Capitol Notes: Gov. Walker signs 2015-2017 Budget

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Capitol Notes
Wisconsin Political and Legislative Update
TO: Tony Langenohl 

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

DATE:  July 12, 2015

SUBJECT: Governor Walker signs 2015-2017 Budget
TOP
 
 
In This Issue
Gov. Signs State Budget Into Law
2015-2017 State Budget Highlights
The Vetoes
Comparing this budget to past budgets
Republicans who voted against the budget
Walker Presidential Campaign Prepared to Launch
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Governor Signs State Budget into law as Act

 

  

 

Today, Governor Scott Walker signed the 2015-2017 Biennial Budget into law with 104 partial vetoes.  In announcing the vetoes, the Governor said the vetoes will allow the executive branch "to efficiently perform its statutory duites, and corrective legislative errata.  These

vetoes increase the general fund balance by $44,495,400 GPR over the biennium."

   

Below is an excerpt from his message:

  

To the Honorable Members of the Senate: 

 

Senate Bill 21 as 2015 Wisconsin Act 55 is approved and deposited in the office of the
Secretary of State. 

 

Four years ago, Wisconsin faced a $3.6 billion deficit after years of irresponsible
budgeting practices and gimmicks. Our state was on the same unstable and
untenable path as the federal government. Wisconsin's rainy day fund was depleted
and the State had past due bills, including repaying illegal raids of segregated funds.
During the four years before I was elected as Governor, Wisconsin lost over 134,000
jobs and the unemployment rate stood at 8.1 percent. Property taxes had increased
27 percent over the previous decade. 

 

While politicians in Washington continued down the path of excessive spending and
crushing debt for the next generation, we chose a different path by making tough, but
prudent, decisions to regain our financial footing and build the foundation for future
growth. Despite continued poor national economic performance and empty rhetoric
from Washington, we begin the new fiscal year with a balanced budget and without
the accounting gimmicks of the past. In contrast to Washington's soaring debt,
Wisconsin's fiscal house is in order. Because of our responsible budgeting, new
bonding will be at the lowest level in 20 years. Moody's upgraded our outlook from
"stable" to "positive." And our total outstanding debt level has gone down. Wisconsin
has $279 million in its rainy day fund, the highest balance ever, and 165 times larger
than when I took office. Most importantly, we have reduced the unemployment rate to
4.6 percent, and Wisconsin continues to outperform the national average. Wisconsin
workers are finding jobs - 2014 was Wisconsin's best year for private sector job growth
in a decade. They are helping to grow our economy and enjoying growth in per capita
personal income that exceeds the U.S. average. In addition, similar to my first two
budgets, this budget continues to hold the line on property taxes, and in 2014
homeowners realized the first increase in equalized values since 2008. In total,
through the three biennial budgets I have signed into law, we will have achieved six
consecutive years of property tax reductions. No other state can claim this
achievement.

Act 55 continues to invest in our priorities and create prosperity for all of Wisconsin's
citizens. The budget I introduced on February 3, 2015, focused on our core themes of
growing our economy, developing our workforce, transforming education, reforming
government and investing in our infrastructure. It also continued to provide property
tax relief while protecting our taxpayers from new taxes and unreasonable fees. My
budget recommendations also contained significant reforms in both K-12 and higher
education, compassionate entitlement reform and accountability through a drug
testing initiative, and additional opportunities for recipients of government assistance
to transition to meaningful, family-sustaining employment. Beyond these reforms, my
budget recommendations held state borrowing to historic lows, while ensuring a
strong infrastructure and setting the stage for a once-in-a-generation $1 billion
investment in downtown Milwaukee.

In a highly-competitive, globalized economy, Wisconsin residents and businesses have
consistently told us we need lower taxes, a capable workforce, a strong educational
system centered on parental choice, and an efficient government in order for us to
successfully compete and increase our prosperity. They have not asked for a handout;
rather, they have asked for the opportunity to achieve through initiative and
independence. It is our job to create this environment and maximize these
opportunities by creating jobs, expanding our economy and removing government
barriers.

Throughout its deliberations, I worked collaboratively with the Legislature to improve
upon the introduced budget. I am pleased the Legislature has returned a budget that
achieves our shared goals of continuing to improve our economy, reforming education
by putting parents and students first, and sound fiscal management. Specifically, the
Legislature worked diligently to enhance funding for public schools while continuing to
reduce property taxes.

This bill also reduces the marriage penalty, providing new relief to Wisconsinites.
Additional tax relief is provided to teachers, job creators and the families of our
neighbors with disabilities. These achievements continue our commitment to keep
more money in the hands of Wisconsin taxpayers.
Furthermore, this budget invests an additional $309 million into educational
opportunities. This budget also provides parents with more choices, and more
information, relating to their children's education, regardless of their zip code.

We are helping to make college more affordable for our state's working families. For
the first time in history, University of Wisconsin System tuition will be frozen for four
years straight. It was important to us to double down on our historic two-year tuition
freeze from our last budget for our students and their families. This budget provides
new flexibilities to the University of Wisconsin System to govern its own affairs and
achieve significant savings and efficiencies. The budget also reinforces the link
between education and employment opportunities by retaining performance-based
funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System and dedicating further resources
to our successful Fast Forward program. Combined, these investments expand
economic opportunity to all.

While the budget provides new opportunities for Wisconsinites to achieve the
American Dream, it also protects our most vulnerable neighbors and relatives. This
budget maintains our commitment to preserve Medicaid as a safety net for our state's
neediest by providing health insurance coverage for everyone living in poverty, despite
the continued instability of the Affordable Care Act. It also includes a framework for
establishing sustainability in our long-term care system and preserving the rights of
families and patients to choose what works best for them.

The budget also includes accountability and opportunity for certain public assistance
programs and unemployment insurance recipients by providing both drug testing and
treatment. We want people to know the dignity that comes from work. These
programs will encourage personal responsibility and workforce readiness. We have
continued to reform these entitlement programs by including treatment for substance
abuse for those truly trying to overcome the cycle of addiction, so they can provide for
themselves and their families.

Further, we are continuing to make prudent investments in Wisconsin's infrastructure
by prioritizing major highway projects and comprehensive upgrades to the
maintenance of the state highway system. This will ensure the movement of
manufacturing and agricultural products to market efficiently. We are also continuing
to invest in our tourism industry, which was recently ranked number one in the
Midwest. Similarly, this budget also invests in one of our greatest tourist attractions,
our magnificent natural resources, by ensuring continued broad access to those
natural resources for future generations.

This budget enacts many substantive government reforms, ranging from a shared
agency services initiative designed to more efficiently deliver "back office" state agency
functions, to consolidating and merging various functions in order to enhance
customer service and taxpayer value. Combined, these efforts are reducing the size of
state government and enhancing accountability.

Finally, in contrast to politicians in Washington who continue to expand the reach of
the federal government, our reforms have put the hardworking citizens and taxpayers
of Wisconsin back in control. This budget focuses on growth and opportunity for all
with no new taxes, while implementing common sense reforms to ensure state
government is more effective, more efficient and more accountable to the public.

 

2015-2017 State Budget Highlights 

 

Below are some of the "highlights of the 2015-2017 State Budget" identified by Governor Walker's Office:

Property Tax Relief
  • Prior to Governor Walker taking office, property taxes on a median value home had increased 27 percent over a decade.  This budget will lower property taxes for the fifth and sixth year in a row.  Since 2011, the typical homeowner has seen a decline of over $130 on his or her tax bill, or about 4.4 percent.  That's real money going back into the pockets of hard-working taxpayers in Wisconsin. 

Growing Our Economy

 

 

Governor Walker's 2015-17 Biennial Budget continues our commitment to investing in key economic development initiatives aimed at improving Wisconsin's business climate and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.  This budget builds upon the achievements of Governor Walker's first term and provides funding for:

 

 

  • Business Development Tax Credit - Combines and streamlines existing tax credits to provide greater simplicity and flexibility in business tax incentives.  This new credit will receive $17 million in 2016 and $22 million in 2017 and beyond to stimulate job creation, improve employee training and retention, and incentivize company investments in Wisconsin.
  • Fabrication Laboratory Grant Program -  Allocates $500,000 for WEDC to award grants for purchases of equipment used in fabrication laboratories for K-12 students. 
  • Confluence Project -Provides $15 million in matched funds for the Eau Claire Area Confluence Arts Center, promoting economic development in downtown Eau Claire and the greater Chippewa region.  Confluence Project fundraisers must raise their entire portion of the project cost before state money will be released.

Developing Our Workforce
The Biennial Budget recognizes that our workforce is critical in spurring Wisconsin's economic growth.  The budget builds on our priorities with significant investments in workforce development and training programs that will help match our workforce with the jobs of today and tomorrow.  It includes important Workforce Readiness Initiatives to help to move Wisconsinites from government dependence to true independence:

 

 

  • Helping people move from government dependence to independence: Implements drug screening, testing, and treatment mechanisms to increase workforce readiness of individuals receiving unemployment insurance or public assistance benefits in certain work-based programs at the Departments of Children and Families, Workforce Development, and Health Services.  Those who fail a drug test will be offered the opportunity to participate in drug treatment and given an opportunity for job training.·         Continues $5 million annually for the Transform Milwaukee Jobs Program and extends the program to Racine, Beloit, and high-need rural areas of the state.
  • Continues funding for Wisconsin Fast Forward at $15 million over the biennium.
    Continues the increased funding amounts for vocational rehabilitation and apprenticeship that were enacted last legislative session.  These programs have impacted thousands of job seekers with disabilities and youths looking for access to education and training programs.

Transforming Education

 

 

Every child - regardless of their zip code - should have access to a great education.  Our reforms have saved school districts hundreds of millions of dollars and allowed each district to put more money directly into our children's classrooms.  The 2015-17 Biennial Budget continues to invest in and transform education here in Wisconsin by increasing state aid and expanding education options for parents and students:

 

 

  • Increased State Support for Schools - Provides $105.6 million in 2016-17 for the school levy tax credit and $108.1 million in FY 2016-17 for equalization aids, while maintaining revenue limits to ensure continued property tax relief.·         Per Pupil Aid - Provides $126.8 million in the first school year and $211 million in the second for per pupil aid outside of revenue caps.
  • Expands School Choice - Provides parents in any school district with the opportunity to participate in the statewide school choice program by phasing out the cap on the number of school choice participants.
  • Provides additional resources for rural schools by increasing funding for:
    • The Sparsity Aid Program by $8.4 million over the biennium.
    • The High-Cost Pupil Transportation categorical aid program by $5 million over the biennium.
    • The reimbursement rate under the pupil transportation aid program for districts transporting children more than 12 miles will be raised from $275 to $300 per pupil.
  • Teacher Licensure -Expands the pool of licensed teacher options for schools by creating alternative pathways to allow a candidate with real life experience to gain a teacher license.  This will help rural areas of need and have a larger focus on technical education courses. 

 
Our budget also works to make higher education more accessible for Wisconsin's working families and students:

 

 

  • Empowers a stronger UW System:
    • Positions the University of Wisconsin System to maximize its ability to remain a world leader in research and instruction by giving it greater flexibilities to manage compensation, human resources, procurement, capital projects, and other areas.
    • Continues to make attending a University of Wisconsin institution affordable for Wisconsin's hardworking students and parents by extending the tuition freeze for an additional two years.  For the first time in University of Wisconsin System history, undergraduate tuition will be frozen for four years straight.

Reforming Government

 

 

This budget ensures state government is working within the means of taxpayers and is more efficient, more effective, and more accountable.   Governor Walker's 2015-17 Biennial Budget also provides more flexibility to local governments by repealing another costly and burdensome state mandate:

 

 

  • Prevailing Wage Repeal -This depression-era prevailing wage mandate artificially increases the cost of construction.  Under the repeal, local governments are exempted from this mandate, therefore saving millions for our schools, technical colleges, and other local governments.
  • Lean Government Initiative - Creates the Lean Government Initiative at the Department of Administration (DOA) in order to continue enhancing lean initiatives and finding efficiencies across state government.  The initiative continues improvement efforts to eliminate waste, save time and cost across agencies, and improve government services for citizens of Wisconsin, as well as for state employees.

 

Return to table of contents

 

The Vetoes 

 

Here are the subjects of the 104 partial vetoes the Governor issued in signing the 2015-2017 Budget.  Links to further explanation of the vetoes can be found here: Veto Message

  

1. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Funding to the Joint Committee on Finance Supplemental Appropriation

2. Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Grants to Various Organizations  

3. Definition of Bona Fide Angel Investments 

4. Conduit Revenue Bonds

5. Statewide Assessment System

6. Participation in Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

7. Read to Lead Fund Deletion

8. Independent Financial Audits for Parental Choice Program

9. Appointment of Director of Office of Educational Opportunity

10. Director of Office of Educational Opportunity Salary

11. Custodian of Records for Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program

12. Contract for Study of Special Needs Scholarship Program

13. Special Needs Scholarship Program Eligibility Requirement

14. Virtual Marketplace for Digital Educational Resources

15. Performance Funding Formula

16. Performance Funding Report

17. Allocable Student Fees

18. Annual Financial Audit

19. Energy Conservation Master Lease Program

20. Investment in Certain Funds

21. Gift and Grant Funded Building Projects

22. Department of Administration Assessment for Program Revenue Funded Building Projects 

23. Student Identification Numbers  

24. Procurement  

25. Aquaculture Specialist

26. Minority Teacher Loan Program Eligibility

27. Position Reports

28. Academic Staff Appointments 

29. Conservation Fund Appropriations

30. Group Insurance Board Appointments

31. Review of Annual Proposed Changes to the State Group Health Insurance Program

32. Agency Budget Requests

33. Statutory Reserve and Budget Stabilization Fund

34. Utilization of the Department of Administration Procurement and Purchasing Services
35. Pay-for-Performance Contracting Reports

36. Local Zoning Exception

37. Building Commission Contracting Requirements

38. Health Insurance for Protective Services Employees

39. Information Technology Services for Certain Agencies and Shared Agency Services Pilot Program

40. Energy Efficient Building Designer Tax Deduction Certification

41. Time Allocation for Workers' Compensation

42. Duties of the Secretary of State

43. Alternative Telecommunications Utilities

44. Intervenor Compensation

45. Extension of Municipal Water or Sewer Service Appeals Process

46. Universal Service Fund Revenues Report

47. State Agency Lease Requirements

48. Tourism Marketing - Earmark Study

49. Surplus for Rate-Based and Rate-Regulated Providers

50. Ambulatory Surgical Centers Reporting  

51. Transfer of Regulation of Food, Lodging and Recreational Establishments

52. Audiologist and Speech Language Pathologist Fees

53. Progressive Raffles  

54. Joint Committee on Finance Approval of Tax Reciprocity Agreements

55. Sales Tax Exemption for Amusement Device Proceeds

56. Cigarette Tax Manufacturer's Discount

57. Additional Auditor Reporting Comparison Requirements

58. Sales Tax Exemption for Construction Materials

59. Implementation of Room Tax Modifications

60. Layoff Procedures for Certain Employees

61. Unfunded Pension Liability Payment

62. County and Municipal Levy Limit Adjustment for Transferred Services

63. Alcoholic Beverage License Modifications 

64. Lafayette County Sheriff's Department

65. State Broadband Office Funding  

66. Environmental Impact Statement - East Arterial Highway

67. State Highway Program Audit

68. Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities on State Highway Projects

69. Rail Fixed Guideway Transportation Systems

70. Freight Optimization Modeling Consultant Contract

71. Amortization Schedule for Commercial Paper 

72. General Transportation Aids Appeals Process

73. Family Care and IRIS Programs  

74. Labor Region Methodology Study

75. Dispute Resolution Process Relating to Health Insurance Coverage of Chiropractic Treatment

76. FoodShare Employment and Training Drug Testing

77. Grants to an Organization that Provides Advanced Life Support Training

78. Repeal Health Care Provider Fees for Data Collection and Dissemination

79. County-to-County Nursing Home Bed Transfers

80. Exempt Institutions for Mental Disease and County-Operated Nursing Homes

from Bed Assessment

81. Nonemergency Medical Transportation  

82. Healthy Aging Grants

83. Enhanced Dental Services Reimbursement Pilot

84. BadgerCare Plus Coverage for Childless Adults

85. Consolidate Community Mental Health Programs

86. Children's Community Options Program Technical Modification

87. Division of Medicaid Services

88. Pedestrians Crossing Railroads

89. Expanded Payday Lender Authority

90. Nonprofit Voluntary Host Families Report  

91. Increase Part-time District Attorneys to Full-time

92. Reference to the Department of Children and Families

93. Commercial Driver License Fee Waiver  

94. PECFA Program Sunset

95. Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage Trail  

96. 100th Anniversary of the State Capitol  

97. Proceeds from Sale of Stewardship Lands

98. Northern State Forests Master Plans  

99. Audit of Forestry Account

100. Car-Killed Deer Report  

101. Snowmobile Supplemental Trail Aids Requests to Joint Committee on Finance  

102. Grants to Nonprofit Conservation Organizations

103. Areawide Water Quality Management Plan

104. Well Compensation Grant Appropriation

 

 

 

Comparing this budget to past budgets

 

 
Previous Budget signing dates, locations and # of vetoes:
 
Biennium
Date signed 
Location of signing event, why
# of vetoes
2015-2017
Sunday, July 12, 2015
(Gov. Walker)  Valveworks USA, a valve and wellhead component manufacturer.  104
2013-2015 Sunday, June 30, 2013 (Gov. Walker) Catalyst Exhibits, Pleasant Prairie- Company that moved to WI from IL 57
2011-2013 Sunday, June 26, 2011 (Gov. Walker) Fox Valley Metal-Tech, Ashwaubenon, chosen to highlight manufacturing tax cuts included in the budget
50
2009-2011 Monday, June 29, 2009 (Gov. Doyle) Governor's Mansion, Madison 81
2007-2009 Friday, October 26, 2007 (Gov. Doyle) UW Madison campus 33
Here is a comparison of when previous budgets hit significant benchmarks on their way to eventual passage.  Highlighted in blue are actions on the budget that carried over into the start of the next biennium.   

Biennial Budget Introduction date JFC Passage Passed 1st House Passed 2nd House Final Legislative Action Budget Signed
2015-2017 2/3/15 7/2/15 7/7/15 7/8/15
7/8/15
7/12/15
2013-2015
2/20/13
6/4/13
6/19/13
6/21/13
6/21/13
7/1/13
2011-2013
3/1/11
6/13/11
6/14/11
6/16/11
6/16/11 6/30/11
2009-2011 2/17/09 6/8/09 6/11/09 6/25/09 6/26/09 6/29/09
2007-2009 2/13/07 6/20/07 6/26/07 7/6/07 10/23/07 10/26/07
2005-2007 2/9/05 6/9/05 6/21/05 6/30/05 7/5/05 7/26/05
2003-2005 2/20/03 6/4/03 6/18/03 6/19/03 6/24/03 7/25/03
2001-2003 2/20/01 6/7/01 6/19/01 6/29/01 7/26/01 8/31/01
1999-2001 2/16/99 6/10/99 6/30/99 7/1/99 10/6/99 10/28/99
1997-1999 2/12/97 9/4/97 9/16/97 9/25/97 9/29/97 10/13/97
1995-1997 2/16/95 6/15/95 6/22/95 6/28/95 6/29/95
7/28/95 
Note a separate transportation budget passed on 12/20/95
 

Return to table of contents

 

The Republicans who voted against the Budget

 

12 Republicans (11 in the Assembly and 1 in the Senate) broke ranks with their party and voted with the Democrats.  Here are the reasons they gave for their votes:

 

Lawmaker
Reason
Sen. Rob 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."

Rep. Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls)

"Overall this is a reasonably good budget. There are many changes from what the Governor

proposed that are better for the 68th Assembly District. Provisions in this budget to be proud of

include: saving SeniorCare; no tax increase; significantly reduced bonding for transportation

projects; increased funding for K-12 public education, special education and rural schools;

increased resources directed to the successful job training program, Wisconsin Fast Forward,

which I authored last session; and, safeguarding and increasing Medicaid funding to protect the

elderly and disabled.

The budget process, whether at the state or local government level is difficult and messy. This is

my third state budget as Representative to the Assembly and this time was no different.

Unfortunately, I am left with deep concerns over several provisions included in this budget.

Prevailing wage reform deserves thorough debate outside the budget process. Voting for the

'take-it-or-leave-it' provision included in this budget was not the best option, in my opinion. I

believe that this outdated law requires further education and discussion, both in the legislature

and in the public, without the pressure of a looming budget deadline.

Cuts to the UW System are simply too deep, despite the legislature's restoring $50 million.

Efficiencies can and should be implemented, to be certain. However, not all UW campuses are

affected equally by these cuts, and I believe more time is needed to adequately address funding

levels.

While we were able to reduce the amount transportation bonding initially included the

Governor's budget proposal by half, to its lowest level since 1987, this budget does not address

the long-term needs of state and local roads or highways. The budget ignores revenue shortfalls

and makes no provision to restore our infrastructure. I think this was truly a missed opportunity.

In the end, I am confident that with the passage of the budget earlier this morning we will

continue to move forward as a state. However, I could not in good conscience vote in favor of a

budget that is short-sighted on so many key issues." (Source)


Rep. Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg)

Education was also a key factor for Rep. Ed Brooks of Reedsburg, who said the budget that passed was an improvement over the one Walker introduced in February but felt it needed more.

 

"I feel the emphasis on investing in statewide private school vouchers instead of expanding educational options within public education was misplaced," Brooks said in a statement. "Also, we still need to find a better way to fund rural transportation."  (Source)


Rep. James Edming (R-Glen Flora)

 

 "Over the past several months, many constituents contacted me regarding their top priorities for the budget. I listened to my constituents and worked to ensure that their concerns were addressed. I am proud that this budget moves to save SeniorCare for our seniors and protects IRIS and ADRC facilities for future generations. Most importantly however, I'm proud that this budget increases funding for our K-12 school system by $200 million. 

"Undoubtedly, the budget contained a number of positive aspects, but after much consideration, I felt I could not vote for its passage due to inclusion of a repeal of the prevailing wage. I was elected to fight for middle-class workers in northern Wisconsin, and I'm not convinced repealing this law with undocumented savings would be the most prudent action at this time. 

"I will continue to work hard for the constituents in my district and appreciate that so many of them reached out to me about their thoughts regarding the two year spending plan for the state. I am confident that our state will continue to move forward with the continued input from the hardworking citizens of our state." (Source)

 

Rep. David Heaton (R-Wausau)

"I believe that by voting no on this budget, I was best expressing the thoughts and views of the people that I represent."

 

"Included within the budget is a $150,000 grant to Northcentral Technical College to assist in developing its culinary arts program and a $100,000 grant to the Marathon County Economic Development Corp. (MCDEVCO) to establish a revolving loan fund for minority-owned businesses. I am proud to have led the effort to get these grants included in the budget."

 

"Also included in the budget is (a) ... pilot program that will reimburse dentists at a higher rate for providing care for children in need. At my request, this pilot program was expanded to Marathon County."

 

"If any of these items came before the Assembly in separate legislation, I would vote for them."

"One of the biggest issues I have with this budget is the increase in bonding for transportation. ... There were also items that reflected significant changes that I believe should have been handled outside the budget process as separate legislation. For example, the budget includes a provision that would repeal the prevailing wage for local units of government. ... The unknown impact on our local workers along with the unverified savings were enough to make me take pause on including this item in our budget. Another issue that concerned me was the changes to the room tax law. I heard from some of my local officials that this change was unwelcome and not needed." (Source)


Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa)

[Excerpted]

 After several months of hard work I was able to get the following changes made to the state budget." 

 Protection of the Wisconsin SeniorCare program 

 Addition of $200 million to the governor's proposal to K-12 education. 

 Require funds to go towards fraud prevention in assistance programs, $1 million over two years. Every dollar spent in this effort generates 18 times the amount spent in savings. 

 State Highway 54 realignment and bridge project Environmental Impact Study (EIS) directly benefitting large scale developments, both residential and industrial, in Wood County. 

 Allow UW-Stevens Point (UWSP) to create a differential tuition program limited to the highest need departments experiencing bottleneck enrollment delaying enrolled student graduation dates. (Can only be exercised upon student referendum approval.) 

 Provide for the ongoing operation of the UWSP paper science making machine. An economic driver for our regions timber and paper-making industry. 

 Maintain the Educational Approval Board (funding, operations, duties and staff). 

 Remove all proposal language which would convert the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Board to an Advisory Council. 

 Remove all language in order to maintain the appropriation for the UW System Discovery Farms Program. 

 

With all that being accomplished, I still had some concerns with the state budget. While I'm happy to see some great proposals and projects in the transportation fund, I believe we continue to borrow too much in order to fund it. The proposal to repeal the prevailing wage law should have been a stand-alone bill and never tied to the budget. 

In regards to education, I have heard repeatedly from constituents that we must do more for our classrooms and better respond to the needs of our school districts. It is our responsibility as a state to provide the necessary dollars to educate our children and sadly I felt this budget falls short in allocating sufficient funds to do so. 

In Central Wisconsin, we have a very real struggle keeping our natural areas of beauty pristine and exciting for tourists to visit and enjoy. Lake Petenwell in Adams County in particular is very troubled and prone to large blooms of blue green algae. I don't feel this budget plan has gone far 

enough to protect areas like this across the state of Wisconsin. I am concerned with aquatic invasive species invading our local lakes, policy that protects groundwater quality, and policy that enables local governments to make good decisions on these issues. I look forward to working more on these issues the remainder of this session. 

After taking all of this into account, I decided to vote against the proposed state budget. I remain committed to making good public policy that represents Central Wisconsin's needs. I look forward to the fall session to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to achieve this goal. (Source)

 

Rep. Lee Nerison (R-Westby)

Rep. Lee Nerison of Westby, chairman of the Assembly agriculture committee, cited the lack of support for rural roads.

 

"I am concerned that this vital economy will quickly erode if we don't take care of our rural roads so we can get our goods to market," Nerison said in a statement. "Rural areas need good roads just as much as Milwaukee does, and I'll keep fighting to get our fair share." (Source)


Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville)

 

 "Over the past several months, I've heard from many of you about ways to improve our state's two-year spending plan and what I, as a legislator, should work to prioritize. With your feedback, I truly believe that I've been effective in taking the governor's original proposal and making it better for the people of southwest Wisconsin. 

"I'm pleased that this budget prioritizes our public schools and makes a $200 million in our K-12 system. It also moves to save SeniorCare, and ensures our ADRCs and IRIS are maintained for our most vulnerable. 

"And finally, this budget does a number of great things for our community - like creating an economic development fund for our region to help grow our economy. Per my request, this budget provides tax incentives for teachers, initiatives to promote tourism in our communities and even assistance that will help law enforcement combat drug abuse in our neighborhoods. 

"While I am proud of the progress that my colleagues and I made in improving this budget, I felt that ultimately I could not in good conscience support its final passage. 

"Although there is a reduction in the amount of borrowing in this budget, I continue to fear that our state's transportation spending is on an unsustainable path. With an aging infrastructure and a stagnant source of transportation revenues, this budget does not go far enough in addressing our state's long-term transportation needs. 

"Many of you have also shared with me your concerns with the effects that this budget will have on public education. As a parent of two, I strongly believe that it's our responsibility to ensure that our students, whether in our K-12 system or in our universities, receive the support they need to be successful. Sadly, I believe this budget falls short in this measure. 

"As an independent voice for our community in the state legislature, I will continue to work hard to represent your views in our state Capitol. The input I received from many of you was crucial in helping me reaching this decision, and I believe that my vote on this budget best reflects the views of our district."  (Source)

 

Rep. Warren Petryk (R-Eleva)

Rep. Warren Petryk cited the $850 million in borrowing for transportation as his primary objection.

 

"In my opinion our overall debt owed by the state continues to be much too high," the Eleva Republican wrote.

 

Petryk said he supported increasing the gas tax and registration fees to fund road construction. He also balked at full repeal of the prevailing wage law, which sets minimum pay for construction workers on public projects, and said he would have liked to see more support for education. (Source)


Rep. Keith Ripp (R-Lodi)

[Excerpted]

 "After long consideration, I ultimately had to make the difficult decision to vote against its passage. 

As Chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, a farmer, and the owner of a small trucking company, I truly understand and experience daily how the status of our infrastructure can and does impact our state's economy. While I support many of the provisions included in the final budget, I cannot in good conscience vote for a plan that does not adequately address our state's long-term transportation funding issues. These are issues that have the potential to plague Wisconsin's commerce for decades. 

Fiscally, I believe we made the right decision in this budget to significantly reduce transportation revenue bonding by almost $850 million, the lowest levels of bonding in decades. The bill's original bonding levels would have raised our debt service to potentially $0.25 on the dollar, a number I believe is irresponsible and unacceptable to taxpayers. However, these reductions still come at a price. Without additional long-term solutions, projects all over the state will now be delayed. I cannot justify this transportation budget to my mostly rural district where communities have already been desperately waiting for these projects. 

I am also disappointed that prevailing wage language was included in the final budget. Last week, members of the legislature came to an agreement on a budget deal, a deal that included removing prevailing wage and the Bucks Arena provisions from the budget completely. While I was ready and willing to work with my colleagues on meaningful prevailing wage reform, we told our constituents that it would be brought forward as a separate issue, and I cannot agree with its inclusion. 

There are several provisions included in the final version of this budget that I wholeheartedly support and believe will move Wisconsin forward. As the product of public schools and the father of three children who attended them, public education remains a top priority for me. I worked with my colleagues to restore and increase K-12 public education funding, with a significant additional investment of $200 million over the biennium. We also continue to support Wisconsin families by holding the line on property taxes and extending the UW tuition freeze for another two years. 

Additionally, the final budget continues to defend our most vulnerable population by protecting IRIS and saving SeniorCare. We also invested an additional $15 million in an already effective Fast Forward program to continue closing the skills gap and successfully train employable people. This program has already benefited constituents and businesses in my district, and I am optimistic it will continue to do so in the future..." (Source

 

Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City)

School funding and transportation borrowing were the primary reasons Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) voted against the budget. 

 

 "We struggle to keep the lights on, honestly," in schools in southwestern Wisconsin, Tranel said. (Source)


Rep. Nancy VanderMeer (R-Tomah)

Rep. Nancy VanderMeer, whose 70th District stretches nearly 90 miles from the La Crosse County border to north of Stevens Point, said the state needs to spend more on rural transportation while borrowing less money.

"We have a lot of road surface in our district," VanderMeer said. "I believe that ... our transportation aspect is very vital to our rural areas and the expansion of future business and commerce."

 

The first-term Republican from Tomah said she would also have liked to see more spending on education but nevertheless was pleased that the budget did not cut Family Care and Senior Care, programs designed to keep the sick and elderly out of institutions.

 

"There are a lot of very, very good things in this budget," she said. (Source)


 




 

 

 

Walker Presidential Campaign Prepared to Launch

 

Below please a compilation of news and information regarding the run up to the Governor's expected presidential campaign announcement on Monday.

 

In advance of the Governor's announcement on Monday, news of the leadership team advising his campaign has made its way into several news stories today; Weekly StandardMilwaukee Journal Sentinel and Chicago Sun Times.

 

Campaign Chairman

 

Mike Grebe

Michael W. Grebe is the president and CEO of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, a private foundation providing grants in support of democratic capitalism; limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity; and a vigorous defense at home and abroad of American ideas and institutions. Prior to becoming the foundation's CEO, Mr. Grebe was a member of its board of directors for six years.

Prior to joining the Bradley Foundation, Mr. Grebe was chairman and CEO of Foley & Lardner, one of the country's largest law firms, where he was a partner for more than 25 years. Mr. Grebe concentrated his practice on corporate and financial law. He is a former member and president of the board of regents for the University of Wisconsin System and past member and chairman of the board of visitors for the United States Military Academy. He is a member of the board of directors of the Oshkosh Corporation, the Church Mutual Insurance Company, and the Charter School Growth Fund. He is a former chairman of the Greater Milwaukee Committee and co-chairman of the seven-county M7 economic development project in southeastern Wisconsin.

Mr. Grebe is a former general counsel to the Republican National Committee and was the Republican National Committeeman for Wisconsin during 1984-2002. He was a delegate to Republican National Conventions from 1984 to 2000.

Mr. Grebe received his bachelor's degree with honors from the United States Military Academy and his law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan. He served in the United States Army and was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and two Bronze Stars (one for valor) for his service in Vietnam.

Finance Co-Chairs

 

 

Todd Ricketts

Todd Ricketts is a director of Chicago Baseball Holding LLC (the holding company for the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball franchise), and a leader for Chicago Cubs Charities.  Todd is also the Director & CEO of the Ending Spending Super PAC, which is dedicated to educating and engaging American taxpayers about wasteful and excessive government spending.

 

 Todd starred in one of the highest-rated episodes of the CBS television show "Undercover Boss." He is also a member of the TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation Board of Directors. Todd became CEO of Ending Spending and joined the Board of Directors in early 2013.

Todd is also an accomplished small-business man, currently owning and running the Higher Gear bike shops in Wilmette and Highland Park, IL. He continues to manage his own investments and serves as a consultant to many companies in which he invests, such as Off-Site LLC, a disaster recovery and back-up data center enterprise based in Kenosha, WI. Others include Big Blue Swim Schools and High Plains Bison.

 

Jon Hammes
Jon Hammes is the founder and managing partner of Hammes Company. His primary responsibilities include providing overall leadership and managing the efforts of the organization. Jon is recognized as a leader in the development, financing and management of real estate assets, specifically in the healthcare industry.

Prior to forming Hammes Company, Jon was a Midwest Regional Partner for Trammell Crow Company and a member of its management board. He earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science, Real Estate Appraisal and Investment Analysis from University of Wisconsin. He serves on the boards of several organizations, including the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee and the Medical College of Wisconsin, among others.

 

 

 

Governor Walker's campaign maps out post announcement tour:

Various media outlets have reported today that following his expected formal presidential campaign announcement on Monday in Waukesha, Governor Scott Walker will hit the first four states in the Republican Primary nominating process; Nevada, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa.

In addition to the "First Four" states, Fox 6 News reports that Governor Walker will also travel to Georgia in his first week on the trail, and will also hit Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee and North Carolina.

 

Monday- Wisconsin

  • Governor Walker expected to announce his presidential campaign at 5:15 PM

Tuesday- Nevada:

  • The Governor is scheduled to do a mid-day event in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Details:  Clark County GOP Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker at Red Rock Harley-Davidson, 2260 S. Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas, NV - event starts at 10:45 am Pacific.

Wednesday- South Carolina:

The Governor is scheduled to do;

  • Charleston, South Carolina- Coffee & Donuts with Governor Scott Walker at Low Country Harley-Davidson, 4707 Dorchester Rd., North Charleston SC. 7:30 AM Eastern.
  • Lexington, South Carolina- Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker at Hudson's Smokehouse, 4952 Sunset Blvd., Lexington, SC. -10:45 AM Eastern.
  • Mauldin, South Carolina- Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker at Mutt's BBQ in Mauldin, SC.  1:45 Eastern.


Thursday- New Hampshire:

The Governor is scheduled to do; 

  •  Amherst, New Hampshire- Meet & Greet at Joey's Diner- 1 Craftsman Lane, Amherst, NH 03031- 10:45 AM Eastern.
  • North Hampton, New Hampshire- Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker at Seacoast Harley-Davidson- 17 Lafayette Rd, North Hampton, NH 03862, 3:30 PM Eastern 
Friday-Sunday-Iowa:


Friday

  • Davenport, IA-Rally with Governor Scott Walker-Modern Woodmen Park, 209 S Gaines Street, Davenport, Iowa 52802- 11:00 AM CENTRAL
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa-Town Hall with Governor Scott Walker- Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, 410 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401- 2:00 PM Central.
  • Urbandale, Iowa- A Cookout with Governor Scott- at Gov. Scott Walker's Iowa HQ-2775 86th St, Urbandale, Iowa 50322- 6:00 PM Central.

Saturday

  • Council Bluffs, IA-Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker-Hyvee, 2323 W Broadway, Council Bluffs, Iowa 51501- 8:00 AM Central.
  • Sioux City, Iowa- Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker- Western Iowa GOP Office, 119 6th St, Sioux City, Iowa 51103- 11:00 AM Central
  • Carroll, Iowa- Meet & Greet with Governor Scott Walker- Carroll Cycle Center, 1327 Plaza Dr, Carroll, Iowa 51401- 2:30 PM
  • Haverhill, Iowa - Cookout with Governor Scott Walker- JD Heil Farms, LTD-3024 Oaks Ave, Haverhill, Iowa 50120, 7:30 PM

Sunday

  • On Sunday, the Governor will be in Cedar Falls, Plainfield and Dubuque.
  • Dubque, Iowa- Meet & Greet with Governor Walker at Giese Manufacutring, 7025 Chavenelle Rd, Dubuque, Iowa 52002

 

 

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