In this update:

  • Election Quick Hits
  • Election Roundup
  • Administration Updates
  • Legislative Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

Election Quick Hits

Statewide nonpartisan elections were held Tuesday April 4th, 2023.

Below are the winners of the featured races with 99% precincts reporting:

  • State Supreme Court Race:
    • Janet Protasiewicz: 55.5%
    • Daniel Kelly: 44.5%
  • 8th Senate District Race:
    • Dan Knodl: 50.9%
    • Jodi Habush Sinykin: 49.1%
  • Referendum Questions:
    • Conditions of release before conviction (Binding Referendum):
      • Yes: 66.6%
      • No: 33.4%
    • Cash bail before conviction (Binding Referendum):
      • Yes: 67.5%
      • No: 33.5%
    • Welfare benefits work requirement (Advisory Measure):
      • Yes: 79.3%
      • No: 20.7%
  • City of Green Bay Mayoral Race:
    • Eric Genrich (Inc.): 53%
    • Chad Weininger: 47%
  • City of Racine Mayoral Race:
    • Cory Mason (Inc.): 57.41%
    • Henry Perez: 42.59%

Election Roundup

Protasiewicz elected to Supreme Court

With 99% of precincts reporting, the race for Supreme Court has been decided with liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz becoming Wisconsin’s next Supreme Court Justice.

    • Janet Protasiewicz: 55.5%
    • Daniel Kelly: 44.5%

Key Insights

Judge Protasiewicz’s election tips the balance of the court to a 4-3 Liberal majority for at least the next two years. The next Supreme Court Justice up for re-election is Ann Walsh Bradley, whose terms expires in 2025. Justice Bradley has served on the court since 1995 and confirmed this week that she would be seeking another 10-year term in 2025. Other items of note concerning the election include:

    • 39% of eligible Wisconsin voters (~1.9 million) participated in the election. The only Supreme Court race with higher turnout was in 2016 when it shared the ballot with Dem and GOP presidential primaries. That year, about 47.4% of eligible voters (~2.7 million) cast a ballot;
    • More than $46 million was spent on the race, triple the previous national record of $15 million for a state Supreme Court campaign.

Knodl elected to state Senate

With 99% of precincts reporting, current state Rep. Dan Knodl has won the 8th Senate District Special Election, garnering 50.9% of the vote against Democratic challenger Jodi Habush Sinykin.

    • Dan Knodl: 50.9%
    • Jodi Habush Sinykin: 49.1%

Key Insights

Dan Knodl’s election gives the GOP a supermajority in the Senate, meaning Republicans can remove from office a state official who has been impeached by the Assembly. However, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu recently said the Senate would not use its impeachment powers as a political weapon. “To impeach someone they would need to do something very serious, so no we are not looking to start the impeachment process as a regular occurring event in Wisconsin,” Sen. LeMahieu said. Other items of note concerning the election include:

    • Sen.-elect Knodl captured 50.9% of the vote, less than U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (54.2%) and GOP gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels (51.5%) received in November 2022;
    • More than $1.8 million was spent on the race, with Ms. Habush Sinykin spending over $1 million and Sen.-elect Knodl spending $323,538. Independent groups spent $124,521 backing her and $377,960 supporting him.
    • For more information on the removal of elected officials, please read this 2014 memo from the Wisconsin Legislative Council: click here

Administration Updates

LFB releases analysis of proposed tax modifications

On Monday, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their analysis of the tax modifications proposed in Governor Evers’ budget. The analysis shared the following:

    • The package includes $665.1 million in reductions to the individual income tax in tax year 2023 and $358.2 million in increases.
    • 66.7 percent of the expected 2.2 million filers in tax year 2023 would see a decrease, while 37,671 would see a hike.
    • One-fourth of those who would see a decrease have adjusted gross incomes of $30,000 to $50,000, with the average reduction being $210.
    • 7,458 filers making more than $1 million who would see a tax hike under Evers’ plan would pay an average of $54,070 more in tax year 2023.
    • About 174 filers with incomes of $1 million or more would see a tax decrease with an average reduction of $8,690.

Read the full LFB memo: click here

Underly shares education recommendations

State Superintendent Jill Underly recently spoke with reporters after the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) was not asked to testify in front of the Joint Finance Committee. She shared that she recommends focusing on funding public schools, rather than expanding school choice voucher systems. “We can’t afford two systems, you know, with the school funding where the Legislature can barely fund the one that we have for public school kids and then add on additional expenses,” Superintendent Underly said. Governor Evers’ budget proposal for DPI caps participation in school choice programs at the 23-24 school year levels. He has requested a more than $2.8 billion boost for the agency that includes a proposal to raise per-pupil spending caps by $1,000 per student over the biennium. His proposal would increase the amount of per-pupil aid from $742 to $766 in 2023-24 and $811 per pupil in 2023-25.

Dr. Underly said she was “surprised and also hurt” that DPI was not asked to testify in front of the committee. In an email to WisPolitics, JFC Co-chair Representative Born said, “Students in our state are being failed by the Evers Administration, as demonstrated by slipping test scores. The Joint Committee on Finance does not need to bring in Dr. Underly to hear more empty promises about how DPI wants to better serve our kids.”

Read Dr. Underly’s prepared remarks concerning DPI budget: click here

Evers signs reckless driving bill into law

This week, Governor Evers signed the first bill into law of his second term. The bill allows police to impound a vehicle used in reckless driving incidents if the owner is cited for reckless driving and has unpaid fines from prior reckless driving convictions. The bill aims to reduce reckless driving incidents which have great increased, especially in Milwaukee. According to a TMJ4 report, in 2022 Milwaukee Police issued 496 reckless driving citations, up from 374 in 2021.

On the signing of the bill, Governor Evers stated, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in our communities and on our roads and streets, whether they’re taking their kids to school or driving home from work, but reckless driving and other dangerous behaviors are putting folks at risk across our state.” The bill’s author, Representative Bob Donovan, released a statement saying “Exactly three months ago, I started my time representing the great people of the 84th Assembly District. Today, a strong message is being sent to those that blatantly disobey our traffic laws – threatening the public. The law must be followed or you will lose your vehicle.”

Legislative Updates

JFC Budget Listening Session

On Wednesday the Joint Finance Committee held their first listening session in Waukesha. This is the first of 4 sessions they will be hosting across the state to hear from constituents regarding the budget. Wednesday’s hearing was primarily focused on education and shared revenue, as that is what a majority of attendees spoke on. In regard to education, dozens of local educators and groups testified in favor of Governor Evers’ proposals for public schools which others argued for increasing the school choice voucher program. The Southeast Wisconsin Schools Alliance wants the committee to increase spending by $1,510 per pupil in the next two years, while increasing the special education funding reimbursement from 60 percent in Gov. Evers’ proposal to 90 percent. Mike Spragg, president of the Franklin Board of Education, said many districts across the state have been forced to use pandemic relief to fill budget gaps because of the lack of state funding. “The decision not to properly fund schools will ultimately impact the educational quality of our state’s children,” Mr. Spragg stated.

The other main topic of the hearing was shared revenue, with a majority of speakers in favor of increasing shared revenue for local municipalities. Shared revenue is the largest state aid program for local municipalities and many face impending budget and service cuts due to revenue caps and decreasing state aid. For example, the Fitchburg fire chief, Joe Pulvermacher, shared that his city needs increased shared revenue to ensure safety. He stated, “Those reductions have impacted readiness and response. If you live in the rural areas, sometimes you’re lucky to have a response. It’s that critical at this point.” Milwaukee Common Council President Jose Perez also spoke in favor of updating the shared revenue program.

The remaining public hearings hosted by JFC will be:

    • 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

To access the online portal: click here

Fundraising Opportunities

A list of all upcoming fundraiser opportunities can be found by clicking the button below. For any questions or more information, please do not hesitate to contact your Michael Best Strategies contact.

Wisconsin Campaign Fundraisers

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