FEBRUARY 24, 2020
By: John Jacobson, Government & Member Relations Director
Once legislative Republicans released their tax plan, I started getting calls from WPT members, a few lawmakers' offices, and even a member of the media, asking me if the organization would support Governor Evers' plan or the GOP plan. In these politically divisive times, the logic goes; if you find merit in one of the plans, you are not allowed to find merit in the other plan.

I'm here to tell you that this kind of logic is baloney.

Let's briefly recap of what this surplus is, and the two plans.

Wisconsin has a little over $800 million extra in this budget. Why? Because Foxconn didn't create the jobs they promised, so your tax dollars didn't have to pay the Chinese corporation anything this budget, thus we have extra money in the bank.

State law says that half of that surplus must be deposited into the rainy day fund. For all of the members who reply to our weekly survey that we need to put the money away: state law already requires that.

Now, we're left with $400 million smackaroos to spend -- because in Wisconsin, no matter what banner you fly or which party you vote for, if there's extra money in the bank, Wisconsin governments like to spend. We don't like to save. Some people will tout our "rainy day fund" as being historically high. That's true, and the GOP-controlled legislature is to thank for growing that fund. But it's still not great compared to other states. Wisconsin has enough money to fund about a week of government spending. States like Wyoming have enough to fund a year of their operations without raising taxes or cutting services. Whether or not we should be cutting spending and government programs is another discussion. But for the record, I always like the idea of reducing the scope and bloat of government.

Back to the two plans in Wisconsin...

Governor Evers would like to spend $250 million to finally achieve the state's commitment to two-thirds funding for K-12 schools. He does that by using $130 million of the $250 million to put into the state's equalization aid formula. That's the fancy term for "buying down property taxes." Essentially, his plan would have reduced local taxes (property) by spending state tax dollars (income, sales, corporate tax).

The Republican plan slashes income taxes by roughly $100 per person, fills a loophole in the Personal Property Tax (PPT) exemption on Schedule C to the tune of $44 million, and pays off $100 million in debt. Our state has about $47 billion in debt. Here's the real-time debt clock for Wisconsin. Check it out, and make sure you have a brown paper bag nearby to breathe in to while you think of your great great grandchildren still paying this off while driving on crumbling roads.

So where does WPT stand? Well, it's really difficult. You have each received our agenda, and our members essentially tell us what we should work on each year. Every year the Personal Property Tax repeal, as well as achieving two-thirds funding for K-12 schools (as a means to lower property taxes) are the two top items on our legislative agenda.

My answer is: We like both plans. We registered with the Wisconsin Ethics Commission in favor of the GOP plan and registered in favor at the public hearing because we know that Evers' plan will not receive a vote. We also have a massive small business membership that suffers through the Personal Property Tax (PPT) each year. Believe me, I wouldn't schedule and sit through over one hundred PPT repeal meetings with lawmakers each session if it wasn't important to you. The GOP plan gives the money back to taxpayers directly. Evers' plan cannot say the same. Income tax cuts are also great because they can spur economic activity when taxpayers have less cash withheld from their paychecks each month. Imagine that.

But we are the Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, Incorporated. We are not the Wisconsin Income Taxpayers, Incorporated. We are not Public Schools Advocates, Incorporated, either. We do not admit merit to Evers' plans because we are trying to be cheer leaders for government-run schools. We admit merit to Evers' plan simply because the most effective way to shift the ever-rising cost of running public schools and paying for lifetime pensions and health care for teachers and administrators is to shift to more equitable state funding and not increasing taxes on local property owners.

So, which plan is best? Since WPT is nonpartisan, we have no reservation saying that both plans are good. For now, the GOP plan is on Governor Evers' desk, and I would expect he vetoes the plan, leaving the money in the state's account until the next budget showdown begins early next year.
Last week Thursday, the State Assembly concluded its legislative business for calendar year 2020. The State Senate is expected to meet one last time in the month of March before adjourning its session. That means the Senate can act on anything the Assembly has already passed, but cannot make any changes to those bills.

The biggest item yet to be voted on is the GOP's plan to help the state's farmers. The legislation would put more funding into suicide prevention programs, authorize three-year refundable property tax relief through an income tax cut, and allow farmers to write-off their health care premiums. The legislation overwhelmingly passed the Assembly last week and will likely see the same result in the Senate.

Also on deck is the 4:00AM bar time legislation that would permit bars to stay open until 4:00AM during the Democrat National Convention, which is slated to take place in Milwaukee in mid-July. The legislation has drawn both praise and ire, with many advocating for small businesses to make more money, while some express concerns over public safety.

Bills that would reduce prescription drug costs by increasing oversight on pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), mandate cursive writing in K-12 schools, require the holocaust be taught in schools, increase PFAS contamination mitigation efforts, ban mislabeling of milk and meat, and provide more funding for combating homelessness are also still in the works.
Republicans in the State Assembly last week tried and failed to override a budget veto from Governor Tony Evers, which would have required the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to spend an additional $1 million in grants for fabrication laboratories, or fab labs.

"I am vetoing this section because I object to the legislature limiting the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation's authority," Evers wrote in his veto message last summer. "The fabrications laboratories program has been an innovative effort to expand the educational experiences of public school children across the state, but this is a policy more appropriately administered with other educational grant programs. If the corporation wishes to make such an allocation it can choose to do so on its own volition."

Fabrication laboratories are high tech labs used in high schools and colleges that teach students about advanced manufacturing, 3D printing, and other skills applicable to the current job market.

To override a gubernatorial veto, the Assembly would have needed to muster 66 votes. The veto override failed on party line votes, with all 63 Republicans voting in favor of overriding, and all 36 Democrat members voting against.
Republican State Senator Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) announced today that he will not seek re-election in November, and will retire at the end of this year. Senator Olsen was first elected to the State Senate in 2004, after serving in the Assembly for a decade.

"For the last 26 years, I have walked into the Capitol building and admired its beauty and history and reflected on the responsibility I have as an elected official. It has been an honor to serve in the state legislature, but there comes a time in life when it's time to move on," Senator Olsen said. "Throughout my career, I have tried to be thoughtful, compassionate, and reasonable and have looked for long-term solutions to problems, rather than relying on quick fixes."

You can read Senator Olsen's entire statement here.

State Representative Deb Kolste (D-Janesville) also announced last week that she would not be seeking re-election. Kolste was first elected to the State Assembly in 2013.

"To say that serving as your state representative for the last eight years has been an honor and a privilege would be a huge understatement," Kolste said. "The relationships with my family, friends and community have informed my beliefs and hope that is what has been represented in the work I have done in the Capitol."

You can read Representative Kolste's statement here.
Gov. Tony Evers today announced that he has selected Brig. Gen. Paul Knap as the next Adjutant General of the Wisconsin National Guard. Brig. Gen. Knapp will serve a 5-year term as the head of the Wisconsin National Guard and the Department of Military Affairs. Concurrent with his appointment as Adjutant General, Knapp will be promoted to the rank of Major General.

"Brig. Gen. Knapp is a dynamic, proven leader who has selflessly served our nation during his 28-year military career," Gov. Evers said. "His strong leadership and dedication to the State of Wisconsin are a perfect fit for the Wisconsin National Guard during this time of transition."
Governor Evers announced last week that he granted pardons to 17 more individuals following the consideration of recommendations made by the Governor's Pardon Advisory Board after their hearings on December and February.

"I believe in second chances. Each of these individuals has earned a pardon by paying their debt to society, making amends, and contributing to their communities," said Governor Evers. "Many of the individuals I pardoned were seeking pardons to advance their careers or better serve their communities, and I wish them the best in these endeavors."

A full list of the pardons can be viewed here.
The Wisconsin GOP's newly-opened field office near MLK Drive and North Avenue in Milwaukee was vandalized last Tuesday evening, according to the state party.

Black paint was splashed across the building which features Trump-Pence signs in the window, with the word "SCUM" painted on the back door.

The Wisconsin GOP, in a tweet, wrote: "Our new field office in Milwaukee was vandalized last night. This won't change our commitment to reaching voters in the community. What kind of intolerance can we expect to see when Democrats bring their convention to Milwaukee this summer?"

When asked about the vandalism, the Democrat Party of Milwaukee County Chairman, Chris Walton, did not condemn the actions, but instead questioned Republicans' motives. "It's quite interesting, especially now, considering President Trump, that the party would want to open up an office now, after they've done everything they can to stoke so much division."

The state Democrat Party responded to the vandalism; "Unlike the Republican Party, we unequivocally condemn actions like this, regardless of who is targeted."

A Wisconsin GOP spokesperson said the Milwaukee Police are investigating, and that there were plenty of cameras being used on the night of the attack.
By clicking the link, you acknowledge that 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, but does not take responsibility for the individual views and opinions expressed herein. It is the right of WPT to remove responses that what the organization deems to be vulgar, hateful, or inflammatory language.
If you are a lawmaker, and have to choose a plan for the surplus, which do you choose? (Based upon current circumstances)
lets pay down our dept instead of kicking the can to our children

Place 25% in the rainy day fund,25% to transportation, 25% to schools, 25% paying down debt

I like the idea of paying down debt and giving out tax relief. We need to fix the school funding formula before we starting putting more money into it. We have some schools that don't get anywhere near what they need and some trying to spend what they get so they can continue to get more than they need.

Put it into thirds, one third for schools, one third for property tax relief and one third for state debt.

This money that has been overpayed by the tax payers in a budget that was approved by the gov't elected by the people of the state, they should reap the benefits, and my choice gives a little back in their pockets, pays down the state debt

My first thought, when I saw the huge surplus, was now we can pay down debt.

Lower property tax, fix roads, reserve some surplus for future.

I would appy a small portion of school districts, some to repair of our roads and bridges ad balance to pay down debt

Fix our roads, spend more money on education (NOT SPORTS PROGRAMS)

paying down debt should be a priority - education gets plenty of funding if it was managed better

If other all to prop tax relief

While a refund that almost matches my property tax increase would be nice I think the money could be used more wisely elsewhere. Have you driven on our roads, it's time to put more to counties and townships for improving them. I know this was lowered in the budget but making a nonbudgeted increase that can't be manipulated by the Governor would be an immense help. Pay down debt with some and bank the rest in a rainy day fund.

Put in rainy-day fund

Pay off more debt.

Fix our Horrible Roads!

Use it all to pay down debt, just as smart business owners do when their business is booming
Now that the wedding barn issue has been removed from the legislation to allow for longer bar times during the DNC, what do you think?
nothing good happens after midnight

Why on earth does the DNC think they should get special rules or wedding barns.

People don't need 2 more hours to get drunk.

If you can't get drunk by 2 am, you weren't drinking enough or the right stuff

No reason for a 4am bar time, really, what's with this stinkin' society

Why do the bars need to stay open until 4a.m.? I don't get it....

Do we ready need a bunch drunks running around

we really need drunk politicians out til 4am?

Stupid 4am asking for trouble

Don't need another two hours of drinking time.

Dems should not be allowed in a bar at any time

Why should bars far away from the Dims convention be open till 4AM?

Let them have some fun.

Why do they need extra hours to get drunk, they should be in bed resting so they can spread more B.S. the next day.


I dont understand what the wedding barn issue has to do with bar times for the DNC?

We do not need more bar time ,nothing good happens after midnight anyways
Kohl's is cutting 250 jobs after its sales dropped 0.2% during the holidays. Do you shop at Kohl's?
I don't care to shop but when forced to I like Kohls

We frequent the brick and mortar stores quite often.

Yes its nice to have a store left where you can still go and try on clothing and physically see what you are buying instead of on-line.

Probably once or twice a year

I would have shopped the brick and mortar store close to me, but they did not have what I wanted in store, I had to order it online and even though its a Wisconsin company, it had to come from North or South Carolina, yeah, someone not doing a very good job at "their job" hopefully these are the people losing their jobs, as they should

I shop there sometimes, but it isn't a favorite of mine.

on line sales will dominate the future, its all about the money , jack up Min Wage and see the job losses and automation take over, self check out is already common

It's one of the only places to shop in Fond du Lac

Not often though

Probably a dozen times a year. And yes, one of the few brick and mortar stores.

Yes my wife shops at Kohls

Its a good store, they usually cut after the holidays.

I hate wal-mart, and Kohls is my only other viable option. I don't like it but there isn't enough other competition for what they carry. We need more SMALL VENDORS for things.


I shop there because they have some creative ways to give me price breaks.


Love Kohls.

Christmas time only
After reading the article: What do you think of a plan that would allow some choice students to participate in public school sports?
As long as they are doing it in the district that they are paying property taxes in. Inside the district they reside.

I support choice students playing sports at public schools as long as they pay the full fees and can demonstrate that they are on grade level with the school work.

I support it, but only if they participate in their school district. Otherwise, we will only enhance the problem of kids moving from school to school just for the sports.

The must play in the district their parents are either paying property taxes in, or renting within the district. They are already financially supporting these programs through their tax dollars, what's the problem WIAA? They should actually be able to choose a private school within their locale as well, why not? Lets be fair across the board if we are going to have this discussion. The one comment about only "troubled" children are home schooled is disturbing and the person should not be education at all.

There are many kids that homeschool or do charter school that are athletes and would like to do a sport (such as football) that isn't offered by homeschool organizations.

virtual school will become the norm, cost of traditional school is to high with out results

I can smell the red-shirting from here...the looser rules will be abused to a coaches advantage.

I do not think this should not be a problem, but some times I think sports are though more of then a good education

This get the home school out to socialize with other children.

let's just put it like this.... who gives a crap if they are home schooled or not? You should STILL have the opportunity to participate in the local band, choir, and sports, if you live in that district. To do otherwise is elitist exclusion

they should have an opportunity to play sports - that's part of what taxes are for

Logical to let kids participate

I support it if the student is paying the same portion of costs as any other student.

Need to know details.

Home School Kids and online school kids-OK. Choice school kids have their own school teams.

I disagree about behaviour issues. A little competition good for everyone
On the topic of high school sports...Did you play high school sports? If, which? Which other extra-curricular activities did you participate in? Do you still go watch your kids or grandkids play sports? Which teams?
I was never in any sports in all my years in school but I do attend sports activities that my grandchildren participate in.

No to sports, yes to FFA and related,

My children played sports and were in 4H and FFA.

Drama, band, choir, FFA, 4-H, arts, academic competitions. Watch Amery School sports teams.

Football, track. Was active in many extra-curricular activities, they made high school a blast. I made many more friends being involved in things, I tend to do the same as an adult, it makes life interesting! Enjoy watching the local kids games, the conference actually gives free passes to those 55 or older for all conference games, nice gesture.

No high school sports. Ball sports, any of them, held no interest for me. Want to go boating, snowmobiling, any motorsports racing, count me in! And yes, we watch the grandkids soccer, and their Band!

In my day there were no sports for girls. We had to stand on the sidelines and cheer. Today, there is to much emphasis put on high school sports. The best sports are not run by the schools who favor certain students.

I was not in sports. I go to grand children's baseball and soccer games when I can.

I did play high schools and watch my grand children also lay

No Title VIII when I went to high school. Joined clubs. Did go when we lived in IL.

I never played sports and only watch when the Green Packers score the end.

I'm sick of sports being so much focus, and academics not being focused on enough. I'm sick of seeing kids pushed through grades when they are failing. I'm sick of seeing the sports starters getting away with drugs, alcohol, sex, etc, and having zero repercussions for it. I'm sick of these horrible failures of CHARACTER that we teach our kids in schools in these areas.

did lots of sports, loved that my kids got to play as well. teaches a lot

Yes. Football and wrestling and did watch kids play collectively about 9 different sports

Yes, was a cheerleader, gymnast, trackster and volleyball . Yes we go watch the grandkids in hockey and baseball .

Football, wrestling, baseball, FFA

No sports.

Played football and basketball.Also on student council and other activities.Try to get to some grandkids football and basketball games,choir concerts etc.

Played in the 1979 Wisconsin state Basketball tournament. Played Big 10 football. Lots of fun watching my kids play high school and college sports.

wrestling and football and watch the grandkids
AB-611  Aircraft Liens (Tittl, Paul) Liens on aircraft and aircraft engines. Signed ( Act 103 )
No bills to report.
LRB-5228   Memo  Marijuana Possession (Sortwell, Shae) Possession of not more than 10 grams of marijuana and providing a penalty. Deadline: Monday, February 24, 5 pm

LRB-5594   Memo  Expectant Mother Legal Representation (Taylor, Chris) Legal representation for an adult expectant mother of an unborn child who is alleged to be in need of protection or services. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, Noon

LRB-5302   Memo  Maternity Coverage (Vining, Robyn) Coverage of maternity and newborn care and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, Noon

LRB-5592   Memo  Rights of Pregnant Women (Zamarrippa, JoCasta) The rights of pregnant women. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, Noon

LRB-3801   Memo  Esports (McGuire, Tip) Grants for participation in esports competitions and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 20, Noon

LRB-5729   Memo  Nigerian Christians (Steffen, David) Calling for action to protect Christians in Nigeria. Deadline: Tuesday, February 18, 3 pm

LRB-4565   Memo  Wrongfully Imprisoned (Risser, Fred) Claims by and treatment of wrongfully imprisoned persons and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, February 21, 5 pm

LRB-5706   Memo  Dental Telehealth (Loudenbeck, Amy) Using telehealth in the practice of dentistry and dental hygiene and granting rule-making authority. Deadline: Friday, February 21, Noon

LRB-4975   Memo  Credit Unions (Kooyenga, Dale) Authorized activities and operations of credit unions, automated teller machines of financial institutions, and repealing rules promulgated by the Department of Financial Institutions. Deadline: Friday, February 21

LRB-5753   Memo  Hmong Deportation (Stuck, Amanda) Opposing efforts by the State Department and Trump Administration to allow for the deportation of Hmong and Lao U.S. residents to the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-3890   Memo  Petroleum Products (Shankland, Katrina) Petroleum products, storage of dangerous substances, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-5159   Memo  Ranked-Choice Voting (Subeck, Lisa) Ranked-choice voting for local nonpartisan elections, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 20, Noon

LRB-5753   Memo  Hmong Deportation (Stuck, Amanda) Opposing efforts by the State Department and Trump Administration to allow for the deportation of Hmong and Lao U.S. residents to the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-3890   Memo  Petroleum Products (Shankland, Katrina) Petroleum products, storage of dangerous substances, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-5455   Memo  MA Eligibility (Stuck, Amanda) Foster parent eligibility for Medical Assistance program under BadgerCare Plus. Deadline: Wednesday, February 19, 5 pm

LRB-5159   Memo  Ranked-Choice Voting (Subeck, Lisa) Ranked-choice voting for local nonpartisan elections, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 20, Noon

LRB-5721   Memo  UW Student Accommodations (Thiesfeldt, Jeremy) Reasonable accommodations for University of Wisconsin System and technical college students who are victims of sexual violence and harassment, Deadline: Friday, February 21

LRB-5515   Memo  Term Limit Amendment (Stroebel, Duey) Applying to Congress under the provisions of Article V of the Constitution of the United States for a convention to propose an amendment establishing term limits for members of the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate. Deadline: Friday, February 21, 4 pm

LRB-1587   Memo  Wisconsin Shares (Shankland, Katrina) Child care provider rates under Wisconsin Shares, funding for Wisconsin Shares child care subsidies, and making an appropriation. Deadline: Thursday, February 20, Noon

LRB-5488   Memo  TAD Grants (Goyke, Evan) Providing grants to certain county or tribal treatment alternatives and diversion programs and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, February 26, 5 pm

LRB-5769   Memo  Groundwater Coordinating Council (Shankland, Katrina) Groundwater Coordinating Council activities funding and making an appropriation. Deadline: Friday, February 21, 4 pm

LRB-0215   Memo  Use of Force (Taylor, Chris) Law enforcement agency policies on the use of force. Deadline: Wednesday, February 26, Noon

LRB-0212   Memo  Use of Force Training (Taylor, Chris) Law enforcement training on use-of-force options and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, February 26, Noon

LRB-0239   Memo  Use of Force Policy Access (Taylor, Chris) Public access to policies regarding the use of force by law enforcement. Deadline: Wednesday, February 26, Noon

LRB-0190   Memo  Use of Force Reporting (Taylor, Chris) Reporting of law enforcement use of force incidents and making an appropriation. Deadline: Wednesday, February 26, Noon

LRB-5660   Memo  Record Expungement (Goyke, Evan) Expungement of criminal court records. Deadline: Friday, February 28, 5 pm