Capitol Notes
Wisconsin Political and Legislative Update

FROM: Tony Langenohl
              Capitol Consultants, Inc.
              & Wimmer Company, S.C.

DATE:  July 8, 2015

SUBJECT: State Assembly Passes 2015-2017 Budget
In This Issue
State Assembly Passes Budget, on to Gov's Desk
Legislative Reaction
Democratic Amendments to the budget
Various LFB Memos related to Budget
Capitol evacuated during debate
Walker's campaign maps out announcement tour
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Assembly Passes the '15-'17 Budget; on to Gov.'s Desk




Tonight the Wisconsin State Assembly passed the 2015-2017 State Budget in the same form that passed the State Senate, on a 52-46 vote. 11 Republicans (Representatives K. Bernier, E. Brooks, J. Edming, D. Heaton, S. Krug, L. Nerison, T. Novak, W. Petryk, K. Ripp, T. Tranel, N. Vander Meer) joined 35 Democrats (Rep. Danou excused) in voting against the bill.


Democrats attempted to amend the budget bill with 31 amendments, (see below) all of which were tabled on a party-line vote.


The bill now goes to Governor Walker for his veto review and eventual signature.

Governor Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he "hopes to sign the budget late in the coming week."  Governor Walker is expected to formally announce that he is joining the large list of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for President at an event in Waukesha on Monday, July 13th in Waukesha. 


The Governor's Veto Power: 


Article V, Section 10, of the Wisconsin Constitution provides the Governor with the power of partial veto for any appropriation bill, including the biennial budget bill. 

The "partial veto" means that the Governor may selectively "delete" portions of the budget bill, instead of just the bill in its entirety.   So, both language and dollar amounts in a budget bill may be vetoed by the Governor. 

The Governor may not create a new word by rejecting individual letters in words, and may not create a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences. 

After the Governor signs the budget, the Legislature has a chance to review the Governor's partial vetoes and may, with a two-thirds vote by each house, enact any vetoed portion into law, notwithstanding the objections of the Governor. 


Previous Budget signing dates, locations and # of vetoes:

Date signed 
Location of signing event, why
# of vetoes
? ?
2013-2015 Sunday, June 30, 2013 (Gov. Walker) Catalyst Exhibits, Pleasant Prairie- Company that moved to WI from IL 57
2011-2013 Sunday, June 26, 2011 (Gov. Walker) Fox Valley Metal-Tech, Ashwaubenon, chosen to highlight manufacturing tax cuts included in the budget
2009-2011 Monday, June 29, 2009 (Gov. Doyle) Governor's Mansion, Madison 81
2007-2009 Friday, October 26, 2007 (Gov. Doyle) UW Madison campus 33

Return to table of contents


Legislative Reaction


Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester)

"I am pleased that the Assembly gave final legislative approval to this solid budget that continues to reform Wisconsin and move our state forward.  The new two-year spending plan increases aid to K-12 schools, freezes UW tuition, fully funds SeniorCare and freezes property taxes. This budget is good for Wisconsin and its taxpayers.


"This conservative budget simplifies the tax code and reduces the marriage penalty on state tax returns.  It has no new state income or sales taxes and eliminates the local prevailing wage requirements for government construction projects.


"This budget also assists the most vulnerable populations in our state.  It protects our long-term care programs like IRIS and FamilyCare and spends more than $1 billion on BadgerCare. 


"I would like to thank the thousands of Wisconsin citizens who reached out to their legislators about the important issues impacting the state.  Their input helped improve the spending plan.  I look forward to Governor Walker signing the state budget into law in the near future."



Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha)

"Incredibly, the Republican legislature took Governor Walker's historically harmful budget and made it even worse - the worst budget I have ever seen in Wisconsin. This budget, which will harm Wisconsin mightily, started and ended with accomplishing two primary goals: paying back the out-of-state special interests that spend money on Republican campaigns and helping Governor Walker pander to far-right presidential primary voters.

"There is no part of what makes Wisconsin great that goes unharmed with this budget. And it's time for Republicans to take responsibility for creating this budget disaster with their extreme mismanagement of our state's finances over the past four and a half years.

"My Democratic colleagues who have heard from citizens from across the state have told us how damaging this Republican budget is to their livelihoods and their communities, so we offered many amendments that were true to Wisconsin values. Unfortunately every Democratic amendment was rejected - nearly every one on a party-line vote - as Republicans passed up every opportunity to make this budget better.
"Democrats will continue to stand up for the people of Wisconsin and the values we've held dear for generations: quality public education, a world-class university system, economic development and quality infrastructure, and standing up to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of Wisconsin's hardworking middle-class families." 


Democratic Amendments to the budget


Throughout the course of the debate on the budget, Assembly Democrats made several attempts to amend the budget.  Each of their amendments were tabled on a party-line vote.

  • Assembly Amendment 1- Would require the state to take federal medicaid expansion dollars and implement a state exchange  ( Tabled )
  • Assembly Amendment 2- Would also require the state to take federal medicaid  expansion dollars. (Tabled)
  • Refer the Budget to the Committee on Education- Assembly Democrats attempted a procedural move to have the budget bill referred to the Assembly Committee on Education for further debate and review. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 3-This amendment creates a Wisconsin Student Loan Refinancing Authority ( Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 4- This amendment deals with K12 education and charter schools. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 5- This amendment would require background checks for teachers and employees at private schools that receive public funds (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 6- This amendment restores cuts to the Educational Communications Board, and requires accepting federal expansion of Medicaid. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 7- This amendment would make changes to the parental choice program. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 8-This amendment would delete the shoreland zoning changes included in the budget. (Tabled) 
  • Assembly Amendment 9 -This would add funding to the SEG appropriation for Financial assistance for responsible  units re; recycling. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 10-This would provide additional funding for BadgerCare and raise the FPL level for eligibility. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 11 -This amendment deletes changes to Complete Streets a funding change related to bike lanes in the transportation budget. (
  • Assembly Amendment 12-This amendment would make changes to BadgerCare and require accepting funds through the federal expansion of the Medicaid program. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 13- This amendment eliminates the changes at Workers Comp, the change from living wage to minimum and other labor-related provisions. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 14-This amendment focuses on undoing changes that affect local governments including the "room tax" provision, sprinkler changes, pipeline and changes to the Milwaukee County Executive's powers. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 15- This amendment would undo tax changes in the budget, and requires accepting federal funds for medicaid expansion.
  • Assembly Amendment 16- This amendment would have removed language allowing payday lenders to sell insurance products. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 17-This amendment would have removed the special needs vouchers from the budget (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 18-This amendment deals with accepting the federal medicaid expansion dollars.
  • Assembly Amendment 19-This amendment deals with the FamilyCare and Long Term Care changes in the budget (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 20-This amendment indexes the homestead tax credit and takes the federal medicaid expansion dollars. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 21-This amendment deals with restoring the Wisconsin earned income tax credit. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 22-This amendment deals with tax credits for attending private religious schools (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 23-This amendment deals with changes to the UW System and requires accepting federal medicaid expansion funds. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 24- This amendment deals with treatment alternatives to incarceration.  ( Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 25- This amendment deals with the transportation, and ensuring that several projects stay on track. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 26-This amendment is the Democrat's Tax package. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 27-This amendment is the Democrat's Environmental package. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 28-This amendment would require non-fiscal policy items to go through a process in the budget. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 29-This amendment deals with care for veterans and requires accepting federal medicaid expansion funds (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 30-This amendment deals with reimbursement for early childhood care. (Tabled)
  • Assembly Amendment 31- This amendment deals with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. (Tabled)



Various Legislative Fiscal Bureau Memos


As part of the conclusion of the Legislature's action on the budget, several reports are required to be prepared by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau and several are traditionally requested to impact the debate on the budget passage.  Below please find links to the memos and brief descriptions of key points in the memos.


Summary of Senate Amendments 1 and 2 to the Budget Bill:

Yesterday the State Senate adopted two amendments to the budget bill that passed the Joint Committee on Finance.  Those changes include the addition of prevailing wage, deletion of open record changes, among others.  Here is a memo that summarizes all of those changes.


Non-Fiscal Policy Items in 2015 SB 21 (as amended by Joint Finance)

At the request of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) prepared a memo on the non-fiscal policy items that are contained in 2015 AB/SB 21.  The LFB memo identified over 100 new items added by the Joint Finance Committee, and 18 that the Governor introduced that the Committee removed for separate consideration.  The memo can be found here.


Unfunded Mandates and Items that would Restrict Local Control

Also requested by Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) this memo from LFB lists provisions that were included in this budget that represent unfunded mandates or that restrict the authority of local units of government.  Link to memo here.


Condition of the State's General Fund for 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 

The LFB also released a memo on the condition of the state's general fund for 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 bienniums under the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Finance.  


With the disclaimer that the memo is based on "commitments under current law and the provisions of the Finance Committee's 2015-17 budget recommendations." And noting that  "No assumptions are made regarding revenue modifications in 2017-19 due to such unknowns as future law changes or economic factors. Likewise, no assumptions are made to appropriations regarding changes in caseloads, population estimates, enrollments, employee compensation, or inflation," the memo notes that 2017-2019 budget is projected to end with $490 million structural deficit.


LFB creates this memo "to provide policymakers with an indication of the beginning point for the budget of the succeeding biennium. It does not project whether the next budget will have a surplus or a deficit (the Constitution requires that the Legislature pass a balanced budget). Rather, the analysis is intended to serve as a guide during current budget deliberations and provide some insight regarding the succeeding budget."


Two items of note as well from the memo:

  • when this same memo was done for the preceding 10 biennia, only 1 biennia (2013-2015) had a positive structural balance.
  • the budget stabilization fund currently has a balance of $280 million.
Comparative Summary of Recommendations (Governor & Joint Committee Finance)
This document uses the Governor's recommendations and outlines the  changes  by subject area the provisions that the Joint Committee on Finance modified, removed or added.  Link to website where the entire document can be searched or subject areas can be searched.

Earmark Transparency Report

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau is required to prepare an earmark transparency report on each amendment to the budget bill.  For the purpose of this report an "earmark" is defined as a provision that does either of the following: (1)authorizes or requires the payment of state moneys to a specific beneficiary or beneficiaries in a manner not determined by laws of general applicability for the selection of the beneficiary or beneficiaries; or (2) creates or modifies a tax deduction, credit, exclusion, or exemption that applies to a specific beneficiary or beneficiaries in a manner not determined by laws of general applicability for the selection of the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Here is a link to the memo.





Capitol evacuated during debate because of bomb threat


About four hours into the debate the capitol was evacuated for what the Capitol Police termed a credible bomb threat.  All lawmakers, staff and members of the public were evacuated from the capitol for around two hours.  The downtime led to some bipartisan bonding over beer and Tweeting of Pics.






Walker 2016


Governor Walker's campaign maps out post announcement tour:


Various media outlets have reported today that following his expected formal presidential campaign announcement on Monday in Waukesha, Governor Scott Walker will hit the first four states in the Republican Primary nominating process; Nevada, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa.


In addition to the "First Four" states, Fox 6 News reports that Governor Walker will also travel to Georgia in his first week on the trail, and will also hit Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina.




Monday- Wisconsin

  • Governor Walker expected to announce his presidential campaign at 5:15 PM


Tuesday- Nevada:

  • The Governor is scheduled to do a mid-day event in Las Vegas, Nevada


Wednesday- South Carolina:


The Governor is scheduled to do;

  • a morning event in Charleston, South Carolina
  • a midday event in Columbia, South Carolina
  • an afternoon event in Greenville, South Carolina

Thursday- New Hampshire:


The Governor is scheduled to do; 

  •  a midday event in Merrimack, New Hampshire
  • an afternoon event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire


  • On Friday Governor Walker will begin a three-day Winnebago trip across Iowa, starting in Davenport, than traveling to Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.
  • On Saturday, the Governor will be in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Carroll, Ames and Marshalltown.
  • On Sunday, the Governor will be in Cedar Falls, Plainfield and Dubuque.



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