Bill Changing CPI Period for ERP Purposes Signed into Law

Last week, Governor Evers signed AB 2/SB 2 into law as, Act 1, a package of changes to laws and programs administered by the Department of Revenue (DOR). The League supports this legislation because it changes the date by which DOR must calculate CPI for the Expenditure Restraint Program from September to August, which better aligns with the timing of local budgeting.

The Act also requires all members of boards of review to complete DOR sanctioned training each year, except that only one member needs to attend training in-person each year. Prior law required that at least one member of the board of review attend DOR training within the two-year period beginning on the date of the board's first meeting. While Act 1 generally took effect on February 21, 2021, the board of review training requirement takes effect on January 1, 2022.

Governor's State Budget -- Impacts on Municipalities Analyzed

Last week, Governor Evers introduced his 2021-2023 state budget proposal as AB 68/SB 111. League staff published a Capitol Buzz on February 16 summarizing items in the proposal affecting municipalities. Read the Buzz here. DOR Secretary Peter Barca provided a budget summary at a League meeting on Friday. See his PowerPoint presentation here.

Additional Items Affecting Municipalities. Since Tuesday, League staff has discovered additional items in the Governor's budget affecting municipalities including annexations, the Expenditure Restraint program, grievance procedures, and the competitive bidding threshold for public construction contracts. READ MORE.

30,000 Population Threshold for Sales Tax Authority. Many local officials have asked why the Governor's local sales tax proposal applies only to communities with populations over 30,000. The Governor's staff has not offered any solid rationale or policy reasons for establishing the cutoff at 30,000. DOR Secretary Peter Barca explained to League members during a Zoom call on Friday that the goal of the provision is to open up discussion on ways to provide local governments with alternative sources of revenue. The League asked for and continues to support a broader sales tax authorization. We anticipate this will be an ongoing, long term discussion with state policymakers.

Possible areas of agreement between Legislature and the Governor? Last week, the Co-Chairs of the Legislature's budget writing committee, Rep. Mark Born and Sen. Howard Marklein, mentioned local transportation aids and broadband as two budget items on which they agree with the Governor prioritizing and on which they could anticipate a budget compromise.

What happens next in the state budget process? The Legislative Fiscal Bureau will take the next 3-4 weeks to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the Governor's bill for the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). Starting in mid to late March, JFC will schedule committee hearings and invite selected agency heads to appear and testify before the committee on their respective agency budgets. Public hearings on the bill are then held in three to five locations throughout the state, starting in early April. After the agency and public hearings, JFC begins meeting several days each week through the end of May to take votes on various aspects of the bill. It is anticipated that the JFC will work from the current budget and not the Governor's budget as its base document for preparing its version of the 2021-2023 state budget.

At the end of the JFC budget process, all JFC modifications to the current budget will be introduced as a substitute amendment to AB 68/SB 111 and sent to the full legislature for floor votes in each house. The legislature generally takes the bill up in June and sends its final product to the governor by the end of the month. The governor completes veto review within 30 days of receiving the bill, and then signs it into law.

Update on the latest Federal COVID Relief Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote and pass this week a massive COVID stimulus bill that includes a state and local government relief component. The bill would create a new State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund that would provide substantial dedicated allotments to all Wisconsin cities and villages. Funds are available until expended and must be used to address the pandemic or its negative economic impacts, including to replace revenue lost, delayed, or decreased as a result of the pandemic. More information is available in the documents linked below.