In this update:

  • ICYMI: Budget Signing Alert
  • Budget Updates
  • Administration Updates
  • Election Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

ICYMI: Budget Signing Alert

On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers signed the FY 2023-25 state budget. Please read Michael Best Strategies’ budget alert for details on the notable partial vetoes issued by Gov. Evers and reaction from members of the Legislature.

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Budget Updates

Evers increases per pupil revenue limits

Funding for K-12 schools got a 400-year boost on Wednesday when Gov. Tony Evers used his partial veto authority to change the per pupil revenue limits that had been approved by the Legislature in the FY 2023-25 state budget. Revenue limits determine how much money a school district can raise through a combination of property taxes and state aid. Under Gov. Evers’ partial veto, school districts in Wisconsin will see an annual revenue limit increase of $325 per pupil each year through 2425. Gov. Evers said he used the partial veto because school funding has been lagging and this would provide the consistency school districts need to keep up with rising costs. “While I’ve been able to unilaterally over the last four years increase aid per student by over $300, we know that we will still have a lot of work to ensure that state investments can keep up with inflation,” Gov. Evers said at the budget singing ceremony. “So I also use my broad veto authority to provide school districts with predictable long term increases for the foreseeable future.”

However, Speaker Robin Vos (R) said the governor’s partial veto would hurt the state’s property owners by increasing their taxes. “Wisconsin property taxpayers will also bear the burden of Gov. Evers veto regarding per-pupil school funding,” Speaker Vos said. “By allowing this level into the future, homeowners will experience massive property tax increases in the coming years.”

Evers nixes incomes tax cuts for top two brackets

While the budget passed by the Legislature would have reduced the top income tax rate of 7.65% to 6.5% and the second highest rate of 5.3% to 4.4%, Gov. Evers’ partial veto nixes that change while leaving in place income tax cuts for the two lowest rates. The top tax bracket applies to an income of $405,550 or more for married joint filers, while the second-highest bracket applies to income between 36,840 and $405,550 for married joint filers. Gov. Evers’ partial veto reduced what had been a $3.5 billion income tax cut to $175 million while also leaving the state with more than $3 billion in surplus revenue to start the 2025-2027 biennial budget. Gov. Evers said he was doing “what I can to ensure that tax relief goes to working families who need help affording rising costs, not the wealthiest taxpayer in Wisconsin.”

Republicans were critical of the partial veto with Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) saying “The Governor had a chance to sign the largest tax cut in Wisconsin’s history and provide a tax cut for every taxpayer in the state. Instead, he chose to keep more than $2.7 billion in Madison rather than in the pockets of hardworking families.” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said during a radio interview on Thursday that Republicans would continue to push for tax cuts. “We want to make sure the people of Wisconsin remember who’s on their side and who’s not,” Speaker Vos said. However, Gov. Evers said he would not sign off on any new legislation that enacts the same tax cuts. “[If] their concern now is that there isn’t a big enough tax cut for the middle class, all they had to do was adopt mine to begin with” the governor said.

Evers’ vetoes cut to DEI-related positions at UW System

Under the budget approved by the Legislature, the University of Wisconsin System would have had 188.80 positions that perform functions related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) cut. Gov. Evers’ used a partial veto to nix that cut, ensuring the 188.80 DEI-related positions remain. Gov. Evers said that “Republicans’ decision to prolong their decade-long war on higher education by failing to provide meaningful investments in our University of Wisconsin System and our tech colleges is short-sighted, misguided and wrong for the workforce, wrong for our economy and wrong for our state.” Republicans disputed the notion their budget was anti-higher education. “Contrary to Governor Evers’ statements, Republicans are not waging a war AGAINST higher education,” Speaker Robin Vos (R) said. “We are waging a war FOR higher education by signaling that well-balanced instruction and merit-based advancement should be the foundation of earning a degree.”

Although Gov. Evers’ partial veto removes the DEI-related positions cut, still in place is the $32 million cut to the UW System budget passed by the Legislature. While the money was put in a supplemental appropriation that would allow UW System to petition JFC for a restoration of the funds, Speaker Vos said JFC would not restore the funds without DEI-related programs being removed altogether from UW-System. “We are not giving the UW that money unless they work with us to eliminate all this racial preferences and all the things that are rampant on college campuses,” Speaker Vos said.

Administration Updates

Hammer named Deputy Secretary for DOA

Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld announced Thursday the appointment of Paul Hammer to serve as DOA’s Deputy Secretary effective August 2nd. Mr. Hammer comes to DOA from the Department of Transportation, where he has served as Deputy Secretary since 2019, and also from 2015-2016. “Paul Hammer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will serve the State well,” Sec. Blumenfeld said. “His expertise in State budgeting, procurement, and personnel management and his commitment to public service will no doubt advance DOA’s mission to deliver effective and efficient services to government agencies and the public and I’m excited to work with him.”

Election Updates

Baldwin campaign says it raised over $3.2 million in Q2

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) announced Wednesday that her campaign has raised more than $3.2 million in the second quarter of 2023. According to the campaign, this is the most ever raised for a U.S. Senate race in Wisconsin during an off-year quarter. Sen. Baldwin’s campaign said it had raised more than $5.3 million this cycle, which is more than the total she raised at this time during the 2018 cycle.

Second quarter campaign finance reports are due to the FEC July 15. No Republicans have yet formally announced plans to run against Sen. Baldwin.

Michael Best Strategies (Strategies) helps companies accelerate their success through a combination of strategic business consulting, lobbying, government relations, public affairs, and communications. The firm has thrived by providing a diverse team of professionals with the experience, skills, and relationships necessary to help each client achieve their goals more quickly and fully.