Capitol Notes: 2015-2017 Budget Passes State Senate

Capitol Notes
Wisconsin Political and Legislative Update
TO: Tony Langenohl 

FROM: Tony Langenohl 
Capitol Consultants, Inc.
& Wimmer Company, S.C.

DATE:  July 7, 2015

SUBJECT: State Senate Passes 2015-2017 Budget
In This Issue
State Senate Passes the Budget
Sen. Amendment 1-Open Records
Sen. Amendment 2-Prevailing Wage
Democratic Amendments
Legislative Reaction
Walker 2016
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Wisconsin State Senate Passes the 2015-2017 Budget


Tonight the Wisconsin State Senate passed the 2015-2017 Wisconsin State Budget (2015 Senate Bill 21) on an 18-15 vote.  Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) voted with the 14 Democrats against the budget because of what he termed "the excessive amount of policy" in the budget. (Journal Sentinel article on Cowles' vote)

The bill now goes to the State Assembly, which is scheduled to convene on Wednesday at 11:30 am and will adjourn at 11:00 pm on Wednesday night, per an agreement with Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha). 

Upon passage by the State Assembly, the bill will then head to Governor Scott Walker for veto review and his signature.  Over the weekend, Governor Walker told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he "hopes to sign the budget late in the coming week."  Governor Walker is expected to formally announce that he is joining the large list of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for President at an event in Waukesha on Monday, July 13th in Waukesha. 

The budget bill was amended with two amendments one unanimously and one on a slim 17-16 vote.  The first amendment, Senate Amendment 1, undid changes to the states' open records law that were adopted on the last night of Joint Finance Committee action.  The amendment also deleted changes to the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems and to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access System. 

Senate Amendment 2 was adopted on a narrow 17-16 vote, with the repeal of prevailing wage for local government projects the most controversial provision in the motion.  Two Republicans; Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Oshkosh) voted with the Democrats against the motion.  

Senate Democrats offered 44 amendments to the bill, all of which were procedurally tabled on a party-line 19-14 vote.

The Senate which started its work around 3:30 pm, concluded its work at midnight.

Two Fiscal Bureau Papers of Note Released:

At the request of Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) prepared a memo on the non-fiscal policy items that are contained in 2015 AB/SB 21. 

The LFB memo identified over 100 new items added by the Joint Finance Committee, and 18 that the Governor introduced that the Committee removed for separate consideration.  The memo can be found here.


The LFB also released a memo on the condition of the state's general fund for 2015-2017 and 2017-2019 bienniums under the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Finance.  


With the disclaimer that the memo is based on "commitments under current law and the provisions of the Finance Committee's 2015-17 budget recommendations." And noting that  "No assumptions are made regarding revenue modifications in 2017-19 due to such unknowns as future law changes or economic factors. Likewise, no assumptions are made to appropriations regarding changes in caseloads, population estimates, enrollments, employee compensation, or inflation," the memo notes that 2017-2019 budget is projected to end with $490 million structural deficit. 

LFB creates this memo "to provide policymakers with an indication of the beginning point for the budget of the succeeding biennium. It does not project whether the next budget will have a surplus or a deficit (the Constitution requires that the Legislature pass a balanced budget). Rather, the analysis is intended to serve as a guide during current budget deliberations and provide some insight regarding the succeeding budget."

Two items of note as well from the memo:

  • when this same memo was done for the preceding 10 biennia, only 1 biennia (2013-2015) had a positive structural balance.
  • the budget stabilization fund currently has a balance of $280 million.

Return to table of contents


Sen. Amendment 1: Changes to Open Records Provisions and more


Over the weekend Governor Scott Walker, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and the Joint Committee on Finance Co-Chairs John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Alberta Darling (R-River Falls) announced that they were going to remove the provisions adopted during the Joint Finance Committee action on the budget in the #999 Motion related to the state's open records law. 

They released the following statement on Saturday:

"After substantive discussion over the last day, we have agreed that the provisions relating to any changes in the state's open records law will be removed from the budget in its entirety. We are steadfastly committed to open and accountable government. The intended policy goal of these changes was to provide a reasonable solution to protect constituents' privacy and to encourage a deliberative process between elected officials and their staff in developing policy. It was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way. 

In order to allow for further debate on this issue outside of budget process, the Legislature will form a Legislative Council committee to more appropriately study it and allow for public discussion and input." - Link to release 

Senate Amendment 1, which was adopted unanimously by the State Senate (33-0), deleted the proposed changes to the state's open records law, as well as changes to the membership of the Joint Survey Committee on Retirements Systems and changes to information relating to the criminal cases that are publicly available on the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Internet site.

Specifically the amendment does the following (excerpted from the Legislative Fiscal Bureaumemo on the amendment):

  • Public Records: Deletes the provision of the substitute amendment which would have provided that the records and correspondence of any officer of the Legislature, any legislative employee, and of any legislative service agency would not be considered public records for purposes of public records preservation by the Public Records Board.
  • Legislator Disclosure Privileges:   Deletes all provisions of the substitute amendment related to legislator disclosure privileges which would have provided that: A legislator has a legal privilege or right to refuse to disclose, and to prevent a current or former legislative staff member from disclosing, all of the following communications and related records if made within the course of legislative business during the legislator's term of office: (a) a communication between the legislator or a member of the legislator's personal staff, or another person acting on behalf of the legislator, and a member of the clerk or sergeant staff; (b) a communication between the legislator or a member of the legislator's personal staff, or another person acting on behalf of the legislator, and a member of the nonpartisan staff; (c) a communication between the legislator, or a person acting on behalf of the legislator, and a member of the legislator's personal staff; ( d) a communication between two or more members of the nonpartisan staff or clerk and sergeant staff related to the legislative business of a legislator; ( e) a communication between two or more members of the legislator's personal staff; and (f) a communication between the legislator or a member of the legislator's personal staff, or another person acting on behalf of the legislator, and any other person.
  • Nonpartisan Legislative Service Agencies' Communications.  Deletes the substitute amendment provision which would have provided that the confidentiality requirements imposed on nonpartisan legislative services agencies may not be construed to prohibit any staff member of a nonpartisan legislative service agency from communicating with any staff member of another nonpartisan legislative service agency for the purpose of serving the Legislature and its members or from disclosing any communication, record, or information in accord with a rule, custom, policy, or practice of the Legislature. This provision would have been effective July 1, 2015.
  • Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems.  Deletes the substitute amendment provision which would have modified the composition of the 10 member Committee to include 10 legislators, consisting of five senators and five representatives appointed as are members of standing committees in their respective houses. As a result, current law would be maintained. Currently, the Committee is composed of 10 members as follows: (a) two majority party senators, one minority party senator, two majority party representatives, and one minority party representative, appointed as are the members of standing committees in their respective houses; (b) an assistant attorney general appointed by the Attorney General; ( c) a member of the public who is not a participant in any public retirement system in Wisconsin, to be selected by the Governor; ( d) the Commissioner of Insurance or an experienced actuary in the Commissioner's Office designated by the Commissioner; and ( e) the Secretary of Employee Trust Funds or his or her designee.
  • Delete new CCAP definition and removal of certain information from WCCA.  Deletes the substitute amendment provisions creating statutory language defining the Courts' Consolidated Court Automation programs and specifying that the Director of State Courts must remove from the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Internet site all information relating to a criminal case if all of the following have occurred: (a) all charges have been dismissed by the court prior to trial; (b) all dismissed charges were offenses for which the maximum period of imprisonment was six years or less; ( c) none of the dismissed changes was for a violent offense as defined in s.301.048(2)(bm) of the statutes; ( d) an order having been issued by the court having jurisdiction to remove such information; and ( e) the dismissed charges were filed when the person charged was under the age of 25.




Senate Amendment 2: Prevailing Wage and other changes


Senate Amendment 2 was termed by Majority Leader Fitzgerald the Prevailing Wage and "Technical Amendment."  


Senate Amendment 2 was adopted on a 17-16 vote with Republicans Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and Rick Gudex (R-Oshkosh) voting with the Democrats against the amendment.

The most controversial provision in Senate Amendment 2 was the repeal of the state prevailing wage law that applies to local projects of public works.


#14 Repeal of the state prevailing wage law that applies to local projects of public works.

This provision of the amendment would does the following things:

  • Retain the prohibition against local governmental units enacting or administering their own prevailing wage laws or similar ordinances.
  • Repeal all provisions directing the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to determine prevailing wage rates and redefine "prevailing wage rate" for state projects to instead mean the applicable prevailing wage rate as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor under the federal Davis-Bacon Act.
  • Exempt from the state prevailing wage law laborers, workers, mechanics, or truck drivers that are employed to transport excavated material or mineral aggregate away from or to a project site of public works.
  • Eliminate various statutory provisions with respect to the prevailing wage law for projects other than state highway projects and provide the Department of Administration (DOA) with rule-making authority, including emergency rule authority, to enforce and administer the law other than for state highway projects which are administered by the Department of Transportation (DOT). Eliminate DWD's existing role in enforcing and administering the prevailing wage law and transfer that role to DOA.
  • Specify that DOA promulgate any rules that the Department determines are necessary to implement and ensure compliance with the state's prevailing wage law. Specify that if requested by any person performing prevailing wage work, DOA or DOT (as applicable) inspect the payroll records of any contractor, subcontractor, or agent performing work on a state prevailing wage project to ensure compliance with state law.
  • Eliminate the requirement that state agencies post prevailing wage rates and hours of labor on sites, for projects other than state highway projects.
  • Retain enforcement and oversight of the prevailing wage law on state highway projects by DOT. Move DOT prevailing wage provisions from the purview of the general employment statutes to be under DOT's general highway construction authority.
  • Specify that if a person who is not a DOA employee or the contracting state agency or who is not an employee of DWD that is conducting an investigation contacts an employee performing prevailing wage work for the purpose of investigating compliance with the prevailing wage law, the person shall provide a written statement to the employee stating that the person is not affiliated with DOA, the contracting state agency, or DWD and disclosing the principal source of funding for the investigation.
  • Delete provisions for liquidated damages and debarment in regard to state projects.
  • Specify that these provisions take effect on January 1, 2017, and apply to any request for bids issued on or after that date. If a project is not subject to bidding requirements, the amendment applies to a contract that is entered into on or after that date.

Other provisions of note in Senate Amendment 2 included and excerpted from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo describing the amendment:

  • UW System GPR FundingIncrease the UW System's GPR general program operations appropriation by $25,000,000 in2016-17. In addition, require the UW System to lapse $25,000,000 from its GPR general programoperations appropriation to the state's general fund on July 1, 2016.
  •  Opportunity Schools and Partnership Programs-  Modify Joint Finance provisions to specify that the Commissioner or the MPSSuperintendent could transfer operation and management of a school under their OSPP to a personoperating any type of charter school, rather than limiting eligibility to only a person operating anindependent charter school.
  • Statewide Private School Choice Program Eligibility School-  Modify Joint Finance action to specify that the provision requiring a private school participating in the statewide private school choice program to have been in continual operation as a private school since May 1, 2013, would apply in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years only.
  • Statewide Private School Choice Program- Pupil Lottery- Modify Joint Finance action to specify that each private school participating in the statewideprivate school choice program would be required to report to DPI the number of pupils who haveapplied to attend the school under the choice program beginning in 2016, rather than 2015.Specify that, in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years, if the total number of pupils residingin a district who apply to attend a private school under a choice program does not exceed theschool district's pupil participation limit, DPI would be required to determine which pupils theprivate school could accept on a random basis, rather than each private school randomly selecting pupils.
  • Teacher and Administrator Contract Renewals-  Delete Joint Finance action modifying the date by which a school board must give teachers or administrators, business managers, school principals, and assistant principals, written notice of renewal or refusal to renew the teacher or administrator's contract.
  • Pension Obligation Bonds-Agency Chargebacks-  Modify current law that allows the Secretary of Administration to lapse or transfer moneys from state agencies to pay debt service on pension obligation bonds to also authorize the Secretary to require a direct payment to the general fund in lieu of a lapse or transfer. Modify the current definition of state agency to also include the following entities: (a) the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority; (b) the Wisconsin Health and Educational Facilities Authority; (c) the community development finance authority created before July 1, 1988; (d) the nonprofit corporation with which the Department of Workforce Development contracts under the 1989 statutes; (e) the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority (UWHCA); (t) the Fox River Navigational System Authority; (g) the Wisconsin Aerospace Authority; and (h) the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
  • Shared Services Proposal-Tech College System- Modify the substitute amendment provision requiring that the Department of Administration consult with certain state agencies and develop a plan for assuming responsibility for services relating to human resources, payroll, finance, budgeting, procurement, and information technology, to exclude the Technical College System Board from the list of agencies specified. [The following agencies would remain under consideration for the proposal: Board of Commissioners of Public Lands; Board on Aging and Long-Term Care; Board for People with Developmental Disabilities; Educational Communications Board; Department of Financial Institutions; Government Accountability Board; Higher Educational Aids Board; State Historical Society; Public Service Commission; Department of Safety and Professional Services; Office of the Secretary of State; State Fair Park Board; Department of Tourism; Office of the Governor; Office of the Lieutenant Governor; and Office of the State Treasurer.] 
  • Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Program- Delete the substitute amendment provisions which modify grantee selection criteria under the treatment alternatives and diversion (TAD) grant program.
  • Expungement from DNA Data Bank-  Modify current law in order to allow an individual to request that his or her DNA analysis data be expunged from the DNA databank on that grounds that certain conditions are satisfied.
  • Incorporation of certain towns contiguous to villages-  Modify the substitute amendment provision related to new methods of incorporation for certain towns contiguous to third class cities, to apply to certain towns contiguous to villages meeting the criteria identified below. Towns meeting the criteria could incorporate as a village using the following procedure: (a) the town board must adopt a resolution calling for a referendum in the town on whether the town should become a village; and (b) a majority of the votes cast in the referendum must be in favor of becoming a village.  The provision would apply to the Town of Maine and the Village of Brokaw in MarathonCounty, and could apply to other towns and villages meeting the criteria.
  • Automatic Fire Sprinkler System Contractors and Journeymen Council-  Modify the substitute amendment provison to eliminate certain boards and councils identified as inactive to exclude from elimination the Automatic Fire Sprinkler System Contractors and Journeymen Council. The Council advises the Department of Safety and Professional Services regarding credentialing of automatic fire sprinkler fitters, contractors, and apprentices.
  • High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) Alternative for Local Protective Service Employees-  Modify the substitute amendment provision related to HDHP coverage for local protective service employees to only apply to a first-class city, instead of applying to any local governmental unit. Under the provision, as amended, if a first-class city offers health care insurance to employees who are police officers, fire fighters, or emergency medical technicians, the first class city must also offer to the employees who are police officers, fire fighters, or emergency medical technicians, an HDHP that has identical design features to the HDHP offered to state employees.
  • Retain Local Government Property Insurance Fund-  Delete provisions of the substitute amendment that would prohibit the sale of new policies under the local government property insurance fund, beginning on July 1, 2015, and the renewal of existing policies, beginning on January 1, 2018. Delete other provisions associated with the closeout of the property fund and delete a provision that would require the Insurance Commissioner to adopt policy rates and structure recommended by the local government property insurance fund Advisory Committee at its meeting on April 9, 2015.
  • Modify Department of Revenue Authority to issue a retail alcohol permit-  Delete the substitute amendment provisions that would require DOR to meet certain requirements prior to issuing a retail beer or intoxicating liquor permit to an American Indian tribe in this state that has a reservation encompassing not less than 60,000 acres nor more than 70,000 acres.
  •  Municipal Public Building Plan information and public plan rooms-  Specify that notwithstanding current law provisions relating to charging fees for public documents, if a municipality receives a request for public building plan information from a public plan room, the municipality would be required to provide the requested information by electronic copy, and without charging a fee, if all of the following apply:
  • Local Government Lodging "Room Tax"-  Modify the provision included in substitute amendment by delaying the following by one year: (a) from 2016 to 2017, the year in which the requirement that municipalities could retain the greater or 30% of current year revenues or an annual sliding scale of prior year amounts would first apply; (b) from January 1, 2015, to January 1, 2016, the date on which a municipal contract would have to be in effect in order to exempt revenues needed to fulfill the terms of the contract from the requirement under "a" (the reference to the contract being in effect on the effective date of the bill would be deleted); (c) from January 1, 2015, to January 1, 2016, the date on which a tourism entity that would be eligible to receive room tax revenues would have to be in existence and the allowance that if no such organization exists in a municipality that the municipality may contract with such an organization if one is created in the municipality; ( d) each of the sliding scale of prior year amounts used under "a"; and (e) from 2016 to 2017, the reporting requirements to provide information to the Department of Revenue.
  • Extension of water or sewer service between municipalities- Modify the provision in the substitute amendment authorizing a municipality to request the extension of water or sewer service from another municipality as follows: (a) limit the provision to municipalities in a county bordered by Lake Michigan and the state of Illinois (Kenosha County); (b) delete the provision allowing the decision of the municipality that owns and operates the utility to be appealed to circuit court and instead authorize the appeal to be made to the Public Service Commission (PSC); ( c) authorize the PSC to include in its decision conditions on the extension of service to ensure that costs resulting from the extension be borne by the users causing the cost and that the connection point selected by the municipality requesting the service is reasonable; and ( d) allow either municipality involved in the PSC decision to appeal that decision to the Department of Natural Resources and require the Department to provide a determination within 45 days of receiving the appeal.
  • Property tax exemption for rented personal property- Modify the two current law provisions exempting personal property held for rental for one month or less and for 364 days or less, by deleting the phrase "which is engaged in any business other than personal property rental" and substituting the phrase "and the owner is engaged in the rental of the property subject to the exemption to the other enterprise." Extend this treatment retroactively to property assessed on, or after, January 1, 2014. By deleting this provision, companies that engage in equipment rental and leasing, but also provide ancillary services, would become eligible for the exemption. However, it would not allow companies that own their equipment and pay personal property taxes on their equipment to become eligible for the exemption by creating a subsidiary company that leases or rents this equipment to the parent company.
  • Makes various changes to the duties and power of the Milwaukee County Executive
  • Freeway construction costs related to metropolitan sewerage districts in first class cities-  Add metropolitan sewerage districts including first class cities to the definition of municipal utility facilities, such that the state would pay 90% of the eligible costs of the relocation or replacement of any utility facilities in such districts required by the construction of any freeway undertaken by the Department. Specify that in order for such a district to be eligible for reimbursement for such costs, any entry upon or occupation of any state freeway right-of-way after relocation or replacement of utility facilities by a metropolitan sewer district shall be done in a manner acceptable to the Department. Require that road alterations and traffic control actions taken by a district's commission be done in a manner which is acceptable to the Department. Specify that these changes would first apply to facility utility owners notified by the Department of impending work affecting utility property on January 1, 2016.


Democratic Amendments to the budget


Throughout the course of the debate on the budget, Senate Democrats made several attempts to amend the budget.  Each of their amendments were tabled on a party-line 19-14 vote.

  • Senate Amendment 3- Would require any motion offered during joint committee on finance deliberations on a biennial budget bill must identify the representative to the assembly or senator who requested the motion or must be offered jointly by all of the members of the same political party who serve on the committee.
  • Senate Amendment 4- This amendment would put per pupil school funding at the same levels they were in 2010.
  • Senate Amendment 5- This amendment would apply the same standards and requirements that are applied to public schools are applied to charter schools and private schools receiving state funding.
  • Senate Amendment 6-This amendment would restore the $250 million cut to UW System.
  • Senate Amendment 7- This amendment dealt with policies related to overtime. Was not debated and was returned to the author.
  • Senate Amendment 8- This amendment would delete the provision adopted in Motion 999 that would allow employees to waive the requirement for 1-day of rest in seven.
  • Senate Amendment 9- This amendment includes various entrepreneurial grants and investments in Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
  • Senate Amendment 10- there was a drafting error with this amendment and it was returned to the author.
  • Senate Amendment 11-This amendment would prioritize I-39 project in Rock Co.
  • Senate Amendment 12- This amendment would make changes to the BadgerCare program and require Wisconsin to accept the federal Medicaid Expansion $ under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Senate Amendment 13-This amendment would make changes to IRIS and long-term care provisions included in the budget.
  • Senate Amendment 14-This amendment deals with aids for Special Education.
  • Senate Amendment 15-This amendment deals with changes for Milwaukee Child Welfare.
  • Senate Amendment 16-This amendment deals with issues included in the budget that would "take away" local control, especially in Milwaukee and Dane County.
  • Senate Amendment 17- This amendment deals with changes to environmental programs at the DNR.
  • Senate Amendment 18-This amendment creates a groundwater control regime and adds several non-point pollution requirements.
  • Senate Amendment 19- This amendment restores the cut to the University of Wisconsin Extension program.
  • Senate Amendment 20-This amendment deals with the refinance of student loans to get lower rates.
  • Senate Amendment 21-This amendment creates a private pension board.
  • Senate Amendment 22-This amendment says that a company that receives a WEDC grant and exports jobs, WEDC must recover that grant within 6 months.
  • Senate Amendment 23-This amendment provides $350 million for a renter's property tax credit.
  • Senate Amendment 24-This amendment restores the cuts to the child care tax credit, EITC and homestead tax credits.
  • Senate Amendment 25-This amendment deals with the redistricting process.
  • Senate Amendment 26-This amendment deals with ensuring that Federal funds are not jeopardized by restrictions on the Legislative Audit Bureau.
  • Senate Amendment 27-This amendment would remove the payday lender provision related to allowing them to sell insurance products.
  • Senate Amendment 28-This amendment requires made in America construction materials.
  • Senate Amendment 29-This amendment deals with funding for broadband expansion for rural and underserved areas.
  • Senate Amendment 30-This amendment would restore funding for public broadcasting.
  • Senate Amendment 31-This amendment would deals with voucher schools and funding.
  • Senate Amendment 32-This amendment deals with restoring staffing to guard towers at correctional facilities as well as overtime changes.
  • Senate Amendment 33-This amendment deals with faith-based re-entry programs as part of the Corrections system, as well as other DOC programs to reduce incarceration rates.
  • Senate Amendment 34-This amendment deals with alternate forms of transportation.
  • Senate Amendment 35-This amendment would require the sale of the Governor's Mansion.
  • Senate Amendment 36-This amendment deals with the building program for the UW System.
  • Senate Amendment 37-This amendment would make infrastructure improvements in Waushara County.
  • Senate Amendment 38- This amendment deals with small business growth in rural Wisconsin.
  • Senate Amendment 39-This amendment adds mental health to the list of services available for veterans.
  • Senate Amendment 40-This amendment would make changes for the Challenge Academy at Fort McCoy.
  • Senate Amendment 41-This amendment would provide bonding for the armory in Wisconsin Rapids.
  • Senate Amendment 42-This amendment would release funding for two residence halls at UW Whitewater and UW Eau Claire.
  • Senate Amendment 43-This amendment deals with the lawsuit and the Talgo train company.
  • Senate Amendment 44-This amendment deals with officer involved shootings.
  • Senate Amendment 45-This amendment would restore funding at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point for their innovation program.
  • Senate Amendment 46-This amendment would increase the minimum wage to $10.10 and remove provisions related to changing the terminology from living wage to minimum wage.






Legislative Reaction


Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau)

"Today the Wisconsin Senate advanced a bill that I believe our members can be proud of. While there is no doubt that this was a difficult budget, it was also a responsible one; by making some tough financial decisions, we ensured that the interests of Wisconsin's hardworking taxpayers were protected. We refused to raise sales, income or property taxes. We undertook long awaited, meaningful reforms to Wisconsin's antiquated prevailing wage law which artificially inflated the cost of taxpayer-funded projects to the tune of hundreds of millions annually. 

We looked towards the future by refusing to allow our state's borrowing to swell to unmanageable levels, and made difficult decisions to ensure that we will continue to foster the development of infrastructure-but not at the expense of maxing out the state's credit card. 

Equally importantly, we ensured that we continued to invest in our priorities, fully funding K-12 education in the first year of the biennium and allocating an additional $100 per pupil to our schools in the second year. We reduced the proposed cut to the University of Wisconsin System and created new flexibilities to allow one of our state's greatest institutions to be reactive to this and future financial challenges. 

Throughout this process, we have listened to and implemented the valuable feedback we received from our constituents. We protected the programs that Wisconsin's most vulnerable populations rely on, including SeniorCare, FamilyCare, and the Wisconsin Retirement System. The extensive public input we received played a significant role in shaping the document we approved today. 

I thank and commend all of my Senate colleagues for their hard work and dedication in completing this enormous task." 

Minority Leader Sen. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse)

"Wisconsin is home to almost six million people, but legislative Republicans carefully crafted this budget to benefit one person who just so happens to be running for president. Rather than selling out Wisconsin to advance Gov. Walker's presidential ambitions, we need to work together to lift up all families and move our state forward.

"While parents and families have said they want education to be a top priority for our state, Legislative Republicans continue to cut our schools and waste hundreds of millions on tax breaks for special interests. It's time to put Wisconsin families first, restore the cuts to our schools and invest in the future of our state."

 Sen. Frank Lasee (R-De Pere)

"Senate Republicans are again leading to pass big, bold reforms of government. By including my conservative prevailing wage reform into the state budget today, my colleagues and I ensure that taxpayers will save hundreds of millions of dollars moving forward. It was a long and winding road and we proved today that meaningful and lasting reform is possible.

"I especially thank my colleagues, Majority Leader Fitzgerald and Senators Stroebel and Nass, for their efforts and leadership moving this big win for taxpayers forward. 

"Change is hard and harder still when going against the grain of strong interest groups. I'm proud of my colleagues for fighting for taxpayers and fully expect that we will see the same from the Assembly."  

Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay)

"During my time in the legislature, I have often said that non-fiscal policy items don't belong in

the state budget. These items deserve to be debated on their own and should have public input and discussion as separate legislation.

While I understand that all budgets have some amount of policy, it is always best to keep those

policy items to a minimum. Unfortunately, this budget has an excessive amount of policy in it. 

By my count there are nearly 140 non-fiscal items contained in this budget. All of those items, could, and should, be introduced and debated as separate legislation. For that reason, I could not in good faith vote in favor of this budget."



Walker 2016


Governor Walker's campaign today released a web video in advance of his expected presidential campaign announcement on Monday July 13th.  The ad, entitled Recall the Recall, is a compilation of news clips and headlines from the protests surrounding 2011 Act 10, and the subsequent recall attempt of Governor Walker.  The web ad closes with a silhouette of Governor Walker and next Monday's date.


Walker Campaign: Recall the Recall
Walker Campaign: Recall the Recall

Path forward:

In advance of his announcement, the Washington Post has a pretty lengthy article reporting on the Walker team's path forward in the Republican Primary.  Highlights include:

  • Governor Walker has broader appeal than any other candidate- Campaign Manager Rick Wiley discusses how well Walker performs with the three legs of the Republican Party stool- Tea Party activists, Christian Conservatives and Establishment Republicans.
  • Money- According to the article, Keith Gilkes, former Walker campaign manager believes the SuperPAC that he runs will have raised $40 million by the end of the year.
  • Primary path- The Walker team believes he is well positioned to win Iowa, finish in the top 3 in New Hampshire and South Carolina, and potentially win Nevada.  With 15 Republican Primary candidates, they believe doing well in the four first states will create the momentum necessary to be competitive in the rest of the process.



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