In this update:
- Administration Updates
- Legislative Updates
- Election Updates
- Fundraising Opportunities
Evers talks budget at WisPolitics
Governor Tony Evers attended a WisPolitics luncheon this week where he made a number of comments regarding the 2023-2025 Budget.
- Asked GOP legislators to “tell me what the damn plan is” with the budget instead of simply rejecting his proposals.
- On whether he thought GOP legislators were more willing to compromise with him, Gov. Evers said “I think the tenor of the conversation is a little better than it has been. I think Republicans were really hoping that I would be defeated, and now they realize they’re going to be stuck with me for the next four years.”
- Cited proposed increases for shared revenue and mental health as areas of bipartisan agreement between his administration and the Legislature.
- Said he would veto the budget if a flat tax were included or it did not have pay hikes for Department of Corrections employees, public defenders and prosecutors.
- Said the state’s legislative maps are gerrymandered and that Democratic-backed maps would not necessarily result in a Democratic majority. “But at the end of the day, what I believe is that if the makeup of the Legislature is relatively close, it forces people to the middle; it forces people to compromise,” Gov. Evers said. “And that’s a good thing.”
- Will not endorse a candidate in the state Supreme Court (SCOWIS) race.
- Said abortion is critical issue in SCOWIS race. “That’s very unpopular,” Gov. Evers said referring to the state’s 1849 abortion ban. “And we need to get that straightened out. And the only way it’s going to get straightened out is through the court.”
Responding to Gov. Evers’ comments at the luncheon, JFC Co-Chairs Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) told WisPoltics the Legislature will likely pair down most of the governor’s budget requests and restart the process with base funding. The co-chairs anticipate sending a budget to Gov. Evers by the summer. “The Legislature will send the Governor a budget that is good for all of Wisconsin in June, just like we have the last two cycles,” they wrote in an email. “We will build a budget that funds our priorities, cuts taxes and prepares for the future after we hold public hearings, agency briefings and work together to pave the right path forward.”
JFC to host public hearings on state budget
The Joint Finance Committee recently announced that they will be hosting four hearings around the state regarding the state budget that will allow public testimony. The hearings will occur April 5th in Waukesha, April 11th in Eau Claire, April 12th in the Wisconsin Dells, and April 26th in Minocqua. The public hearings will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Co-chairs Representative Mark Born and Senator Howard Marklein also announced an online portal and dedicated email address for public comments. The feedback will be distributed to all committee members.
To access the online portal: click here
The public hearings hosted by JFC will be:
- 10 am – 5 pm: Wednesday, April 5 – Waukesha
- Waukesha County Expo Center, Main Arena
- 1000 Northview Rd, Waukesha
- 10 am – 5 pm: Tuesday, April 11 – Eau Claire
- UW-Eau Claire, Davies Student Center
- Ojibwe Grand Ballroom (Third Floor)
- 77 Roosevelt Ave., Eau Claire
- 10 am – 5 pm: Wednesday, April 12 – Wisconsin Dells
- Wilderness Resort, Glacier Canyon Conference Center
- Sandstone Meeting Room
- 45 Hillman Road, Wisconsin Dells
- 10 am – 5 pm: Wednesday, April 26 – Minocqua
- Lakeland Union High School
- 9573 State Highway 70, Minocqua
GOP to craft its own proposal for Brewers
This week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that Governor Evers’ budget proposal to provide $290 million to the board that oversees the Milwaukee Brewers stadium is likely “dead” and Republican lawmakers will look to craft a different plan. Specifically, Speaker Vos said he would like to see a plan more similar to what the state did when the Milwaukee Bucks needed public tax dollars for a new stadium. The Speaker said, “I think the deal that he cut is not a very good one for the taxpayers, but again I want to be able to look at all the details and understand the numbers more than what he did was, which I think is just a lazy way of saying here’s a one-time revenue source giving a huge gift as opposed to explaining the economic reasons to do it.”
A spokesperson for Governor Evers called the Speaker’s claims “partisan theatrics” and tweeted, “We remain hopeful Speaker Vos’ partisan theatrics will not get in the way of our deal to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee for another two decades.” She followed up by tweeting, “It’s almost as though Republicans simply do not like anything Tony Evers proposes even though they have no actual plan to accomplish any singular thing, much less a comprehensive plan to meaningfully address the pressing challenges facing our state!”
In an announcement this week, a group of business, labor and GOP leaders has formed a coalition to find a “bipartisan solution” that would keep the Brewers in Milwaukee. Named the “Home Crew Coalition“, it will be chaired by Omar Shaikh, a Milwaukee area restaurateur and developer. The group hasn’t explicitly backed the Governor’s proposal and said it plans to raise awareness about the benefits of the ballpark, but didn’t specify how. Notable GOP members of the coalition include: former state GOP Chair Mike Grebe; former GOP state Sen. Dan Kapanke, who owns the La Crosse Loggers; and Jim Villa, of NAIOP Wisconsin, and a former adviser to Scott Walker.
JCRAR suspends latest DHS immunization rule
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR) voted this week 6-4 along party lines to suspend updated Department of Health Services (DHS) vaccine requirements. The rule would have required students in Wisconsin to get a meningitis vaccine in seventh grade and a booster in 12th grade. The rule would have also required a past chickenpox infection to be documented by a qualified medical professional in order to receive a vaccine waiver. However, the rule still would have allowed parents to claim vaccine exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons.
JCRAR Co-chair Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said the committee’s decision to suspend the rule was consistent with its oversight responsibilities. “JCRAR, once again, met its oversight duty relating to the improper actions taken by DHS to enact binding administrative code provisions that were arbitrary and capricious, as well as, placing undue hardships on the families of this state,” Sen. Nass said.
Democrats did not support the decision to suspend the rule. Rep. Samba Baldeh (D-Madison), a member of JCRAR, said the vote undermined public health and that Republicans had been unable to provide a “compelling reason” as to why he should trust them over DHS professionals. “We must continue to stand strong against misinformation, and do everything we can to improve public health in Wisconsin and across the world,” Rep. Baldeh said.
WPF issues report on Evers’ budget, GOP flat tax proposals
Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) released a new report this week that cast doubt on the economic sustainability of Governor Tony Evers’ 2023-25 Executive Budget, as well as a GOP flat tax proposal that has received significant backing from Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg). The report from WPF found Gov. Evers’ proposed 2023-25 Executive Budget would exceed state revenues by nearly $5.3 billion in 2024 and $1.3 billion in 2025, which would be “the largest imbalance of any budget on record.” The report noted that while much of the state’s $7 billion surplus is one-time in nature, most of the governor’s spending proposals would be ongoing, resulting in the deficit.
The report also found a GOP proposal for a 3.25% flat income tax phased in over four years would decrease revenues by nearly $5 billion during the 2023-25 budget and $9.4 billion in the 2025-2027 budget. Last week, JFC Co-Chair Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) said it was unlikely that a flat tax would be included in the Legislature’s budget. Gov. Tony Evers has previously said including a flat tax in the budget would be a “poison pill” that would result in a full veto.
The report recommends that with a national recession still being a possibility, “lawmakers and the governor should consider ways to ensure any new spending and tax cuts are sustainable not simply in the upcoming budget, but in the following two years as well.”
Underly and Dem lawmakers urge GOP to support free K-12 school meals
State Superintendent Jill Underly and various Democrat lawmakers have been urging GOP lawmakers to include Governor Evers’ proposal to provide free school lunch and breakfast to all K-12 students in their version of the budget. Under Governor Evers’ budget, a total of $129.2 million would be allocated to cover the difference between what the federal government now reimburses for free or reduced-price lunches and the cost to provide them to all students for free. The budget would bar schools from charging students for a meal and apply to all public districts, independent charter schools, tribal schools, private schools and residential schools. On the proposal, Joint Finance Co-Chair Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) said, “We are at the beginning of our process and will be listening to our constituents throughout the next several months.”
Kelly and Protasiewicz set to debate once
Supreme Court candidates Dan Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz have both committed to participating in a debate hosted by the State Bar of Wisconsin, WISC-TV and WisPolitics on March 21. This will be their first and only debate of the race. Justice Kelly has agreed to a dozen other debates, however, Judge Protasiewicz has declined all other invitations. Judge Protasiewicz also announced that she committed to a second forum that is being hosted by All Voting is Local, Campus Vote Project, and VoteRiders. Justice Kelly’s campaign said it didn’t receive an invitation to that event.
Protasiewicz releases four new ads
Liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz recently released four new ads as a part of her almost $8 million statewide buy. The first is titled “Values” and the narrator says Judge Protasiewicz is “a prosecutor fighting for justice for victims of crime” over a 25-year period and a judge who “upholds the constitution and she fiercely guards our rights.” The second is titled “Dan Kelly: ‘Cash’” and focuses on donations conservative Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly received during his 2020 run for the court. The third is titled “Dan Kelly: Six” and attempts to link Justice Kelly to the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th, as well as to former Justice Michael Gabelman. The fourth ad is titled: “Janet for Justice: ‘Choices’” and calls Justice Kelly and Judge Protasiewicz candidates with two very different beliefs particularly on the state’s abortion ban.
Since the February primary, Judge Protasiewicz and her backers have spent more than $10.1 million on paid media while groups supporting Justice Kelly have spent nearly $5.5 million.
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DPW & RPW launch competing websites on SCOWIS candidates
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) launched a new website this week which calls conservative state Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly “too extreme for Wisconsin.” The website focuses on former Justice Kelly’s pro-life stances on abortion and the support he has garnered from pro life groups. Similarly, after the primary the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) launched a website critical of liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz, labeling her “No Jail Janet.” The state GOP’s website focuses on Judge Protesiewicz’s policies on bail as a Milwaukee County DA and her rulings during her time as a judge.
See the DPW Website: Dan Kelly: TOO EXTREME For Wisconsin (extremistdankelly.com)
See the RPW Website: No Jail Janet Is Soft On Crime And Wrong For Wisconsin
Second group supporting Kelly with paid media
American Principles Project PAC, based out of Arlington, Virginia, recently announced they will be spending $245,430 in online ads supporting conservative Supreme Court candidate Dan Kelly. The group spent $66,652 backing former Justice Kelly in the primary. This additional funding now brings Justice Kelly’s spending on independent expenditures to $1.2 million. In comparison, groups supporting liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz have reported spending $2.4 million on independent expenditures.
ACLU releases radio ads
This week the ACLU’s Wisconsin branch released two ads as a part of their $896,000 buy. The ads are focused on abortion and both begin with the narrator stating, “The ACLU does not endorse or oppose candidates, but is issuing this voter information guide for the April 4th state Supreme Court election, so voters can make an informed decision.” The ads start by suggesting the Wisconsin Supreme Court will likely rule on the state’s 1849 abortion ban. On former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly, the narrator says, “Candidate Dan Kelly made his position clear when he repeatedly compared abortion to taking a life. He even worked for a group trying to ban all abortions here in Wisconsin.” The narrator then quotes Judge Protasiewicz saying, “I value a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive health care decisions.” The ad ends with, “on abortion rights, a clear difference.”
Listen to the ads: click here
WMC Issues Mobilization Council releases new ad on Protasiewicz
The Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Issues Mobilization Council released a new ad this week directed at liberal Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz and the sentences she has handed down in sex offense cases. The WMC has reserved $3.2 million as a part of the buy ahead of the April election according to AdImpact. In the ad, the narrator mentions three cases involving sexual assault in which the perpetrator received no prison time, probation, and 2.5 years in prison.
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