In this update:
- Budget Updates
- Legislative Updates
- Administration Updates
- Election Updates
- Fundraising Opportunities
JFC holds exec session on Public Instruction and Transportation
On Tuesday, the Joint Finance Committee held an executive session where it took action on the following sections of the budget: Public Instruction and Transportation. The committee had intended to take up the University of Wisconsin System as well, but dropped it from the agenda shortly after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the college system’s funding should be cut by $32 million. JFC has not yet rescheduled an executive session to act on the UW System’s budget.
In an 11-4 party-line vote, JFC increased DOT funding by $1.55 billion over the next two years, including a one-time transfer of $555.5 million from the general fund to pay for road projects. As part of the motion, the funding source for mass transit was changed from the transportation fund to the general fund, a move Democrats opposed. Rep. Evan Goyke noted the change in funding source would pit mass transit projects against other state priorities such as health care and education spending. JFC Assembly co-chair Mark Born disagreed, saying the Republican plan includes more spending on road projects than Gov. Evers had proposed while also borrowing less money to do it.
A motion to increase funding for the Department of Public Instruction by $1 billion was approved 11-4 along party lines. The motion approved by JFC reflected a broader agreement struck between Gov. Evers, Speaker Vos, and Sen. Majority Leader LeMahieu on shared revenue that also increased funding for K-12 traditional public schools, as well as public charter schools and choice schools. The motion includes an annual $325 per pupil increase on revenue limits, $50 million to improve reading and literacy outcomes, and $30 million in additional funding for school-based mental health services. The motion also increases the low revenue ceiling to $11,000.
JFC holds exec session on Health Services, Military Affairs, and Children and Families
On Thursday, JFC held an executive session where it took action on the following sections of the budget: Health Services, Military Affairs, and Children and Families. The budget for each agency was approved 11-4 along party lines.
JFC approved $3.1 billion in additional spending for DHS that includes both state and federal funding streams. Gov. Evers had originally proposed a $5 billion increase for the agency, so a number of Democratic priorities were not included in the final budget. The GOP motion to amend the DHS budget approved by JFC contained 54 items, including $354.2 million in state dollars for Medicaid’s cost-to-continue estimate and $88.7 million to fund a 5% rate increase for Medicaid home- and community-based services. Also in the budget was $26.6 million in state funds to increase payments to hospitals that serve a disproportionate number of Medicaid patients.
JFC approved $51.7 million in additional GPR funding for the Department of Military Affairs, including $45 million for a statewide interoperable radio to replace the current WISCOM system. According to WisPolitics, the cost to replace the current system is estimated to be between $100-$150 million with $45 million needed for design and implementation. Gov. Evers had also included funding for the radio system replacement in his budget proposal.
Children and Families
Gov. Evers had originally proposed a $763.4 million boost in funding for DCF with $341.1 million going towards Child Care Counts, a program that provides subsidized state payments to child care facilities. Instead, the GOP motion approved by JFC included a $129.1 million increase in funding for DCF, but the motion did not include any funding for the child care facility subsidies. Democrats opposed the move, with Gov. Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback tweeting “Wisconsin Republicans waited until many working families in their districts were fast asleep before they voted to gut hundreds of millions of dollars for Child Care Counts to make child care more affordable and accessible statewide. Profiles in courage.” However, Rep. Jessie Rodriguez said Republicans were working on a proposal to address child care. “There is a packet of bills that will be coming up soon that will address the child care desert that we hear about, helping people to be able to open more child care centers,” she said.
Update on JFC’s 2023-2023 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 still need to be addressed by JFC.
To see all LFB budget papers: click here
Evers says he’ll veto state budget if GOP cuts UW System funding
On Wednesday Governor Evers told reporters that he will veto the state’s FY 2023-25 budget if it cuts the University of Wisconsin System’s funding, as Speaker Vos has proposed. Speaker Vos shared that he is looking to cut $32 million from the UW System budget, an amount equal to what he says the system spends annually on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Speaker Vos stated, “For people on the left, (efforts to promote diversity have) become their new religion. They no longer go to church on Sunday, but boy, are they trying to make sure everybody is evangelized on campus, that’s there only one acceptable viewpoint. That’s not what I think taxpayers should be funding.” Governor Eves told reporters that he wouldn’t sign the budget if Republicans follow through on the proposed cuts. Cutting the university system’s budget when the state has a $7 billion surplus is “irrational” and “ridiculous,” Gov. Evers said.
When informed about the governor’s veto threat, Speaker Vos said he doubted the Governor would veto a budget where a majority of his priorities are funded, over one issue. He said if Gov. Evers were to do so, Republicans would begin work on a new spending plan in October and force the governor to explain to voters why months have gone by without new funding. Assembly Republicans are “unanimous in saying that if the governor would make a mistake and try to pick one thing out of an $80 billion budget, to say we have to spend money how he sees fit, that’s not going to work,” Speaker Vos said.
Legislature passes bill package addressing shared revenue and education funding
The Legislature passed two bills as part of a deal brokered by Gov. Evers, Speaker Vos, and Majority Leader LeMahieu to increase shared revenue funding for local governments across the state. The shared revenue bill, AB 245, passed the Assembly 68-26 with 21 Democrats and five Republicans voting against the measure. The bill passed the Senate 21-15 with six Democrats and seven Republicans voting in opposition.
The education funding bill, SB 330, passed the Assembly 62-31 with two Democrats from Milwaukee joining all Republicans to support the bill. In the Senate, the bill passed 24-9 with two Democrats from Milwaukee joining all Republicans in support of the measure.
Both bills now head to Gov. Evers’ desk for his signature.
Read MBS’ memo to learn more about the shared revenue deal: click here
GOP Lawmakers introduce liquor bill
A group of Republican lawmakers have introduced AB 304, a bill that creates significant regulatory changes to the state’s alcohol laws and creates a new office within the state Department of Revenue to enforce the new rules. A few of the most notable provisions include providing a pathway for contract brewing, winemaking, and distilling; allowing individuals in the alcohol industry to invest in a new business that is also in the industry, but only up to a certain percentage; and redefining what is considered a “malt” beverage.
The Assembly Committee on State Affairs held a public hearing on the bill this week where they recommended passage 13-1. At the hearing, Rep. Rob Swearingen (R), one of the bill’s authors, shared that talks and negotiations for this legislation have been going on for years. He also noted that everyone benefits in some way from this bill, though some are also negatively affected. Proponents say that consumers of alcohol products will see no difference, as this bill focuses solely on the sale, distribution, and production of alcohol.
DATCP Secretary announces leadership appointments
This week, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary Randy Romanski announced three new appointments to leadership. He appointed Mike Strigel as Assistant Deputy Secretary, Robby Personette as Administrator of the Division of Agricultural Resource Management, and Michelle Reinen as Administrator of the Division of Trade and Consumer Protection.
Mr. Strigel received his B.A. in communication from Cornell University and a Master of Science degree in land resources from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He has spent the last six years serving as Executive Director of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center in Monona.
Mr. Personette has most recently served as the Director of Agrichemical Management at the Department, but has worked in various roles for the past two decades.
Ms. Reinen has been with DATCP since 1995 and served in various roles including Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Program and Policy Analyst, and Consumer Protection Investigator.
The new appointees will assume their positions on July 19th.
Evers hints at third term
This past weekend, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin held their annual convention at which Governor Evers addressed the attendees. The Governor brushed off questions about whether he would run for a third term saying he would make the decision down the road. He then stated that everyone at the convention is family, and said, “I don’t care what you call me. You can call me governor. You can call me Tony. You can call me two-term Tony, or three-term Tony,” seemingly hinting at a third run.
An official announcement has not been made by the governor on whether he will run for re-election in 2026.
Watch Day 1 coverage: click here
Watch Day 2 coverage: click here
Gallagher won’t run for U.S. Senate
Last Friday, U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher (WI-08) announced that he will not be entering the race for U.S. Senate against Senator Tammy Baldwin. Rep. Gallagher was named Chair of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party which he says provides “a rare, bipartisan opportunity in the 118th Congress to help restore American strength, prevent war in the Pacific, and defend our basic freedoms from communist aggression.” Rep. Gallagher shared that he is passing on the race to focus on that work and representing the 8th Congressional District. He stated, “I believe that when we look back in 50 years, the American people will ask: Did our elected leaders rally as a country and confront the Chinese Communist Party threat before it was too late? Continuing to lead this fight in the House of Representatives is the best way for me to help answer that question affirmatively.”
In response to Rep. Gallagher foregoing a chance to run against Sen. Baldwin, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) issued a statement. “Mike Gallagher, Mitch McConnell’s handpicked Senate recruit, passed on running because he knew he couldn’t beat Tammy Baldwin,” said Arik Wolk, rapid response director for DPW. “The Wisconsin GOP is staring down another chaotic, messy, intra-party primary with Sheriff David Clarke leading the pack.”
Now that Rep. Gallagher is out, those considering a run include U.S. Representative Tom Tiffany (WI-07), as well as businessmen Eric Hovde and Scott Mayer. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has also hinted at a possible run, specifically saying he would not rule it out. “As time goes on he may make a determination of what to do with the branding he has built up over the years, but not now,” said Judy Wilkinson, a Clarke spokesperson. “Clarke would never take anything off the table as it relates to his future.”
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