Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
FEBRUARY 12, 2019

Republican-backed legislation that would provide income tax relief to middle class Wisconsinites, or individuals making $100k per year or less, and families making $150k per year or less, passed the Joint Finance Committee by a vote of 10-3 last week, and is now heading to the full Assembly this afternoon.

The Republican-controlled legislature and Democrat Governor Tony Evers are in agreement on what the bill accomplishes, but far from agreement on how to pay for the measure. Evers would like to repeal a key manufacturing income tax credit, while Republicans would like to use part of a $692 million budget surplus.

Regardless, the measure heads to the Assembly this afternoon, where it is all but certain to pass the chamber and head to the State Senate. Governor Evers has signaled he will not sign the bill.

Additional hints into Governor Tony Evers' first state biennial budget were released earlier this week, including proposals that would assist local governments in replacing lead pipes, as well as providing increased access to dental care for Wisconsin residents.

Under the plan, the state would borrow $70 million over the next two years to implement a program by which local governments could enter into a "forgivable loan" program to help pay for the costs to replace lead water pipes. According to a source, the program would also provide grants to farmers who wish to mitigate water pollution.

The dental plan would use $43 million to expand access to care for low-income Wisconsinites who are currently enrolled in the state's Medicaid program. It would increase funding to current grant programs, and increase reimbursement levels for non-profit dental providers by 50 percent if their clientele is at least 50 percent low-income.

The newly-created transportation "task force" and its 34 member "stakeholders," which were reported on in last week's WPT Weekly Insider, will soon be set to deliver their recommendations to Governor Evers on how to fund the state's transportation infrastructure in the long-term.

One member of the task force, former State Representative Robb Kahl, who now serves as the Executive Director for the Construction Business Group, said a "starting point for short term revenue" is 10 cents per gallon, though it would not sustain the state's needs in the long-term. Republican leaders such as Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have said, though the 10 cents would raise an additional $330 million, it's not enough.

The gas tax in Wisconsin currently sits at 32.9, and raising it a dime would cost the average Wisconsin driver around $54 according to their estimates. Those estimates were based on a resident driving 12,000 miles per year, using 545 gallons.

Last week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos along with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that tolling would generate the necessary revenues for infrastructure funding. Fitzgerald told a group at a Wisconsin Counties Association event in Madison last week that he does not see any solution without some sort of tolling.

A new report from the Department of Public Instruction shows that students in the class of 2018 graduated at higher rates than their predecessors. The overall graduation rate, according to DPI, jumped one percentage point from the 2016-2017 school year to 89.6 percent. Four-year graduation rates improved from the year prior for most subgroups of students as well.

But also last week, the University of Wisconsin System announced that it would create a task force to student teacher education enrollments and incentives, and provide recommendations by May 1st.

According to some experts, the state is seeing a decline in students wishing to enter the profession of teaching, which is impacting rural areas to a greater extent. One source opined that a reason students are not entering the profession is because of the debt load for obtaining a degree versus the pay for teachers.

The legislature in 2016 loosened restrictions to allow educators to teach subjects for which they were not credentialed. It also allowed for additional ways to receive alternate certification.

A deer on a hunting ranch in Forest County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the state's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The deer was born on a breeding farm in Marinette County and was transported to the Forest County ranch in 2014. Both the ranch and farm have been put into quarantine by DATCP since June after another deer tested positive for the disease.

DATCP is working with the ranch and farm owner to determine what, if any, changes are needed to their existing property and herd, and to prevent any further spread of the disease.

According to the IRS, the average tax refund has dropped 8.4 percent in the first week of the 2019 filing season, compared to the same period of time for the 2018 filing season. The average return from the federal government is at $1,865, down from $2,034.

Pundits and experts are keeping a close eye on tax returns and data coming from the IRS this year because 2018 is the first full year in which the "Trump tax reform" bills took effect for American citizens. Proponents of the tax plan say that tax returns are lower because Americans are seeing more on their monthly paychecks, and the government is taking less overall. Opponents of the plan said tax returns down because more money are going to higher income earners.

The number of individual tax returns that were filed with and processed by the IRS also dropped by 12.4 percent and 25.8 percent.

Governor Tony Evers announced today that he plans to enter Wisconsin into the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is a coalition of bipartisan governors who commit to implementing the Paris climate accord on the state level in order to combat climate change, according to Evers' office.

The alliance itself was started in 2017 in response to President Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

States that enter into the alliance pledge to implement policies that advance the goals of the agreement by aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025. States also track and report progress to the global community "in appropriate settings, including when the world convenes to take stock of the Paris agreement." States also look to "accelerate new and existing policies to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy deployment at the state and federal level."

In his statement, Governor Evers said "it's a new day in Wisconsin and it's time to lead oru state in a new direction where we embrace science, where we discuss the very real implications of climate change, where we work to find solutions, and where we invest in renewable energy."


  After the bizarre roller coaster ride last week regarding Foxconn's future in Wisconsin, are you confident they will fulfill their commitment to building their manufacturing site and creating 13,000 jobs in the state?  
I doubt it'll be 13000 jobs - I think it would be better to give that 3 billion to 13000 small WI businesses and see how many jobs that would produce!

Won't happen. This company has a reputation for doing exactly what is happening in Wisconsin. No one should be surprised. I hope the local cities will survive this.

That technology change do fast...

It seems that their business ethics are a little bit questionable

Yes I think they will offer the jobs, but will they keep Wisconsin water clean? That's important too.

middle, we have a shortage of skilled workers now, how will foxconn motivate the next generation to work

Just hope politics does not change it

They've let too manyof their promises pass without action. I'll believe it when I see it.

I would say this will not happen over night but in the future

From what I have read the contract protected the state in some ways

Waiting to see what happens. I think Wisconsin, as a state, has rolled out the red carpet. Now it's time for FoxConn to commit. I've dealt with FoxConn's products in the past when I worked in IT and they left much to be desired. If they put out such a poor product, I wonder about the true character of their leadership.

The Chinese have kept the target moving since day one.

Governor Evers' transportation secretary Craig Thompson hinted at his support for raising the gas tax. Do you support a gas tax increase as a long-term funding solution for Wisconsin's roads?
roads got to be fixed and we have to pay for it. The longer we wait the more it'll cost
Gas prices go up and down 20-50-80 cents in a blink of an eye each month. Just raise the damn gas tax and fix the roads.
I hate to say it but it but out roads are bad and the gas tax seems like the fairest way to fund them
Infastructure neeeds to be fixed and updated. Gas taxes should be raised or lowered incrementally like they werein the past. I don't think borrowing or kicking the can down the road will work. It will just cost more in the future!!
I don't like raising taxes but is there a better option to improve our roads?
Use that big state budget surplus that is supposed to be coming for the roads. No more than 5 cents gas tax increase. No more expensive roundabouts! Find a way to prevent bid rigging by the road builders.
I think the gas tax is helpful in funding roads.
do not support as the cost of road construction is not efficient enough, the more money generated the more wasteful spending becomes
Tax hikes will only stop when they have my entire pay check
Gas Tax, Wheel Tax, When will they start a Motor Oil Tax and a Cylinder Tax? I'm just gonna buy an electric vehicle and not be penalized by any of it. I'll use the roads for free Thank You!
I also feel that you have to raise registration fees also as I have looked at other states and our fees are a bargin
If you raise the gas tax, the cost of transportation WILL go up. Everyone will pay more for everything they buy. Trucks pay their fair share of taxes. There's got to be a better way to fund transportation.
I think that the government can trim much more "fat" to operate properly. I think that before Mr. Evers starts pumping UP the tax rates again, he should take the surplus and use that with extreme wisdom FIRST. Then, he should poll the public - including the northern 2/3 of the state - and find out what they're willing to accept for increases.
as opposed to a wheel tax or registration increase
Raise the tax. We need to spend more on our roads. I fill my tank in MN anyway.
No restriction on the tax collected being deverted.
Fix them or finish roads that have been started.

Governor Evers' chief of staff gave a few glimpses into the administration's budget priorities, including K-12, the UW System, and expanding Medicaid. What are your thoughts on these priorities?  

Health Care and Education, seems like important stuff we should pay for

Look, when Gov. Walker "saved money" he did it by cutting the compensation of public workers. They are now second class workers. Is that fair? Is that the kind of employer you want to be, or work for?

Spending more money is not going to help education.

There are children in our state who aren't succeeding. I think smaller class sizes would help, especially in elementary schools. Private schools succeed because of small class sizes.

I support but first find a way to fund the priorities

If the new administration wants to support the ACA why do we need to expand Medicaid. Low income individuals and families get their health insurance subsidized already. Let's expand return to work stop the handouts. One can't go to any business today without tripping on a HelP Wanted sign.

I agree that small schools need more funds and some times are rich because of property values but low in student numbers. Also I feel the UW system throws money away. As for medicaid provide coverage for pre-exit conditions but that would be the limit

Pouring money into the public education system will not get different results

I support K-12 funding.

The UW and all colleges have become cash cows. Time to trim that back and make it lean, mean, and efficient. I do want our K12 System to be better, but I don't think more money is the answer right now. I think better running and better leadership is the answer. Instead of expanding medicaid, I think it's time we start penalizing the incredibly high and ridiculous costs of health care. Last week we had a gentleman share a story about a $3,000 shot for Chemo patients, and in the end they got it for like $85, cash sale. THAT needs to come to an end...

These are all platforms Evers ran on.

We need to find ways to have less people on Medicaid. As far as education, show me where spending and results are directly related.

Our local school boards are out of control.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty released a plan to help reform Wisconsin's K-12 education system and students' performance. Based on what you read, do you think it's a good plan?

Did you watch the Super Bowl? What did you think? Did you like any of the commercials in particular? How about the half time show? 
Bad game, can't stand commercials and half time show has become ridiculous

No... Meh....

The Super Bowl (and the NFL) had the lowest ratings in a decade. The NFL needs the Patriots to close down or the ratings slide will continue through the entire season. No one wanted to see the Pats win, and no one believed the Rams should have even been in the Superbowl. Nice job, NFL.

I hope no corn growers are still supporting Bud and Bud light

It was a snooze fest and the commercials and the half time show were as bad.

Yes, the NFL commercial was great. Half time show was not great, it seems geared toward younger crowd.

Only watched the second half, missed the half time show which sounds like I didn't miss much, and didn't pay attention to the commercials.

Watched the Super Bowl.Bill B. is a great coach.

Everything was fine. People have unrealistic expectations that every year it can be better than the last.

Didn't watch it

Didn't watch and didn't care.

Part of it, commercial are getting to the point what are they advertising. I watch a small part of half time and you call this entertainment?

Wathced the first half, the 1/2 time show. Pretty boring all the way around. I think 99% of the country were Rams fans on Sunday. Too bad they didn't show up for the game.

No,listened to some on the radio

Game was pretty boring. The football banquet commercial was the best. Half time show was fine. Glad they didn't politicize it.

Super Bowl stunk. The ads stunk. The halftime show was horrible. And I didn't watch it because the Packers weren't in it, so there wasn't a point.


It's all about $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

3 hours of my life gone....for that?

All sucked, game an halftime show

Yes. Favorite commercial the breakout football game in the ballroom with the NFL greats!

Bring back the good old marching bands. The halftime show is way overblown

Watched Yes, very poor game and the half time show was trash. If that's the best the NFL can do, they going to have big problems in the future. How about the BUD commercial slamming the corn growers with their Rice Syrup. Start drinking COORS, they use corn syrup. Bottoms up.

Nope, I was working to pay my property taxes.

Never watch.

Case-IH was good!

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-1531  Memo Sexual Contact by Officer (Taylor, Lena ) Sexual contact by a law enforcement officer with a person in his or her custody and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Monday, February 11, 5 pm

LRB-1430  Memo Congratulating Green Bay Packers (Cowles, Rob ) Congratulating the Green Bay Packers on the occasion of their 100th anniversary and declaring August 11, 2019, Green Bay Packers Day.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 13, 4 pm

LRB-1670  Memo Conversion Therapy (Risser, Fred ) Prohibiting conversion therapy.  Deadline: Friday, February 15, 5 pm

LRB-1584  Memo Youth Apprenticeship Program (Jacque, Andre ) Requiring certain occupational areas to be included in the youth apprenticeship program. Deadline: Tuesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-1297  Memo Sale Tax Liability (Loudenbeck, Amy) The disclosure of a retailer's sales tax liability to a successor.  Deadline: Thursday, February 14, 5 pm

LRB-1250  Memo School Barricade Devices (Stroebel, Duey ) Installation of a barricade device on an interior door in a school building.  Deadline: Friday, February 15, 5 pm

LRB-1641  Memo Ballot Display (Brooks, Rob ) Allowing an elector to show his or her marked ballot.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 13, 5 pm

LRB-1459  Memo Shelter Admission (Loudenbeck, Amy) A minor contracting for admission to a shelter facility or transitional living program.  Deadline: Thursday, February 14

LRB-1609  Memo Pupil Records (Born, Mark ) Pupil records.  Deadline: Friday, February 15, 5 pm

LRB-1170  Memo Election Cost Reimbursement (Jacque, Andre ) Aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs and making an appropriation.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 20, 5 pm

LRB-1158  Memo Jail Contraband (Jacque, Andre ) Bringing contraband into a jail or prison and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 20, 5 pm

LRB-1444  Memo Congratulating Milwaukee Brewers (Jacque, Andre ) Congratulating the Milwaukee Brewers on their 2018 season.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 20, 5 pm
LRB-1599  Memo Speech and Debate Education Day (Shilling, Jennifer ) Recognizing March 1, 2019, as National Speech and Debate Education Day in Wisconsin.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 13

LRB-1471  Memo Drug Costs (Myers, Lakeshia ) Manufacturer and insurer disclosure of prescription drug costs.  Deadline: Thursday, February 21, 4 pm

LRB-0318  Memo Military Income Tax Exemption (Jacque, Andre ) Creating an individual income tax exemption for military income receives by certain members of the U.S. armed for forces and sunsetting the armed forces member tax credit.  Deadline: Thursday, February 21, 5 pm

LRB-1338  Memo Notice of Claim (Tusler, Ron ) Service of notice of claim against state officer, employee, or agent.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, Noon

LRB-1339  Memo Service of Pleadings (Tusler, Ron ) Service of certain pleadings and other papers by electronic mail.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, Noon

LRB-1376  Memo Teacher Loans (Loudenbeck, Amy) The minority teacher loan program.  Deadline: Monday, February 18, 5 pm

LRB-1700  Memo Military Firearm Discharge (Stafsholt, Rob ) Local regulation of honorary military firearm discharges.  Deadline: Wednesday, February 20, Noon

LRB-1212  Memo School Lunch Requirements (Tauchen, Gary ) Imposing requirements related to school lunch and breakfast programs in certain schools. Deadline: Thursday, February 28, 5 pm

LRB-0808  Memo Superior Expo District (Bewley, Janet ) The creation of a local exposition district by the City of Superior.  Deadline: Thursday, February 21

LRB-1152  Memo Bill Passage Prohibition (Spreitzer, Mark ) Prohibiting the assembly and senate from passing certain bills following a general election (first consideration),  Deadline: Monday, February 18, 5 pm

LRB-1811  Memo Black History Month (Taylor, Lena ) Proclaiming February 2019 as Black History Month.  Deadline: Monday, February 11, 5 pm

LRB-1127  Memo Child Pornography (Jacque, Andre ) Possession of child pornography and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, 5 pm

LRB-0175  Memo Autocycles (Jacque, Andre ) Registration and operation of vehicles defined as autocycles.  Deadline: Friday, February 22, 5 pm

LRB-1404  Memo Voter Registration (Smith, Jeff ) Automatic voter registration, deceptive election practices, voter intimidation and suppression, voter rights, polling place posting and language requirements, election manual requirements, granting rule-making authority, and providing a penalty.  Deadline: Monday, February 25, 5 pm