The Michael Best Strategies Wisconsin Team honors all those members of our Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as their families, on this Memorial Day weekend.

In this update:

  • Budget Updates
  • Legislative Updates
  • Election Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

Budget Updates

JFC holds session on Workforce Development, Insurance, Veterans Affairs, Higher Educational Aids Board, and Wisconsin Technical College System

On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee held an executive session where it took action on the following sections of the budget: Workforce DevelopmentInsuranceVeterans AffairsHigher Educational Aids Board; and Wisconsin Technical College System. The committee voted 12-4 along party lines to approve an omnibus budget motion for a number of workforce development initiatives including:

  • $5.25 million annually for the Fast Forward program;
  • $9 million in 2024 and $10 million in 2025 for youth apprenticeship grants;
  • $8 million annually for career and technical education incentive grants.

Similarly, the budgets for the state’s technical college system and Higher Education Aids Board was also adopted along party lines. The committee approved an additional $15.8 million in funding for these two budget items as opposed to the $107.7 million that Gov. Tony Evers and fellow Democrats had called for. Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison) opposed the lower funding number, saying Republicans “can’t say you care about our workforce shortage if you’re providing such a paltry amount” to the technical college system that is responsible for training the skilled workforce.

For Veterans Affairs, the JFC voted to require DVA to hire an outside contractor to study ways to improve the quality of life of residents at the State Veterans Home at King. The GOP motion also increased funding for DVA by $6.4 million in GPR, $3.2 million in program revenue, and $1.4 million in segregated funds, as well as $5 million in GPR for a supplemental appropriation that DVA can request to cover operational costs at the homes.

Watch the full hearing here.

JFC holds session on Revenue, WEDC, Employee Trust Funds, and Miscellaneous Appropriations 

On Thursday, the Joint Finance Committee held an executive session where it took action on the following sections of the budget: RevenueWisconsin Economic Development CorporationEmployee Trust Funds, and Miscellaneous Appropriations. The committee voted 12-4 along party lines to approve an omnibus budget motion for a number of WEDC initiatives including:

  • Require WEDC to spend at least $4 million from previous funding on talent attraction and retention; $2 million of which must be spent on attracting veterans
  • Specify that WEDC may not expend funds for the vibrant spaces grant program.
  • Increase estimated funding by $10 million for 2023-24 and $9 million in 2024-25

Similarly, the committee voted along party lines to pay for new technology at the Department of Revenue to improve delinquent tax collections. They also declined Governor Evers’ call to add auditor positions at the agency’s debt collection operation and instead decided to keep 38 auditors as project positions rather than making them permanent jobs.

In miscellaneous appropriations, JFC unanimously approved an endowment for public affairs cable network Wisconsin Eye that could bring the nonprofit up to $10 million. The proposal requires the network to match dollar-for-dollar the state funding it could receive up to the $10 million that would be put into the fund. In return, Wisconsin Eye will have to remove its paid subscription requirement to view most recorded content of public meetings, a deal Wisconsin Eye President and CEO Jon Henkes told WisPolitics he is “really delighted” with.

Update on JFC’s 2023-25 budget deliberations

See the below graphics showing JFC’s progress on its budget deliberations for the 2023-25 state budget. The first graphic shows the items that already have been addressed by JFC. The second graphic shows the items that will be addressed between now and June 15th.

Fiscal Bureau Papers for next week

The Joint Finance Committee will meet next week on Thursday at 1:00 p.m.. The committee will cover the following items during its executive session:

Legislative Updates

Senate holds hearing on shared revenue plan

Negotiations over increasing state aid to Wisconsin’s municipalities and counties continued this week with the Senate Committee on Shared Revenue, Elections and Consumer Protection holding a public hearing on SB 301, the companion to the shared revenue bill passed by the Assembly last week. The public hearing featured testimony from the bill’s co-authors Sen. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc), as well as local elected officials and interest groups from across the state. In her opening remarks, Sen. Felzkowski noted the complexity in crafting a bill that has so many stakeholders and the necessity of finding common ground among the different groups. “At the end of the day, when the public has had a chance to provide input and negotiations are finalized, nobody is going to see this as a perfect bill,” Sen. Felzkowski said. “What we need to remember is that that is compromise.”

Following the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard (D-Madison) put out a press release in which she said Senate Democrats would continue working with their GOP colleagues on creating a bill that ensures “the needs of our communities are adequately fulfilled without partisan poison pills attached.” “My conversations with Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu have been productive and we both recognize the need for a sustainable solution,” Sen. Agard said. “While Speaker Vos may have drawn a line in the sand, my caucus certainly hasn’t and we will continue to negotiate in good faith for the betterment of our local communities and our state.” Similarly, Sen. Felzkowski noted during the hearing that negotiations between Gov. Tony Evers, Speaker Robin Vos, and Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu are ongoing and that additional changes to the bill are likely.

The sticking point between the negotiating parties reportedly hinges on whether the added sales tax for the city and county of Milwaukee must be approved by Milwaukee voters via referendum or by the city council and county board via enabling legislation. Speaker Vos has stated he will not support the legislation without the referendum requirement, whereas Majority Leader LeMahieu and Gov. Evers are in favor of allowing the city council and county board to use enabling legislation to approve of the sales tax.

Lawmakers introduce housing package

Four bills have been introduced as a housing “package” – A.B. 265266267, and 268. The bills come as Wisconsin needs to build at least 140,000 housing units by the end of the decade to keep pace with current demand, according to Forward Analytics, the research arm of the Wisconsin Counties Association.

A.B. 265 establishes a main street housing rehabilitation revolving loan fund under WHEDA. The revolving loan funds would offer no-interest loans and aim to provide more workforce and senior housing. A.B. 266 aims to make it harder for residents to block new housing as long as a proposed development meets existing zoning requirements. Under the bill, a municipal government must approve a residential housing development if it meets local zoning requirements. It also specifies procedures that apply to judicial review of certain local determinations related to land use. A.B. 267 establishes a low- to no-interest loan program for residents making improvements to homes built before 1980. A.B. 268 establishes a commercial-to-housing conversion revolving loan fund under WHEDA. The purpose of the fund is for WHEDA to award loans as provided in the bill to developers for the conversion of vacant commercial buildings to new residential developments consisting of workforce or senior housing and containing at least 16 dwelling units.

Senator Quinn (R) who cosponsored all four bills, said the housing shortage negatively impacts quality of life, economic development, community growth, and local school systems. “It literally affects everyone of almost every income range to the point where it really is a crisis,” he said. “All of these bills, they’re not silver bullets, but they’re working in connection with one another to address the root causes of this. Doing nothing is not an option.” Jerry Deschane, executive director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, stated, “Nothing is the be-all and end-all or the perfect answer, but these address some very specific challenges and allow housing to move forward that otherwise wouldn’t. It’s not going to be the same in every community, but we think these different bills address very specific problems.”

Lawmakers seek funds to help Packers host NFL draft

Two GOP lawmakers from the Green Bay-area are asking the legislature to approve $2 million in funding to help the Green Bay Packers host the 2025 NFL draft. Rep. David Steffen and Sen. Robert Cowles submitted a motion to the Joint Finance Committee on Monday seeking $2 million for Experience Greater Green Bay, a group that promotes tourism in the Green Bay-area. According to a press release from the two legislators, the NFL draft could draw 240,000 people to Wisconsin and provide $94 million in revenue for the state, including $20 million for Green Bay. “A $2 million investment for a $94 million return is phenomenal,” said Rep. Steffen. “I am proud to have advocated for state support of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, given the significant positive financial impact this event will have on our state.”

During a press conference prior to JFC’s Tuesday executive session, co-chairs Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) said they had heard of the request, but had not yet reviewed the specifics of it. “We consider all requests,” said Rep. Born. “But whether we do it or not … it’s certainly something we’ll take a look at.”

Erpenbach gets nod from Senate committee

The Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to recommend the confirmation of former Democratic state Sen. Jon Erpenbach’s appointment as chair of the Parole Commission. Mr. Erpenbach’s appointment now heads to the full Senate for approval. Should his appointment be confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Erpenbach would serve as chair of the Parole Commission until March 1, 2025.


Election Updates

The deadline to file nomination signatures for the 24th Assembly District special election was on Monday, May 23rd. Only two candidates filed signatures by the deadline and will be on the ballot, eliminating the need for a June 20th primary. The GOP candidate is Ozaukee County Supervisor Paul Melotik, who turned in 369 signatures. The Democratic candidate is retired engineer Bob Tatterson, who submitted 396 signatures and previously ran for the seat and lost in 2022.

Historically, the 24th AD has been a Republican leaning district and with the new legislative maps in place, it has become even more red. An analysis of the new legislative maps says the 24th AD has experienced a six point partisan shift in favor of the Republicans. In 2022, under the new maps, then-Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) captured 61.2% of the vote compared to Mr. Tatterson’s 38.8%. In 2020, under the old maps, then-Rep. Knodl captured 51.4% of the total vote compared to his Democratic opponent’s 48.5%.

Governor Evers has ordered the the 24th AD special election to be held July 18th.

Wikler unopposed as DPW chair

With no other candidates filing paperwork to run for chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW), current DPW chair Ben Wikler will be unopposed in his campaign for a third two-year term. After announcing his intention to run for a third term in March, both Governor Tony Evers and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin came out in support of Mr. Wikler’s continued leadership of DPW. Since Mr. Wikler became chair in 2019, Dem candidate have experienced significant success in statewide races and in the most recent election for governor, the party managed to give $15.6 million to Gov. Tony Evers’ re-election campaign.

The DPW convention will be held on June 10 and 11 in Green Bay. For more details, click here.

Tiffany on UpFront

Representative Tom Tiffany (R-WI-07) was recently on WISN’s “UpFront” where he discussed his potential bid for U.S. Senate. When asked what his decision would be based on, the Congressman shared the following, “The ultimate calculus for me is always ‘where can I do the most good for the people of Wisconsin?’, including when I was in state legislature, and that’s going to be the ultimate question.” He was then asked if he would rather see a large primary or possibly no primary at all. While he noted debate between candidates is beneficial, he stated, “I think it’s probably better to coalesce, and I’m having some discussions with people who have been considering running, and I think it’s important for us to talk ahead of time. I think you’re going to see some discussions that are going to go on behind the scenes that let’s see if we can coalesce around somebody who has the ability to defeat Sen. Baldwin.” Rep. Tiffany acknowledged it will take large financial resources. “It’s going to take a lot. And that certainly enters into the calculus of whether to run or not. You’ve got to be able to fund your campaign in order to complete.”

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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