Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
APRIL 8, 2019

The state's Joint Committee on Finance, a panel of twelve Republican and four Democrat lawmakers tasked with reviewing and amending the two-year executive budget, began deliberations known as "agency briefings" last week. Those briefings are an opportunity for department heads to defend Governor Evers' proposals, and field questions from the sixteen member panel. The briefings also offer a glimpse into the committee's plans for its "executive sessions," which are the period of time when lawmakers consider "motions" or amendments, and often drastically reshape the legislation.

Starting out by calling the budget "irresponsible," committee Co-Chair Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) cited over a billion dollars in tax increases over the life of the biennium.

One of the items most notably in the crosshairs of GOP lawmakers was the Governor's plan to raise the gas tax by nearly 10-cents over the coming two years, and repeal the minimum markup law that is currently applied to fuel purchases. Though definitively cited in Evers' first State of the State speech, his transportation secretary told the committee that gas prices were not likely to save drivers 14-cents per gallon, but could not offer specific numbers for savings at the pump. The current markup requires retailers to mark up their gas prices by 9.18%.

As the new state's school superintendent appeared before the committee, members signaled dismay with a proposed 11% increase in spending for the Department of Public Instruction, who defended the plan as a way to close the state's achievement gap between black and white students in the state.

Lawmakers also outwardly opposed Evers' plan to raise the state's minimum wage to $10.50 by 2023, with annual inflationary indexing that would eventually propel the wage to $15 over time. Democrats argued that GOP lawmakers were taking a "privileged" stance on minimum wage, and contended that Evers' is offering a needed wage increase to lower income individuals. The state's current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.

Other issues discussed were the reinstatement of prevailing wage, increased wages for prison guards, penalties for marijuana possession, and the state's right-to-work law. The GOP-controlled committee seemingly disagreed with the Evers administration on most of those topics, as well.

Governor Tony Evers is proposing that the state of Wisconsin repeal a prohibition on state and local governments' ability to seize private property through eminent domain in order to create biking and hiking trails.

The prohibition was inserted in the last state budget by GOP lawmakers and former Governor Scott Walker. The request came from Rep. Rob Stafsholt, a New Richmond Republican, and recent recipient of WPT's 2018 Property Taxpayer Champion award.

Bicycle enthusiasts and local government officials say that the use of eminent domain to seize private land is important for saving money and completing projects that improve communities. One local government bureaucrat said his county's inability to seize private land ended up costing the county $40,000 on trail redesigns.

The co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance last week announced the public hearing dates for the state budget bill introduced by Governor Tony Evers.

As always, WPT members wishing to attend a public hearing may request more in-depth information on the budget, or assistance with the process by calling our Madison office at 608-255-7473, or e-mailing info@wptonline.org. WPT staff can assist with drafting public testimony, and provide tips for testifying in front of the committee.

"We highly encourage the public to attended these public hearings. Hearing comments, concerns, and opinions from Wisconsin citizens is key for us to craft the best possible budget for our state," the Co-Chairs' statement said.

Written comments can be e-mailed to the committee directly at budgetcomments@legis.wisconsin.gov.

Wednesday, April 10 (10AM-5PM)
Oak Creek Community Center
8580 South Howell Avenue
Oak Creek, WI

Monday, April 15 (10AM-5PM)
UW-River Falls, University Center
Riverview Ballroom #260
500 Wild Rose Avenue
River Falls, WI
Wednesday, April 24 (10AM-5PM)
UW-Green Bay Union
Phoenix Room
2430 Campus Court
Green Bay, WI

Wisconsin voters last week Tuesday approved about $770 million in borrowing or higher property taxes for local schools. That means about 75% of the $1.2 billion in requests were granted by voters. Some of the higher-dollar referendums failed, including $130 million for a new middle school in Neenah.

One of the more notable ballot measures was in the Palmyra-Eagle School District, which asked residents for $11 million. As WPT recently reported, school district officials issued an ultimatum to voters prior to election day; pass this referendum, or the school district will close its doors.

The threat was enough to turn voters off, and the measure failed at the ballot box 61%-39%, leaving district administrators scrambling to figure out their next steps. In the Palmyra side of the district, voters approved the referendum 56-44. On the Eagle side of the district, voters rejected the measure 76-24.

According to the district administrator, the decision as to the fate of the school district is now in the hands of the school board.

According to AAA's "Consumer Pulse" survey, a little more than 60 percent of Wisconsin residents feel that the current transportation funding levels do not meet the state's infrastructure needs.

The survey showed that 25% would like to see an increase to the state's gas tax, 19% feel that charging tolls on interstates would solve the problem, 18% want to see higher license and registration fees, and 15% support a road usage tax. Perhaps the most telling is the 21% of respondents who do not support any effort to boost transportation dollars in the state.

About 25% of roads in Wisconsin were rated in "poor" condition by the American Society of Civil Engineers, equating to over $630 per year, per motorist in vehicle repairs on average.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court race on last week's ballot may be headed for a recount, as liberal-backed candidate Judge Lisa Neubauer appeared to have lost the race by a razor-thin margin.

Conservative-backed candidate Brian Hagedorn, who many thought was sure to lose in Tuesday's election, holds a margin of around 6,000 votes by the official tally. The vote canvass is set to take place this week, when county clerks will certify the election results. It will then be up to Neubauer's campaign to decide whether or not to pay for a recount, though it is in their rights to request one.

Hagedorn called the vote margin "insurmountable," and as many media outlets have reported, no recount has ever produced enough votes to overcome a near-6,000 vote deficit. In 2016, the statewide presidential recount cost $2 million, though a potential recount in this race would be much less, as 1.2 million votes were cast, and 2.9 million were cast in 2016.

A federal judge last week struck down work requirements for Medicaid recipients in two states, but the Wisconsin Medicaid Director told reporters that the Badger State will still impose those requirements until told otherwise.

Able-bodied adults will be required to either volunteer their time or have a job if they want to keep their benefits. In the "lame duck" session in December, lawmakers strengthened requirements for the low-income health insurance program, codifying the administrative rules into law prior to Governor Tony Evers' inauguration. Program recipients will lose their coverage for six months of they are found not to have engaged in work activity for a period of 48 months. The law also allows for the state to charge co-pays of up to $8 for emergency room visits, as well as $8 premiums.

To date, the requirements have not been challenged in court. If a lawsuit should be filed, it's likely that a federal judge would issue an injunction similar to the rulings preventing the states of Arkansas and Kentucky from imposing such rules.


The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has projected that Governor Evers' budget will create a $2 billion structural deficit. Do you think the items in his budget proposal are worth the state running a deficit of this size?  
Every budget starts with a "structural deficit" as Gov. Walker spoke about every two years. Dumb people think this is an issue.

What part of no more spending does he not understand

there is alot of things that could be corrected in the state budget without running such a deficit

prediction no passed budget for 4 years really Compromise an grow up all politicians

Spend, spend, and spend some more. Right back to spending more than we have after doing so well over the past years. Easiest thing to be is a liberal. See yes to everything!!

Enough spending. Taxpayers are expected to live within their means.

Maybe people will wake up to what Evers is a person that whats everything at the expense of the tax payers of this state

Evers pulling a Doyle and trying to break the State.

lawmakers that have never been in business believe that money is always available.....they don't realize that taxes will need to be raised to pay for the deficit

I think that I want to know if the shortfall from Shopko closing is calculated into this. I want to know where he thinks this money is going to come from. I think that WPT has a very good selection of people to represent the majority views in the state. I think that MORE OF US need to organize and head to Madison and go DEMONSTRATE our frustrations on the steps of the Capitol. This is ridiculous. This is insulting.

Evers = Tax, spend, tax, spend, spend, spend

Remember what you asked for when you voted in the present administration! He is on a spending binge with no clear way to pay for things other than to raise taxes or create new streams of revenue from his cronies in the Assembly. My first statement after Evers was elected if you remember was this: "Hold onto your wallets as the spending binge is about to start!"

we don't need deficits,tell Evers this is not the federal government.

He should get some things he wants because he did win the election but, $2 billion is way too much

Going in debt for sure.

Evers is proving himself to be a wingnut. How in the world did he get elected?

We need to spend within our means

A spokesperson for Governor Evers said that his budget "puts people first," and focuses on the "needs of the community." Do you agree?
Does it really matter? Wisconsin is going down the drain.
He is a politician. Therefore if his lips are moving, he is lying.

Seems that the state education system is First...and ALOT of wisconsinites are not part of that

We need to spend more on infrastructure but shouldn't spend more for UW buildings

no my community does not need more taxes so Governor Evers does not speak for everyone

Putting people first by going back to spending more than we have.

its that the people have to pay in more money, more control from government, limiting our freedoms.

Which "people" are put "first"

I don't understand how this is putting people first.

this a budget to full fill is liberal agenda

He puts public employees first.

I can only find a small handful of people within 60 miles of our home who like these ideas. The rest of us are wondering how much money is going to evaporate from our homes to fund these things.

If it was a people first budget than it would not be a budget that is going to end with a $2 billion dollar deficit.

it's a people's budget because they are the ones who will have to pay for "Taxin' Tony's budget.

Some of it is, but overall it is too much spending

Evers is proving himself to be a wingnut. How in the world did he gat elected?

The $768.4 million Powerball ticket was sold in New Berlin, WI last week. Did you buy a ticket?  

I do not buy regularly, only when the jackpots are bigger

Lottery tickets are the ultimate hail mary.

Apparently my ticket was the wrong one

no to both

no, sometimes when amount large. I know that is the wrong time to do so too.

I buy when the jackpot is bigger. Go big or go home!

Don't buy tickets.

I feel that the lottery is a punishment for those who don't know how manage their incomes.

The State of Wisconsin can do a better job of wasting my tax money!

Hardly ever but the odds of winning big ones are horrible

No.All that money comes from the people who don't win

We don't buy tickets often.

Never have purchased one. In retrospect, it may be a better bet than buying expensive seed and burying it in the dirt.

Rarely buy a ticket... A few times a year


Governor Evers' budget would provide nearly $3 million in support for Wisconsin Parks. They currently receive no state aid, and rely solely on user fees. Do you support increasing state aid for the parks system?
No funding for state parks! If people want to see nature scenes, they can watch them on Youtube.

The state parks are a treasure! Their use has been curtailed by budget constraints Shorter hours, shorter seasons, less staff.

Caution Government supports funding it will dictate the control of spending

I use the parks quite often and feel things were going well with out the state aid.

WE are trying to visit all the state parks. Probably Apostle Islands.

I agree supporting the parks, but $1.50/hour raise? I thought that's why all the fees went up. Does this mean the fees are going to be lowered?

state should survice on user fees

State parks need to continue to "stand on their own" , if they are not worthy of visiting why should taxpayers pay for more government employees to sit on their butts and obtain a nice wage and fantastic benefits

I want our state parks to continue and survive and perpetuate. I do not know what to do to help.

If we can not afford things such spending on necessities such as good roads and taking care of our military veterans, then there is no need to spend money on parks.

If they call it a state park support it or privatize it

Hard to make a judgement without out more information

3 million for roads first!

We go to our beautiful state parks often. Not sure if we have a favorite. I do support increasing state aid.

I don't visit parks

Relying solely on user fees is a great idea. Our public schools should work the same way.

A few parks need 'Help'.

Today is Election Day in Wisconsin, with a race for Wisconsin Supreme Court taking center stage. Did you vote in this election? Do you vote in every election? What was the first election you ever voted in?
yes yes ?

Yes of course I voted. Yes, I vote in every election

It is pathetic that the turnout for this election was 29% state-wide. Wisconsin is full of morons.

Yes I voted for the only sensible choice, Hegadorn. His opponent would be legislating from the bench. Which is not a judges job

yes, yes 1982

Of course! Somebody has to keep all the Republicans in this state in check! Lol My first election I voted in was to help get Reagan the presidency.

I vote in most elections. First vote was presidential election in 1972

yes yes and don't remember

1. Yes I voted. 2. I have missed a few over the years but very few. 3. 1966 mid terms.

Yes, we voted all sections and see following Constitutional directives was selected by WI voters. Yeah!!!!!!

Of course I voted, I vote every election. My first vote was in 1975.

yes, I usually vote in every election

Vote conservative in every election.


yes, yes, the first one I could after turning 18

I was too busy working to get out to vote.


Yes I vote in every election. 1960

Yes, I voted and vote in every election!

Yes, I voted being a military veteran it is important to me to exercise my right to vote. I try to vote in every election. My first election was in 1976 while serving in the military.

Yes. Yes. And ever since I could legally vote

Yes I vote in every election

Yes,Yes! Can't remember first time voting,it was too long ago!

I voted in this election because we have a big school referendum on the ballot. I probably missed a few primaries in my lifetime, but I usually vote. Ronald Reagan was the first president I voted for.

yes I voted, I missed last April 2018 voting.

Yes, for this election. Yes, for every election. First election would have probably been November election 1986. I always regret the fact that I was not old enough to have been able to vote for Ronald Reagan.

Yes, ... Rarely miss voting in an election, ... The first election after becoming 18 YO.



It is the policy of WPT, Inc. to publish all comments that are submitted by members each week, often including broad differences of opinion within the weekly responses. Our organization values our role in fostering dialogue within our membership each week, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein.     
No bills to report.

LRB-2611  Memo  UW-Madison Women's Hockey (Stubbs, Shelia ) Congratulating the University of Wisconsin-Madison women's hockey team for winning the 2019 NCAA Division I National Championship title.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 3, Noon
LRB-0490  Memo  Battery to Parole Agent (Hansen, Dave ) Battery or threat to a probation, extended supervision, and parole agent; a community supervision agent; or an aftercare agent or a family member of the agent and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Tuesday, April 9, 5 pm
LRB-2526  Memo  Deaf History Month (Brostoff, Jonathan ) Recognizing April 2019 as Deaf History Month in Wisconsin.  Deadline: Thursday, April 4, 10 am
LRB-1017  Memo  Wetland Mitigation (Wanggaard, Van ) Wetland mitigation banks, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 10, 4 pm
LRB-2487  Memo  Voter Address (Zimmerman, Shannon ) The requirement for stating name and address prior to voting.  Deadline: Friday, April 12
LRB-1565  Memo  Clinical Consultations (Rohrkaste, Mike ) Mental health clinical consultations under the Medical Assistance program and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Friday, April 12, 4 pm
LRB-2629  Memo  Paper Mill Loans (Stuck, Amanda) Revolving loan funds administered by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority for certain activities of paper mills, a paper science grant, and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 17, 5 pm
LRB-2652  Memo  Environmental Audit Program (Brooks, Rob ) Time limits for correcting violations found by the environmental compliance audit program. Deadline: Wednesday, April 17, 5 pm
LRB-0738  Memo  Employment Tax Credits (Hansen, Dave ) Limitation on eligibility for employment-based tax credits.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 10, 5 pm
LRB-1377  Memo  Syttende Mai Weekend (Hebl, Gary ) Proclaiming May 17, 18 and 19, 2019 Syttende Mai Weekend.  Deadline: Thursday, April 11, 4 pm
LRB-2348  Memo  DOC Recruitment (Bowen, David ) The use of billboards to recruit Department of Corrections employees.  Deadline: Thursday, April 11, 5 pm
LRB-2612  Memo  Hemp Regulation (Testin, Patrick ) Regulating hemp, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 17, 5 pm
LRB-1322  Memo  Adoption Tax Credit (Bernier, Kathy ) Creating a nonrefundable individual income tax credit for certain adoption expenses and modifying eligibility for the adoption expenses tax deduction.  Deadline: Friday, April 19, 5 pm
LRB-2481  Memo  Driver School Offices (Zimmerman, Shannon ) Driver school offices in private residences. Deadline: Friday, April 19
LRB-1415  Memo  Cryptocurrency Tax Exemption (Sortwell, Shae ) Sales and use tax exemptions for precious metals and cryptocurrency.  Deadline: Wednesday, April 24, 5 pm