Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
DECEMBER 31, 2018


Welcome back to another Weekly Insider.

We wish each of you a very happy and prosperous 2019! This week will bring you news from the Capitol and around Wisconsin, circulating legislation, your weekly poll responses, and an all new Weekly Member Poll.

We hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at info@wptonline.org.

Have a great week,

WPT, Inc.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development last week released the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revisions for the month of October and preliminary estimates for the month of November.

The data showed that Wisconsin added a statistically significant 9,900 private-sector jobs from October 2018 to November 2018. From November 2017 through November 2018, Wisconsin added 40,500 private-sector jobs, 19,000 manufacturing jobs, and 8,400 construction jobs, all of which were deemed statistically significant by BLS.

Wisconsin's unemployment rate for November remained at 3 percent, a record 10th straight month that the rate has been at or below 3 percent.

"Wisconsin's economy continued to demonstrate its success in November, adding nearly 10,000 private sector jobs in a month and our unemployment rate remaining at or below 3 percent for a record 10th straight month," DWD Secretary Ray Allen said. "Individuals who are looking to break into employment or find a new career in one of Wisconsin's many high-growth industry sectors should take advantage of the job-seekers labor market by visiting their local job center and speak with an employment and training representative today."

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) late last week also released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for Wisconsin metropolitan areas, major cities, and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include updates to October data and preliminary estimates for November. Local unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted.

In metro statistical areas, the numbers show that November 2018 year-over-year unemployment rates declined in 11 of Wisconsin's 12 metro areas compared to November 2017. Racine, at 3.1 percent, and La Crosse at 2.1 percent, tied their all-time low unemployment rates for any month. Six other Wisconsin metro areas either tied or saw their lowest November unemployment rates on record.

In municipalities, the November 2018 year-over-year unemployment rates declined or stayed the same in 27 of Wisconsin's 32 largest cities when compared to November 2017. Four Wisconsin cities either tied or achieved their lowest unemployment rate for any month on record. Green Bay at 2.5 percent, Manitowoc at 2.7 percent, Neenah at 2.3 percent and Racine at 3.9 percent were among those listed.

In Wisconsin's counties, unemployment declined or stayed the same in 62 of 72 when compared to November 2017. Waupaca, Richland, Racine, Pepin, Menominee, Lincoln, and Crawford counties set or tied their all-time low unemployment for any month on record.

Governor Walker's office announced last week that the State of Wisconsin, for the eighth year in a row, has ended the fiscal year with a surplus. Fiscal year 2017-18 ended with a $588.5 million surplus according to the state's 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) issued by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA).

"Thanks to eight years of our strong financial management and growing economy, Wisconsin has ended every fiscal year we have been in office with a surplus," Governor Walker said. "We are leaving a $588.5 million surplus, allowing the state to enter fiscal year 2018-19 with the second-largest opening balance since 2000. We are leaving Wisconsin in the best financial condition in a generation. This is part of our legacy and it will continue to drive Wisconsin forward."

Included in the numbers were several highlights; Wisconsin has ended every year with a budget surplus under Governor Walker; Wisconsin deposited $33.1 million into the Budget Stabilization Fund, with the balance sitting at $320.1 million; General fund tax collections were $18.4 million above estimates, and; State expenditures were $174 million less than budgeted in 2018.


According to a newly-released survey of Wisconsin's bank CEOs, just over half, or 54 percent, expect Wisconsin's economy to remain the same over the first two quarters of 2019. A quarter of those surveyed expect a weakened economy, and 21 percent forecast growth in the state.

At the end of 2017, 53 percent of the same surveyed group said the state's economy would grow in the first two quarters of this year.

Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed said the state's economy is in excellent health, which is a nine percent jump from this time last year. Fifty-eight percent said the state's economy was "good," and 15 percent said "fair."

Incoming Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has announced the names of several individuals who he has tapped to lead his administration. With the exception of one pick, none have drawn much concern from Republican legislative leaders in the Capitol, though all gubernatorial appointments are subject to confirmation from the Wisconsin Senate. That chamber is controlled by Republicans.

Among those picks were Joel Brennan to lead the Department of Administration, which oversees many administrative and budgetary functions of the Office of the Governor. Mr. Brennan is currently the CEP of Discovery World in Milwaukee, and also served as the Executive Director of the redevelopment authority in the City of Milwaukee. He has also held several other positions including Vice President of the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau, and as an aide to then-Congressman Tom Barrett.

Kevin Carr has been selected to head up the Department of Corrections. He is currently the U.S. Marshall for Wisconsin's eastern district, and has been in that role for nearly a decade. He also worked for 30 years in the Milwaukee County Sheriffs Office.

The Department of Natural Resources will be lead by Preston Cole, who currently serves in Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's administration as the Commissioner of Neighborhood Services in the City of Milwaukee. He was also the Director of Operations for the City of Milwaukee's Department of Public Works, and is the first African-American forester hired by the Conservation Department.

The state's Department of Tourism Secretary will be Sara Meaney, who is the Chief Marketing and Development Officer at Milwaukee Film. She was also managing director for a marketing and advertising agency in Milwaukee, and has had several other positions in advertising and public relations roles in Milwaukee.

Rebecca Cameron Valcq was chosen as the Chair of the Public Service Comission. She is currently a partner at Quarles & Brady law firm, and spent 14 years as an attorney at WE Energeies.

Mark Afable is Evers' pick for the Commissioner of Insurance. He has worked at American Family Insurance for 24 yers, and has been their Chief Legal Officer for the past five years.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer protection's new head will be Brad Pfaff, who is currently the deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Ron Kind. He also spent nearly a decade as the Deputy Administrator for the USDA and has Wisconsin's FSA director.

Mary Kolar will head up the Department of Veterans Affairs. She is currently the District I Supervisor for the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and worked for seven years as the Director of Public Operations at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. She was on active duty for the U.S. Navy for twenty-eight years.

Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld was chosen as secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions, and is currently the executive vice president of special operations for the Total Administrative Services Corporation.

Brian Pahnke will head up the State Budget Office in the Department of Administration, and currently services as the assistant state superintendent for finance management at the Department of Public Instruction.

Governor-elect Evers has also chosen Carolyn Stanford Taylor as the next Superintendent of Public Instruction. She will fill the seat currently held by Evers until the end of his current term. She currently oversees the Special Education Team at DPI, and serves as an Assistant State Superintendent.

Evers' pick for the Secretary of the Department of Transportation is Craig Thompson, who has served as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association for the past 11 years. He also worked at the Wisconsin Counties Association for 15 years. Many positive statements and press releases were issued from various trades and transportation groups around the state following Evers' announcement of the pick. Thompson has advocated in the past for a gas tax increase in order to fulfill the state's transportation needs, and immediately drew doubt from State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald told reporters that he has heard "serious concerns" about the pick.

"I have heard serious concerns over the governor-elect appointing a provocative figure to head the Department of Transportation who is a long-time advocate for special interests. Governor-elect Evers would be better served by nominating someone who worked in a less controversial role during previous policy debates."

The City of Racine Council recently told their police department that they must only issue nominal citations for those first time offenders caught in possession of marijuana, equaling 25 grams or less. Those fees, according to the council, should range from $1 to $75.

A recent bipartisan spike supporting for marijuana penalty reform has popped up around the nation, with many cities, including Madison and Milwaukee, have decriminalized possession of certain amounts of marijuana. Rather than referring those caught to the district attorney for criminal prosecution, local police issue a municipal citation for first-time offenders.

But Racine's Chief of Police, along with the Racine County Sheriff, came out opposed to the City Council's directive, and instead punted the issue to state government, saying the decision should be made in Madison.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos chimed in, siding with law enforcement.

"I am willing to have a discussion about what are the appropriate sentences for each crime," Speaker Vos said. "But the City Council doesn't get the right to say we're going to prosecute crimes differently on a state charge, than someone in Mount Pleasant or Caledonia. That's just not the way the system works."

One of the largest sticking points of the debate is the cost to incarcerate individuals in state prisons for non-violent crimes. One inmate in Wisconsin costs over $30,000 to incarcerate for a year. Vos has also told reporters that he is in favor of some medical marijuana initiatives, but not recreational.


  Despite failing to make it through the legislative process for an entire year, Kimberly-Clark will still receive $28 million in tax dollars through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. How do you feel?  
Yes I see a fair amount of irony with this issue

Excessive Corporate Welfare.

Walker is leaving the governorship in a cloud of shame. I regret my vote for him in 2010.

Who is next on the corporate welfare handout?

Corporate welfare is bad policy. Gov Walker should be ashamed he signed it.

I am happy they are staying but its the problem that government has to solve the issue

Government should not interfere with economy

Good plan and this has been in the works and glad Gov Walker finalized his deal.

Just waiting for all companies to now ask for help

What if after 3 years they pull out and leave WI high and dry? I would like to know some details!

Got their loot before the door hit Walker in the backside.

The corporate welfare circus will begin

As long as WEDC gives me $28 million to keep my farm open for another five years, I'll gladly support this plan.

Economically it makes sense. I support keeping jobs in Wisconsin.

Liberal groups in Madison filed a lawsuit to stop the state's new early voting laws, which restrict early voting to no longer than two weeks before an election. Do you support the lawsuit?
2 weeks is plenty of time, our town clecrks in rural areas are busy with life instaed of having to respond to people who want to vote early for 4 to 7 weeks.
I do favor uniformity, but there's zero doubt this is is aimed at reducing the opportunity to vote in Democratic areas. That being said, giving people 14 days to vote is plenty -- and frankly, zero people (Democrats) will say, you know, I was going to vote 20 days before the election, but now that I can't, forget it. This is a bad PR move for the GOP and gains them very little.

Why does there always have to be a lawsuit. Two weeks should be enough time and it should save money.

Vote on one day only or via absentee ballot. This early voting crap is out of control

Too much fraud in M&m, Why shouldn't it be uniform throughout WI?

My wife is a twsp. clerk and meeting all these people several weeks prior to election to vote gets a big ridiculous. I like the two week thing.

In large communities 2 weeks is not enough. It will put a lot of pressure on their staff

Personally think 2 weeks is too long. To extend it would be stupid and costly. Voter ID is a must nationally! Why the hell would ANY American not agree??? The arguments against are all rubbish!

I feel two weeks is a enough for early votes and it makes it across the state

Voting should be limited to avoid fraud, one day is even better

Two weeks is enough and I voted a week before. Its dragging out the voting and wasting taxpapers money in having more than two weeks.

If more than two weeks is needed why not allow voting 6 months early?

I think early voting is nothing but a HUGE invitation for voter fraud. In Eau Claire you vote early and vote often. There are very few reasons that someone can't get to the city clerk and show ID and get an absentee ballot and then through computers they are totally blocked from voting again. Technology is there we just need to use it. Liberals don't want that!

You should only be able to vote early if you can't go to the polls on election day.

This voting mess is just that.

hard to stuff a ballot box in two weeks

Two weeks is long enough

No one should be able to vote in less than 2 weeks. Things change right up to the electon.

A federal judge in Texas has ruled that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. Good ruling or bad ruling?  

Not sure, hope it's a good ruling

Just what the US needs, even more instability. Can't we put out some fires before starting new ones?

Something needs to be done about the high cost of medical insurance and the high costs of medical care in this country. The Mayo clinic should become a model of excellent care while controlling costs. Frontline did a wonderful program on the Mayo Clinic. The Affordable Care Act is helping many farm families afford health insurance. Maybe that judge needs to be better aware about what is going on in the country not just aware of his own government provided health insurance.

He is right. Too bad the liberals don't care about the Constitution. They want to make up their own rules as they move along.

Do we all really know what's even in the Affordable Care Act, I doubt it?

Now....what are you going to do to fix the healthcare system! Y'all talk a lot but have seen nothing to replace what was a complete disaster from the beginning!

It's anything but affordable!!!!!

affordable care was a liberal idea for socialise medicene and the Republicans failed in correcting issues in the plan

The Affordable Care Act is unaffordable

The judge had good reasons for his ruling.

Obama care has made a mess of health care Obama care rates are so high that many people are getting priced out of the market. $1,580 per month with a $6,000 deductible for a total of $24,960 on a $64,000 income is not affordable. Spending 39% of your gross income for health care is not to my notion affordable. Question to me where does that leave people with pre existing conditions? Out in the cold - again! I have a wife with Lupus - I understand pre existing conditions. Are the insurance companies reaping a windfall? I don't know - is anyone chacking on this? Again no information! Is there any oversight? Even from news media is not asking questons!

The Government was never built to mandate that the people are to buy any particular goods and or services. Sooo the "affordable care act" did just that, forcing the population to buy a good or service or both. That's just wrong. And not only that, it neither made care more affordable, nor did anything to get costs in line. HUGE failure. HUGE.

The affordable care act is unconstitutional but the need for health care reform still exists and the lack of results from politicians is appalling, term limits, get it done or retire

Now can we go back to own doctor more choice less cost better coverage?

It wasn't affordable or cost effective. Premiums were up, coverage was down, with more out of pocket.

Governor-elect Tony Evers met with President Donald Trump at the White House last week, along with all newly-elected governors from around the nation. Are you hopeful that Evers will work across the aisle and with President Trump?  
It's clean Evers and Trump are miles apart on most everything

Hopeful? yes... Expecting any progress? NO.

I am hopeful he will work with the President but I really expect that he will be Democatic partisin as he governs Wisconsin.

Everything will get unimaginably worse and never get better.

I'm hopeful that Governor Evers wants to work hard and follow the wishes of those who elected him for positive change.

Nobody works with anybody any more. Not even the wimpy Republicans.The Left is nuts and most Repubs are afraid to stand up for what is right. I am very frustrated with politicians. Afraid for the future of our country.

Regardless of political party, there isn't much working across the aisle, I don't fore see it starting now.

Evers was elected to worry about Wisconsin not only the federal government

Tony Evers has his liberal agenda

Their common goal and respect should make it easy to work together

Yes I hope they will work together. Since Evers is our governor now,, working together will help our state.

Hopeful, but will not happen. It is always Party first on both sides.

Evers was a lousy administrator at Dept of Ed and I don't think will do better as a governor. I will pray for him to gain wisdom and to work with legislators to the betterment of our State. Am I holding out great hope - NO!

Don't think their minds would meet.

Can we just all get along I think the two party system needs to retire, just honestly represent your constituents

I answered yes because I'd LIKE to be an idealist. I don't think Gov-elect Evers will work across the aisle because I AM a realist.

WPT wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! What are your plans for the holiday? Traveling? Church? What special gifts did you buy for your loved ones this year? Did you ever believe in Santa? If so, when did you learn he wasn't real? Merry Christmas!    
Happy New Year !
Church and family time
Hosting Christmas celebration for wife's side of family including a Santa Visit for the kiddos. My sibling is hosting for my side of the family.
My 2nd grade teacher accidentally told me about Santa. Oops.
I feel very blessed. I want to take this opportunity to compliment our local police and sheriff personnel who raise funds and provide gifts to underprivileged children at Christmas Time, through the Shop With Cop Program. You officers are awesome caring people. Thank you for everything you do for the communities of Wisconsin.
No 1 is church to thank God for His Great Gift of a Savior.Family will all be here on a particular day.Wife prepares "meals for millions".
With family at home.
Merry Christmas!
Church and family gatheing
I still believe in Santa. Merry Christmas!
Home for the Holidays. Santa wasn't always in our home when we grew up,, love seeing the children nowadays, excited about Santa.
spending time with family (25)
My wife and I did our Christmas shopping in August, took all my children and grandchildren to the pre season Packer game. Our children and grandchildren will gather at our oldest son and daughter-in-law's home in Chippewa Falls on Christmas day. My wife and I will attend Christmas eve candlelight service and Christmas day services.
Hunting the holiday antlerless deer hunt. Enjoying the WISCONSIN Great Outdoors!!!
Happy New Year! Going to be a quiet holiday week. Church for sure.
Don't forget the real reason for the season that Christ was born in Bethlehem!
You mean Santa's not real.......
Not sure of my plans, but will stay close to home so I can milk my cows. No special gifts for loved ones yet, but I still have a week to shop. I did believe in Santa but had a sad awakening one day when the Easter Bunny told me Santa was not real. Sad.

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.
No bills to report.