Evers. “Wisconsin is in the best fiscal position we’ve ever seen, and this year’s remarkable increase is another positive indicator that we are headed in the right direction—toward a stronger, more secure economic future that ensures we can keep working to build a Wisconsin that works for everyone.”
Joint Finance Co-chair Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) also put out a press release on the GAAP balance. “The recent release of the state’s audited financial statements continues the trend of positive reports we have received for the past 12 years. When I was elected to the legislature, we had a $3.0 billion deficit. We have made remarkable, consistent progress since Republicans have had control of the state’s checkbook.”
Evers “leery” about GOP plans for shared revenue, flat tax
Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) told WisPolitics.com this week that he is “leery” about calls by Republicans in the state legislature to dedicate a portion of the state’s sales tax revenues to local governments. The Governor stated that he would instead prefer an approach which provides municipalities a more stable increase each year. He also stated that he opposes calls by GOP members of the state legislature to lower the top income tax rate of 7.65%, however did not respond when asked if he would veto a budget that included a GOP flat tax plan. In his year-end phone interview Gov. Evers stated that, “The bottom line is I want tax cuts to be targeting the middle class, and that is my position. So something that makes the top end of earners winners and a lot of people losers, that doesn’t work for me.”
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) has stated that his caucus is working on plans to move forward a flat tax of 3.54%. Currently the state has four tax brackets that range from 3.54% to 7.65%. However, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has said the $3.4 billion in tax cuts that were included in the 2021-23 budget are the bare minimum he would accept in regard to tax reform. With regard to shared revenue, earlier this month Speaker Vos suggested using 1% of the state sales tax to replace shared revenue. Meanwhile, the Governor announced plans earlier this year to increase shared revenue by $91.4 million— a boost of 4% in each year of the biennium. He additionally pledged another $10 million in new state aid to address EMS, police, and fire costs.
Evers meets with GOP Legislative Leaders
Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) shared this week that he has recently met with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and has plans to meet with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) later this week. The Governor declined to share details on the meeting with Sen. LeMahieu, but stated that it went “fine.” He also shared that he is open to meeting with the two GOP leaders regularly going forward, and noted that his staff meets with them as well. With regards to ongoing meetings being scheduled, Governor Evers stated that he wants “to get through the first two just to kind of take the temperature.”
Evers to again propose marijuana legalization in state budget
In an interview on Tuesday, Governor Evers shared that he plans to again propose marijuana legalization in the state budget. The Governor stated that there is “[n]o question about that…There’s an increasing number of people in the Legislature that might be willing to go towards medicinal marijuana…If the Legislature can rally around medicinal marijuana, I certainly would sign that bill…I just don’t know if the Republicans are there yet… All I know is that there is talk on the Republican side, from what I’ve heard, around medicinal.”
Last session, Senator Mary Felzkowski (R-Tomahawk), a cancer survivor, held a hearing on her medical marijuana bill, which she described as a significant step to win over reluctant Republican lawmakers. A 2019 Marquette University law School Poll found that 83% of voters favored legalizing medicinal use of marijuana. Recently, in the February Marquette University Law School Poll, 61% of Wisconsin voters favored legalizing recreational marijuana.
Agard announces committee assignments
Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard (D- Madison) announced her committee assignments today for the caucus’ 11 members across 28 different committees. Assistant Minority Leader Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) has the most appointments with eight different committees assignments. State Senators Brad Pfaff (D-Onalaska), Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), and Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) were all assigned to six committees each.
The full list of committee assignments for Senate Democrats can be found here.
Neubauer announces goals for next session
Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) announced her three goals for the upcoming session during a year-end interview with WisPolitics.com. These goals are promoting a visionary and inclusive policy agenda, continuing to find opportunities to work across the aisle, and upholding Governor Evers’ vetoes.
Legislative Democrats won 35 seats in the November election, keeping their Republican colleagues just short of a veto-proof majority. However, if two or more Democrats are absent from the Assembly and GOP members are at full strength, it would open the door to GOP lawmakers bringing a veto override to the floor and passing it without needing Democratic support. In response to this, Minority Leader Neubauer stated that “we just can’t have anybody missing. Our members understand that and understand that it is a core part of their role to be prepared at all times, to come to Madison, to be in Madison to uphold those vetoes.”
RNC announces 2024 national convention dates
The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced the 2024 Republican National Convention in Milwaukee will be held from July 15-18, 2024, the earliest the party has met to select its presidential nominee since 1980. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Milwaukee 2024 Host Committee Chair Reince Priebus, and Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson issued the following statements.
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel:
“We are excited to announce July 15-18, 2024 as the week Republicans will select our nominee to be the next president of the United States. We look forward to our continued work with the beautiful city of Milwaukee to make this convention week a success. Republicans will stand united in Milwaukee in 2024 to share our message of freedom and opportunity with the world.
Milwaukee 2024 Host Committee Chair Reince Priebus:
“I could not be more proud of the leadership of those who are making the 2024 RNC Convention in Milwaukee possible. The location is set, the dates are booked, and now the work of pulling off the biggest event in politics is underway. With partners like the RNC and the city of Milwaukee, we are confident the RNC Convention will be the gold standard for decades to come.”
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson:
“We are thrilled to welcome the 2024 Republican National Convention to Milwaukee. Our city is ready to show the world we are open for business, conventions, and tourism. The presidential nomination convention is a historical opportunity to present what a phenomenal place Milwaukee truly is.”