In this update:
- Upcoming Events
- Legislative Updates
- Election Updates
- A Look at the Week Ahead
- Fundraising Opportunities
JFC holds budget listening session in Eau Claire
On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held its second budget listening session. The most discussed topic was funding for public education, both for local school districts and higher education at the UW-system. Several UW-system campuses spoke on issues impacting higher education workers and facilities across the state. UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt spoke in favor of measures to increase pay system-wide and also asked the committee to support replacing UW-Eau Claire’s outdated Science and Health Services Building. Other UW campuses spoke on measures impacting their institutions included UW-Superior, UW-Stout, and UW-La Crosse. Common themes addressed by the UW-system representatives included increasing investment in campus facilities, students, and faculty to make UW schools more competitive with its counterparts in Minnesota. Heritage Hall at UW-Stout was also a popular topic, with several speakers saying the building was falling into disrepair and in need of renovation.
Public safety was also discussed, with a group of public defenders and assistant district attorneys asking the JFC to increase base pay. The group said the justice system is at a “critical level” and that competitive salaries are needed to fill the available jobs. The group also said that pay inequities lead to constant turnover with individuals gaining experience as a public defender or assistant DA only to leave for higher paying jobs elsewhere.
Watch the full listening session: click here
JFC holds budget listening session in Wisconsin Dells
On Wednesday, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) held its third budget listening session. The most prominent issue discussed was education, both in regards to the UW system and K-12. UW-Whitewater Chancellor, Dr. Corey A. King, presented testimony asking for support for the Winther Hall and Heide Hall renovations. Additionally, a few attendees offered support for UW-Stout’s Heritage Hall renovation, and UW-Madison’s engineering project. A large group of students spoke in support of the UW Tuition Promise, saying the program helps students of color attend college by making it more affordable. In support of K-12 funding, many attendees spoke in support of increased K-12 funding, due to the expiration of COVID funds. On the issue, Rep. Kurtz noted the large number of Choice and Charter representatives coming forward, rather than traditional public schools.
Shared revenue was also a popular topic, with many people who spoke in support of shared revenue for a variety of programs. After the listening session, Senator Ballweg stated, “There are so many particular programs that we’re hearing about, like Task Force One, and getting back to what we can do to inform recruits and retain our folks that are working in public safety, whether it be fire, EMS, and law enforcement.”
Watch the full listening session: click here
Romanski and Thompson unanimously supported in committee
This week, Governor Tony Evers’ nominations for DATCP secretary and WisDOT secretary were unanimously approved at the committee level. On Monday, the Senate Agriculture and Tourism Committee held an executive session to confirm Randy Romanski as the secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Secretary Romanski has served as secretary since September 2021. Prior to this appointment, Secretary Romanski served as DATCP deputy secretary since January 2019 and interim secretary since November 2019.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Transportation and Local Government held an executive session to confirm Craig Thompson as Secretary of the Department of Transportation. Secretary Thompson has served as secretary since 2019, and prior to his appointment was the executive director of the Transportation Development Association (TDA) of Wisconsin.
Both Secretary Romanski and Thompson will have to be approved by the full State Senate during its next floor session. Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu told members earlier this week to expect a Senate floor session on April 18th or April 19th.
Vos discusses budget
On Thursday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos shared comments regarding the Brewers’ stadium and tax cuts. On the Brewers’ stadium, Speaker Vos stated that Governor Evers’ proposal to direct $290 million in one-time state tax dollars to the district board that oversees the stadium is dead, however, he noted that he is working to help his caucus understand the consequences for the state if the Brewers leave Milwaukee. For example, the state would lose $11 million annually in sales tax revenue generated by activity at the stadium as well as $12 million in income taxes from players’ salaries, including those from visiting teams who play in American Family Field. He stated, “Those are some numbers that we’re looking at to be able to make sure people understand if the Brewers leave, it’s not like it’s free. There’s an economic impact to the state of Wisconsin.”
Speaker Vos also spoke on the projected tax cuts in the upcoming budget. This past December, the Speaker stated that he wanted to cut taxes by “significantly” more than $3.4 billion. However, he shared that looking more closely at the surplus showed that likely will not be possible, because a large portion on the projected surplus is through one-time funds. He stated, “The numbers are still real. We still have money in the bank. But we’re not going to use one-time money for a long-term tax cut, at least any sizable amount.”
Baldwin to run for reelection
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has officially announced that she will be running for a third Senate term in 2024. In her statement she said, “I’m committed to making sure that working people, not just the big corporations and ultra-wealthy, have a fighter on their side. With so much at stake, from families struggling with rising costs to a ban on reproductive freedom, Wisconsinites need someone who can fight and win.” According to FEC reports, Senator Baldwin ended 2022 with over $3 million in cash on hand for her campaign.
In response to her announcement, National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesperson Tate Mitchell called Baldwin “a reliable vote for the far left, not a senator Wisconsin can count on.” He further stated, “Tammy Baldwin has voted against tougher penalties for violent criminals, stood with Democrats to destroy American energy independence, and rubber-stamped Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer’s reckless spending at every turn.”
Wikler on “UpFront”
Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairman Ben Wikler was on WISN’s “Upfront” this past weekend where he discussed President Biden’s 2024 Presidential run, the spring election, and potential redistricting. When asked if he feels that President Biden should run for reelection, Chairman Wikler stated, “Absolutely, yes. I think President Biden and Vice President Harris stack up so well against any of the Republican alternatives. I’m very, very excited about the possibility of their reelection campaign, and I hope an announcement comes soon.”
When recapping the April 4th election results, Chairman Wikler stated, “For Democrats, this is a key lesson for us that we can’t fight back with an arm tied behind our back. This map looks like a Tammy Baldwin 2018 map, maybe a Tammy Baldwin 2024 map. The margins in the red areas were smaller, and a whole bunch of once red counties flipped blue, and in the blue areas, she blew the roof off in terms of turnout and margin.” Finally, when asked about possible redistricting which was a large focus of Judge Protasiewicz’s campaign, Chairman Wikler shared that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin will not be bringing a case forward regarding redistricting, though it would be “wonderful” if new maps were drawn. He followed up by stating, “Janet Protasiewicz was very clear. We supported her campaign with tremendous resources. She will recuse herself if we are litigants before the state Supreme Court, and I honor that.”
Walker on “UpFront”
Former Governor Scott Walker was on WISN’s “UpFront” this past weekend where he discussed the spring election, the possibility of Act 10 being brought to SCOWIS, and President Trump. On the April 4th election, Governor Walker stated, “Obviously, this was a contentious battle, but the bottom line, it’s time to move forward. People want to know what’s going to happen next. Certainly, we can learn from that. As a conservative, I’ve learned that early money, particularly from outstate people like George Soros and even low dollar donors, made a huge impact. And as someone at Young America Foundation, I’ve definitely learned that young people are increasingly having an impact, particularly in places like Dane County.”
When asked if he was nervous that some of the laws passed under his tenure as governor would be overturned by the new SCOWIS, Governor Walker stated, “Absolutely. The new justice elect has made it clear she thinks Act 10 is unconstitutional. We’ll see if there’s at least three other justices that might join with her. I look at someone like Ann Walsh Bradley, and even though she’s generally been aligned on the left of center coalition, I still think someone like that is going to be cautious about creating new law, particularly in the case of Act 10.” Governor Walker was then asked, “Is it good for the Republican Party if Trump is the nominee and can he win Wisconsin?“ He responded, Well, I think, yes, he can in both cases. Again, I’m not endorsing, but if he can lay out an agenda that says ‘I’m not going to forget, you, yeah, sometimes I’m a little rough around the edges, but in the end, it’s because I’m fighting for you. That’s the guy that can win – not only the nomination, that can win in Wisconsin and across the country. If he gets into battles with other Republicans, other things, then I think he’s in a bit of a pickle.”
A Look at the Week Ahead
Tuesday, April 18th
- 1pm Assembly Floor Session
- Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu told members to keep April 18 and April 19 open for a possible Senate floor day
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.