Everything you need to know for the week ahead.
MAY 13, 2019
In its first executive session on Thursday, the state's budget committee voted to remove all policy items that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau deemed non-fiscal, including many of Governor Tony Evers' top priorities.

The most contentious item was the removal of a provision allowing the state's acceptance of federal Medicaid dollars, which Democrats on the committee fiercely opposed through the hearing. Supporters of expanding the program filled the Joint Finance committee room in the State Capitol, with a number of outbursts that resulted in their removal from the proceedings.

Among the list of non-fiscal policy items, which were outlined in a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the committee voted to remove about 131 items that have grabbed headlines since Evers' introduced his budget. Those items included the repeal of the minimum markup of motor vehicle fuel, automatic voter registration, increases to capital gains taxes and manufacturing income taxes, federal medicaid expansion, all medical marijuana provisions, non-partisan redistricting changes, automatic annual increases to property taxes, various changes to voucher schools, re-implementing prevailing wage, and the repeal of Wisconsin's right-to-work law- among others.

The committee also voted to reject Evers' plan to increase cash payments to local governments by 2% annually, instead opting to keep funding levels the same.

A report released from the state's nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau last week uncovered that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation gave businesses around $500,000 to companies that cut jobs in Wisconsin and created jobs in other states.

The audit also revealed that WEDC did not recover around $4 million in loans for which job creators failed to meet certain hiring terms with the state.

In the last audit report, the Legislative Audit Bureau identified several aspects for improvement of WEDC's administering. The audit found that WEDC "had complied with most of LAB's recommendations related to program administration."

Co-Chair of the legislature's Joint Audit Committee, Representative Samantha Kerkman said WEDC's improvements after the last audit was "great news."

"WEDC is a powerful tool in Wisconsin's efforts to retain and attract employers it shows in our unemployment rate- down to 2.9%- and our economic growth," Kerkman said in a joint statement.

But with regards to tax dollars being spent out of state, Co-Chair Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) said the news was "disappointing."

"The inability of WEDC to comply with the state statutes and guidelines has put taxpayer funds at risk. This isn't just an issue of unaccountably, but shows the desired outcomes of these programs have not been consistently achieved," he said.

A bill being circulated by Republican State Senator Andre Jacque and Republican State Representative Cody Horlacher would exempt from income taxes cash tips.

The legislation would allow employees to keep those tips unreported on their income tax filings. One co-author of the bill said that for the most part, cash tips already go unreported on income tax returns, but this would allow "one less fiscal constraint for low income workers."

He also said that the legislation would allow those families to spend more money in their local communities and have more money in their pocket to support their families.

The Legislative Audit Committee released a report last week showing that the University of Wisconsin system's in-state student enrollment has "dropped sharply" over the past nine years.

The audit said the decline could be due to the UW System's recent efforts to get students to their graduations faster, and "declining regional populations," though the sharp decline in in-state students has been supplemented by non-resident tuition. Non-resident tuition is markedly higher, so the system has seen an influx in revenues over the past nine years, according to the report.

Total tuition revenue grew by more than $335 million in the past nine years, even with a tuition freeze that took effect in the legislative session of 2013-2015. In-state student enrollment in the UW System dropped by nearly 13,000 students between the 2008-2009 school year and the 2017-2018 school year- translating to about 125,000 students, down from about 138,000.

When compared to K-12 graduation rates in Wisconsin, the Department of Public Instruction data shows that about 6% fewer students graduated in 2017 than in 2010, which some believe could demonstrate the reason for a decline in in-state students in the UW System.

Wisconsin saw a five percent increase in tourists' spending in 2018, according to state officials. The total amount of cash doled out through tourism spending jumped to $13.3 billion, with Wisconsin drawing 112 million visitors to the state, a jump of 2 million from 2017.

According to a report, large-scale events helped drive the increase, including the Milwaukee Brewers' 2018 Post Season, the Harley Davidson 115th Anniversary, annual CrossFit Games in Madison, and an influx in golfers visiting Erin Hills thanks to that course hosting the 2017 U.S. Open.

Recreation, lodging, and food and beverage industries saw increases across the board, with lodging spending taking in $3.6 billion.

All of that money also means governments dipped their hands into the pot. The federal government took $1.2 billion in taxes, state government $880 million, and local governments squeezed out $703 million. Tourism in Wisconsin also supported about 200,000 jobs in the state in 2018.

A bill being introduced by Republican lawmakers is aiming to help rural communities across Wisconsin with a shortage of fire and EMS workers, by using tax credits to recruit and retain volunteer workers in those positions.

In many parts of the state, particularly rural communities which are served by volunteer fire and EMS departments, emergency response times are particularly high due to lack of employees and the distance traveled between the communities the departments service.

Senators Patrick Testin and Steve Nass, along with Representatives Jeff Mursau and Treig Pronschinske are combining two bills they authored independently to provide refundable tax credits for new volunteer firefighter and EMS workers, which would increase after five years in order to help retain those volunteers. Another credit would reimburse those individuals for equipment, and any travel costs for training exercises.

The lawmakers believe these credits will reduce some of the hurdles for those interested in joining these departments, and help mitigate response times and volunteer shortages.

A Republican lawmaker in Madison wants to allow individuals to take a photo of or with their marked ballots at polling places if they choose to do so.

The current punishment under state law for showing a marked ballot to another person is up to 3 years and 6 months of imprisonment, a $10,000 fine, or both. Wisconsin is one of 18 other states that prohibits such behavior.

"Not only is the prohibition against displaying a marked ballot an archaic law in the age of social media, it is a clear violation of a voter's free speech rights that are guaranteed by the constitution," Senator David Craig (R-Bend) said in a statement. "The ultimate decision of whether or not to display a ballot should rest with the voters filling them out- not the names printed on them."

But some local officials said there are "consequences" to showing your marked ballot online, with one Brown County official, Clerk Sandy Juno, saying "you have no idea how [showing your ballot online] could be used against you."

She said she feared that if your employer asks for proof that you voted, an individual might get a demotion of they show their employer a marked ballot.

Various court rulings have both upheld and struck down lawsuits challenging bans on sharing marked ballots. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case after New Hampshire's courts found their ban to be unconstitutional.


The Joint Finance Committee has identified a list of non-fiscal policy items that they will remove from Governor Tony Evers' budget in their first meeting on Thursday. After reading the article...   
tired of the gop blocking. more will go next voting cycle.

Each item should be given a legitimate hearing. The state is heading for massive gridlock. Voters chose divided government, which means each side will need to compromise. This will be especially hard for the GOP as they haven't had to do that in 8 years.

Why WOULD (should) non fiscal items BE in the "Budget"... unless directly relatedTO budgetary expenditures?

Evers is trying to slip in some of his BS ideas and get them thru as part of the budget

Good way to get the issues that are most partisan out of the discussion so that we can see if there is any desire by both sides to actually work together to come up with a budget we can all live with.

Budget items and policy items should be separate

Again our liberal Governor thinks he can drive the state in excessive debt

Non fiscal...

Policy items in the budget are seldome good, but all legislatures/governors do it. Remove them as needed.

I think policy and budget items should be debated separatly based on their own merit.

Great idea! The purpose of drafting a budget is to determine where and how much money is spent. It is also for attempting to determine how much money would be collected or needed to balance the budget. If this practice is continued the budget will be nothing more than some information about spending and the majority of the information for "pet projects or pet pieces of legislation certain members of government want to sneak in." Keep the unnecessary things out of the budget.

Governor Evers' administration gave a $5/hour raise to employees at six of Wisconsin's prisons,  but not the rest. What are your thoughts?
The state needs to do what it needs to do. Supply and demand.
Wil the socialist Dims approve of this?
If I were an employee at one of the prisons that did not get the bump in wages, if it were possible, I'd see if I could transfer to one that did. That may be what he is hoping to accomplish, and if it works, then kuddos to him
or maybe that group voted for him.
With the benefit package that prison workers get, their wage is almost irrelevant. They make plenty. No raises.
Maybe a increase in their wage is ok but $5.00 seems like a very large increase
That's an awful big raise and I'm confused why one prison was excluded.
if all state employees wage matters woudl be in the budget it would take upwards of 150 additional pages
Whatever happened to merit based pay raises ?? Not in the public sector
Pay for Performance. Give extra effort-get paid for it. Should never be across the board raise.
Does not seem like the fairest decision.
If the governor wants to court votes among the DOC staff he should have had the fore thought to realize the raise would have been given to all of the members of DOC. Once again it shows the democrats true colors of buying votes!
What were they thinking!
Was the pay the same across all locations? More data please.

What do you think of a plan that would use tax dollars to pay hunters between $750-$1,250 if they kill a deer that tests positive for CWD?  
knock the bounty down. we will have too many idiots trying to profit.

Paying hunters makes no sense. Were they not going to go hunting?

Part of the risk of hunting in WI now. What about refunding their state tags/fees?

It's called an incentive!-Where is the money going to come from? It's about time somebody wants to deal with CWD.

I live in an area where you have hunters who want to do right by the deer herd, and then you have those who are flipping crazy during the deer hunting season, both bow and gun, (that is the reason I no longer bother deer hunting)because no one else should be shooting "their" deer. Have those who abused the ag tags in my area as well, there are some who like to call themselves sports"people", I'd say men but need to be PLC, but they are only in name and work these types of payment programs only to their benefit first.

Too expensive.

I wonder how that dollar amount was arrived at?

If you really care about eradicating CWD, as a hunter I think $150 would be plenty per a kill.

Where is the money coming from. My town roads need fixing but there is no money for that.

nice work if you can get it.

Again to remove our deer herd completely from our state

Instead of paying them, how about free licensing.

Let the Hunters hunt. Open longer season-Turkeys also

too expensive

No opinion.

The bounty seems a bit high, but we must operate on an incentive basis to get the job done.

No where near as expensive as loosing the deer herd and hunting as an economic driver.

Not sure what the answer is but I think we have to address the problem in some way.

Maybe more will get tested. The tests would have to come back before it gets eaten.

I think the state should thoroughly think this program through before implementing it. The program if it works then a great way to try to curb the problem of CWD. But what are the additional costs associated with the program?

This has to be one of the stupidest things Wisconsin has done I have ever seen. Mother nature will take care of this. You harvest deer to eat. We are given so many chances to kill deer and then you want to pay hunters?? What other state is doing this. Come on!!!!

Is the testing not already being done? I'd like to be paid for pulling all the beer cans and plastic bottles out of the water when fishing.

A report from the Brookings Institute found that increases in automation will eventually put about 50% of Wisconsin's jobs at risk. Has automation impacted your industry?
service side here...eyes and hands will never go away!

We are all going to be replaced. Really sad for our children.

What was handwritten has become more automated (e.g. data analytics ).

Nurses and Doctors, NUrsing assistants will never be impacted by this.

Not much yet, but as the cost of automation decreases, it will effect most of us

I own a auto collision center, vehicles are becoming more autonomous, but repair and refinish is not.

The we have that people do not would to work anymore but be supported by the goverment so that way companies are going to automation so the know a machine will be there every day to produce their products

Employees are becoming far too expensive. We need to be careful not to price people out. We need to watch inflation.

Much of the new farm machinery is in the 500,000 to 600,000 range prices the majority of farmers out of the ability to purchase it.

I think our problem is really more tied to the fact that we don't have enough people running their own business doing jobs that automation simply cannot do, and too many working in major factories and relying on companies for their incomes. I think we need MORE small business owners, and MORE independent contractors, especially in fields where we are critically short handed.

my field will continue to grow

Robotic milkers.

Automation also gives more consistant quality, and if maintained well less down time. The job to maintain this new equipment requires higher education and higher sence of acomplishment.

I think agriculture will become more automated.

Not the way we farm. Have a lot of old machinery.

Dairy - milking/feeding robots - yes, it will continue to grow


This week marks the 49th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' "Let It Be" album, which has been named one of the greatest albums of all time by music magazine Rolling Stone. Who is your favorite musician of all time? If you were stranded on an island with only one album (and of course a way to play that album), which album would you choose? Have you seen your favorite musician or band live in concert? Share your music favorites and suggestions here.
Ozzy, Metallica, AC/DC ...No chicken kickin here!

Devo .. Whip it Good.

Sex Pistols - Never Mind the Bollocks. Saw them in Chitcago.

I like all kinds of music, I would OK with anything except rap, hip hop, and not real keen on heavy metal.

I like the Beatles and the Beach Boys from the 1960's.

Luck enough to see many live, from Kiss to Merle Haggard. Gotta go with Merle or The Bellamy Brothers

The Mills Bros. Saw them once at a county fair. Shows how old I am.

hard to say for one band, chose between Ozzy, doors, or queen

Anything from the 80s

The Doors

to many great musicians to just pick one favorite. I enjoy all styles of music and have seen many live performances.

Eagles "Hotel California"

The Beatles or the Beach Boys Albums would be great to listen to if stranded anywhere.

Prefer 70&80s Country Music.

Rickie Lee Jones and Neil Young. I have seen them both live a few times but would like to see them both live one more time. I know I picked two but it was a tie.

Reba Macintire, got to see her once.

The Beatles!

Aerosmith is a favorite but haven't seen them in concert

Never ever been to a concert but Neil Diamond.....

Karen Carpenter - Sadly, she died before I would ever have had the chance to see her in concert

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-0429  Memo Advanced Practice Nurses (LeMahieu, Devin) Advanced practice registered nurses, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing and exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority. Deadline: Friday, May 17

LRB-2440  Memo Underage Sexual Activity (Wanggaard, Van) Underage sexual activity. Deadline: Friday, May 24, 5 pm