In this update:
- Budget Updates
- Administration Updates
- Legislative Updates
- Election Updates
- A Look at the Week Ahead
- Fundraising Opportunities
Lt. Governor Rodriguez reacts to health care in the state budget
Lt. Governor Sara Rodriguez (D), a former ER nurse and health care worker, held a press conference this week in which she praised Governor Evers’ proposed $150 million investment in healthcare. Of that proposed investment, over $100 million would have gone for health care workers in the Workforce Innovation Grant program, and $50 million would have gone for nurse education, the family caregiver program, and other educational programs. The Joint Finance Committee removed these items from consideration in the budget last week. Lt. Governor Rodriguez criticized legislative Republicans for also eliminating the expansion of BadgerCare from the state budget, stating that the program helped her father who is a veteran and dementia patient. Lt. Governor Rodriguez stated that the move by Republicans was “disappointing, particularly when we have a $7 billion surplus.”
Evers appoints three new members to Wisconsin Technical College System Board
Governor Evers has announced he has appointed Alex Lasry, Lindsay Blumer, and Janixa Franco Gonzales to the Wisconsin Technical College System Board. The new members join a slate of Evers appointees, including three that took up their positions on the board in January after three Walker appointees stayed on past their terms expired in May 2021. The Governor also reappointed Quincey Daniels, owner of Dr. Daniels and Education Consulting. He’s also a former senior lecturer at Waukesha County Technical College.
Lasry is a former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and the former senior Vice-President for the Milwaukee Bucks. He will replace former Board President Rodney Pasch, a Walker appointee.
Blumer is currently president and CEO of WRTP | BIG STEP. She previously served as an entrepreneurial pathways project manager at Marquette University, associate dean for Career and Professional Development at Ripon College, and executive director of People Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse. She will be taking the role of attorney Stephen Willet, a Walker appointee.
Lastly, Gonzales is a special education paraprofessional for the Pewaukee School District who is getting her degree in early childhood education from Waukesha County Technical College. She is the student member and will take the place of Megan Bahr, an Evers appointee.
Speaker Vos called the appointment of Lasry “disappointing but no surprise” and compared it to Evers appointing “political ally” Sarah Godlewski, the former state treasurer, to the secretary of state’s post. He stated, “Now Alex Lasry will also hold an unelected, unaccountable position with the Tech Board where he won’t have to answer to the voters when he raises their taxes.”
Shared revenue bill negotiations continue
On Thursday the Assembly Committee on Local Government held an executive session on the GOP shared revenue bill. The Committee approved the bill without amendments along party lines with an 8-4 vote. Rep. Todd Novak (R), who chairs the committee, said that there was no proposed amendments to the bill ahead of yesterday’s hearing because negotiations between both houses are ongoing. He also added that the Assembly plans to vote on the bill Wednesday, and that “everything is on the table” while final negotiations are had and changes are made.
Democratic member of the Committee, Rep. Clinton Anderson, asked other members during the hearing why they were voting on the bill if the changes that will be made have not been seen by the members yet. He stated that Republicans are working to revise many of the provisions, like one which would allow municipalities to count the number of citations issued by police or arrests towards a requirement that maintains the community has a commitment to law enforcement.
Thursday’s movement comes after Governor Evers shared on Wednesday that he hopes to see a new shared revenue bill soon. The Governor said his staff has been meeting with aides to lawmakers on the proposal and that there were about three dozen provisions in the bill that he had concerns about, but declined to say which ones would have to be removed to avoid a veto. “I have to see them all at one time,” Governor Evers said. “I can’t just say, ‘Well, if this happens suddenly, the light turns on.’ It doesn’t work that way with me.”
The bill will also have paper ballot votes taken beginning today in the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems and the Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemption, which both handle portions of the bill. Ballots for both committees are due Monday morning.
Knodl receives committee assignments
Senate Majority leader Devin LeMahieu has appointed Senator Knodl to head the new Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection. He was also appointed as a member on the Committee on Economic Development and Technical Colleges; Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety; and Committee on Licensing, Constitution and Federalism.
A spokesperson for Majority Leader LeMahieu said it is unclear if any GOP members will be removed from the committees Senator Knodl was added to. In creating the new committee, Majority Leader LeMahieu pulled oversight of the Committee on Elections and Consumer Protection from Senator Stroebel, who now chairs the renamed Government Operations Committee. Senator Agard (D) criticized Senator Knodl’s appointment to the new committee due to his involvement in a letter sent more than two years ago asking then-Vice President Pence to delay certifying the 2020 presidential election to allow time to investigate claims of fraud. She claims Senator Knodl “actively worked to thwart the peaceful transition of power,” and stated, “He does not respect the nation’s longstanding democratic processes and is unfit to chair a committee exercising some oversight of Wisconsin’s elections.” Sen. Knodl pushed back against Sen. Agard’s claims stating, “It is of utmost importance that every citizen in Wisconsin has confidence in their vote being legally cast and counted correctly. Election integrity is not a partisan issue and we need to work together to ensure successful, free, and fair elections.”
Agard proposes committee assignment updates
On Monday, Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Agard instructing her to remove one Democrat from four committees to reflect the Republican’s new supermajority. With the swearing-in of Senator Knodl, the four committees need to be updated to proportionally represent the 66-33 majority that Republicans hold. The four committees affected are:
- Agriculture & Tourism, which now has a 5-4 GOP majority
- Education, which now has a 5-3 GOP majority
- Judiciary and Public Safety, which now has a 5-3 GOP majority
- Universities and Revenue, which now has a 5-4 GOP majority
Senator Agard announced on Thursday that she would like to remove the following members from the impacted committees, and stated that this would help balance workload.
- Sen. Hesselbein, Agriculture & Tourism
- Sen. Jeff Smith, Education
- Sen. Chris Larson, Judiciary & Public Safety
- Sen. Brad Pfaff, Universities & Revenue
- Sen. Mark Spreitzer, Government Operations
Senator Agard also recommended that Sen. Jeff Smith join the new Revenue, Elections, and Consumer Protection Committee, and that Sen. Dianne Hesselbein join the Committee on Government Operations. Sen. Agard’s assignment requests are still pending, as all committee assignments are up to the discretion of the majority leader.
Committee passes bill to repeal personal property tax
On Monday the Senate Committee on Universities and Revenue passed an amended version of Senate Bill 2 which aims to repeal the personal property tax. The amendments come from discussions that the bill’s author, Senator Duey Stroebel (R), had with the Department of Revenue. One of the amendments addresses a series of technical language issues after Governor Evers vetoed a similar bill last session.
The bill was passed 7-2, with Senator Chris Larson (D) and Senator Kelda Roys (D) voting against it. All five Republican members of the committee voted for the bill with Senator Brad Pfaff (D) and Senator Jeff Smith (D) joining them.
Johnson & Kurtz on “UpFront”
State Senator LaTonya Johnson (D) was on WISN’s “UpFront” this past weekend where she discussed the ongoing shared revenue negotiations. When asked if she feels Governor Evers should veto the shared revenue in its current form, Senator Johnson stated, “Yes, he should. The bill is not ready, especially for the city of Milwaukee. There are so many poison pills in this bill relating to the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County.” The bill currently requires that the increased sales tax be approved by a referendum, which the Governor and numerous Democratic lawmakers have advocated against. On the referendum provision, the Senator stated, “That has to be changed. And the reason is without the increased sales tax, the city of Milwaukee will face insolvency Jan. 1, 2025. There’s no exceptions. And it’s too risky to put that to referendum because ‘A’ we can’t guarantee that it will pass, but two the money will come too late.” She concluded by sharing that she feels it is unlikely the referendum would pass, saying “First of all, I want to say that nobody wants to raise taxes, especially during a time when inflation is so high. What makes me so fearful that the referendum won’t pass, I don’t think that the vast majority of people living in this city, in this county, understand exactly how dire this is, which is insolvency if this doesn’t pass. And we can’t risk that.”
Republican Representative Tony Kurtz, one of the authors of the shared revenue bill, was also on WISN’s “UpFront” this past weekend where he discussed the legislation. He shared, “It’s going to be a lot like the budget. It’s going to be some things he’s not going to be crazy about, things we’re not going to be crazy about, but at the end of the day, this is too important of a piece of legislation not to get done in my humble opinion.” Representative Kurtz shared that he hopes to have a committee vote and then an Assembly floor vote on the legislation the week of May 15th, which Speaker Vos has also stated was his goal. Rep. Kurtz also spoke on the referendum requirement, which has been spoken out against by Democrats. “Assembly Republicans are pretty set on the referendum,” the Representative said. “I mean, it’s going to take a major commitment from the governor to get us to change our mind.” He finished the interview by stating, “Obviously, we still have a lot of information to put together. And we’ll see how the rest of the of the week and next couple of weeks play out.”
Melotik running for 24th AD seat
On Monday, Ozaukee County Supervisor and member of the Grafton Town Board Paul Melotik (R) announced that he is running for the 24th Assembly District seat that was left vacant last week when Senator Dan Knodl was sworn in. The release stated, “A longtime resident of Grafton, Paul has successfully co-owned and operated ten different businesses during the course of his career, including the Fire Ridge Golf Course in Grafton, and has served on numerous business association boards. These experiences have instilled in Paul an appreciation for the small businesses across the state that serve as Wisconsin’s economic foundation. In addition, Paul has devoted countless hours to numerous youth sports programs and civic organizations. He has relied on those experiences to become a key local leader on his town board as well as the County Board.“ Melotik is the first candidate to announce a run for the seat which will be decided with a special election on July 18th.
Tatterson running for 24th AD seat
Retired engineer Bob Tatterson (D) has announced he will be running in the special election for the 24th Assembly District. Tatterson ran for the seat in the November election, where he lost to now-Senator Dan Knodl (R) who took over 61% of the vote. In his campaign announcement he stated, “I have the knowledge and skills based on many experiences to make the 24th District the best place to live, work and raise a family in the state. As a research and development engineer I solved complex open-ended problems every day. As a business leader I know how to listen to all constituents, organize for action, make tough investment decisions and get things done efficiently. I have analyzed opportunities and championed investments that have created hundreds of jobs.” He noted a few of his policy stances and also spoke on why he is a better fit to represent the 24th AD than his only opponent, Ozaukee County Supervisor Paul Melotik. The special election will be held July 18th.
A Look at the Week Ahead
- Tuesday May 16th: Joint Finance Committee Exec. Session (DOJ Items– See notice)
- Wednesday, May 17th: Session Day in Both Houses
- Thursday, May 18th: Joint Finance Committee Exec. Session (DATCP & DNR Items– See notice)
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.