WPT Capitol Report, May 30, 2017

News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin

Members, We hope that you had a great weekend, and that you were able to find some time to relax. We also wanted to bring your attention to Governor Walker, who today threatened to veto the entire 2017-2019 $76 billion budget if it raises property taxes on Wisconsin families. We appreciate Governor Walker's making property tax relief for Wisconsinites a priority for his administration and in this budget. This week, our Capitol Report will bring you up to speed on Wisconsin's latest unemployment numbers, where one report ranks our state for start-up activity, the latest actions from the Joint Finance Committee, new proposals regarding child neglect and penalties for rioting, which Illinois company is relocating to Wisconsin, and Governor Walker's recent actions on autonomous vehicles. As always, we hope you find this weekly report to be interesting and informative. If there are ever any issues that you would like to see included, or if you ever have any questions or comments, please reach out to us at Have a great week, WPT, Inc.

Last week

Thanks for all of you who wrote testimony for last week's public hearing in the Senate on the repeal of the personal property tax in Wisconsin. As you can imagine, the day went very well, but the job isn't over. The room was packed with small business owners, various organizations, lawmakers, and individual citizens who were there to testify in front of the committee and share their experiences with this tax. On Thursday of this week, we will see the public hearing in the Assembly on AB 277. This is the Assembly companion bill, and we still need testimony and input from you. This fight is an ongoing battle, but the biggest question is where the revenue will be made up if this tax is repealed. It is not up to this particular committee to decide where, that is a job for the Joint Committee on Finance, and if this bill is passed, it would need to go to their committee for them to decide how the fiscal elements would be configured. Our only concern is repealing this tax for Wisconsin's small business owners, and making sure that the cost and regulatory burdens are lifted once and for all. Again, those burdens will not be shifted onto homeowners in the form of property tax increases. In fact, this bill ensures that will not happen. We would love for you to attend on Thursday and to share your thoughts. This might be the last option we will have to offer public testimony on this issue- an issue, by the way, that many of you contact me about on a weekly basis.

If you cannot make it, click here and fill out the form, and we will print and deliver your comments directly to the committee chairman. If you already filled this out, you do not need to do it again.

If you click the link, focus on a few things: would you have reinvested in new equipment or your business if you didn't have to pay the tax? How much do you usually pay? How burdensome are the compliance hours and costs? Make sure to include your name, where you live (full address not needed) and your business' name. If you have any questions or want to get ahold of me directly, please reach out at (608) 255-7473 or at The hearing details are as follows:

Assembly Committee on Ways & Means

Public Hearing on:

Assembly Bill 277 by Representative Bob Kulp: Eliminating the personal property tax and making an appropriation

Thursday, June 1st, 10AM Room 225 NW in the State Capitol

WI job growth slowest since 2010

The good news is, Wisconsin's unemployment rate is at its lowest since early 2000, as we reported last week. Wisconsin's labor force participation rate, or the percentage of those in the workforce, is also outpacing the national average. The not-so-good news is that Wisconsin's job growth last year was its slowest since 2010, with private sector employment increasing by only 0.48 percent in 2016. Wisconsin added just under 11,600 jobs from December 2015 to December 2016, which marked the slowest period of job growth since July 2010 and the 12 months prior, and the worst since a more-than 5% drop in 2009. The state's Department of Workforce Development did indicate, however, that since December of 2010, Wisconsin has added 179,820 jobs in the private sector, and a giant 21 percent jump in construction jobs since 2010. The biggest sectors for gains last year were education and health services, which added 5,288 jobs, professional and business services 4,321 jobs, and trade, transportation and utilities added about 2,900 jobs. As BizTimes points out, total government employment increased by one percent, or 3,872 jobs. The manufacturing realm saw a loss of about 3,780 jobs last year, and total wages during the 4th quarter of 2016 were down 0.6 percent.

Gov. Walker says rejecting self-insurance switch would mean 10% increase to state worker premiums

If the legislature rejects his plan to switch the state's healthcare model for insuring its employees to a self-insured model, his administration might have to bump state employee premiums up 10%. All told, the administration says the switch would save taxpayers over $80 million in two years, but the lost savings, coupled with a $22 million tax bill from the federal government, might have to be made up by a double-digit increase on state worker's premiums- the amount paid each month by individual plan-holders. The Joint Finance Committee and republican lawmakers have been steadfastly against the plan to switch, citing disruptions in the market and causing problems that don't yield long-term savings. Under the plan, the state would pay medical claims directly on behalf of state employees, rather than paying premiums to HMO's. The state would objectively pick up more risk in the process, but save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, according to Governor Walker's numbers.

Separating transportation from state budget will cause delays, according to Governor Walker

The big news last week was that some lawmakers wanted to remove the transportation budget from the overall state budget, and write, debate and pass it as its own bill. While this might mean that the rest of the state's departments, programs, and services would be fully funded and go unharmed by the transportation debacle, today Governor Walker warned lawmakers that making the move to separate transportation out of the state budget would likely cause delays due to a 45 percent reduction in funds for major projects. "Let's just get it done," Walker said in a statement today, standing near I-39/90 in Southern Wisconsin. While the idea doesn't seem in the cards for Walker or Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he is open to the idea. Also in a statement, Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke said, "Assembly Republicans are not standing in the way of the state transportation budget. We have said that we are open to negotiations and we are willing to explore options. However, we can't build our roads on the backs of future taxpayers. We need a long-term solution." According to the Governor, if the transportation budget isn't passed by the start of the state's fiscal year on July 1st, projects like the expansion of I-39/90, Madison Beltline, Highway 10/441, and Highway 15 would likely see delays. The biggest hold-outs on transportation are Assembly Republicans, who do not want to see borrowing levels passed at the rate the Governor proposes- $500 million. But under Walker's plan, these major projects would continue, and an additional $40 million in general transportation aids to counties and municipalities would be included for local needs.

WPT Weekly Member Poll Results: Gov. Walker issues veto threat, proposal to increase penalties for child neglect, bill to define and create penalties for rioting, businesses moving to WI, and where you were in the year 2000

Last week's Capitol Report brought you stories regarding Governor Walker threatening to veto the entire state budget if it increased property taxes, bills regarding child neglect, and rioting in Wisconsin, the state luring in companies from Illinois, and the lowest unemployment since early 2000. Let's get down to it!

Governor Walker today threatened to veto the entire two-year $76 billion state budget if it includes increases on property taxes. Do you support this move?

Nearly 80 percent of respondents support a potential veto of the state budget if it increases property taxes. Over 10 percent disagree, and under 10 percent didn't know or preferred not to respond. "No matter how one cuts it...Taxes are required for government to function." "We are retired; having to pay more property taxes will force us to move." "Property and income taxes are too high in Wisconsin, finally someone who gets it!" "Yes, I like the tax bill going down. How about we freeze it for a while, and use the extra money to fund roads? BadgerCare? School education spending (NOT SPORTS)??" "Property tax levies should be decided on by local officials. If they go up and the citizen us unhappy, they can vote their local officials out of office." Lawmakers have introduced bills that would make rioting a felony in Wisconsin. Good idea or bad idea?

Over 90 percent of respondents like the idea of making rioting a felony in Wisconsin. Just under 10 percent didn't have a position or preferred not to respond. "Too many riots have been going on and people are getting hurt because of it." "PEACEFUL PROTEST is ok, but not the rioting the idiots did in Madison and the criminal damage they did to the capitol building in 2011 were a disgrace. There should be a provision for the illegal running away by the senate democrats as well. That childish behavior is the reason republicans have been so successful since in our state." "Many times the rioting is done by people who do not live in our state or community where the riots are taking place. Riots also cause insurance rates to increase, property damage, personal injuries, etc." "My that rioting makes us no better than Islamic State. But a peaceful demonstration? Now THAT shakes the world! Any mad person can riot. It takes a truly courageous American to stand in peaceful protest." "Bad behavior should be punished." "I was going to go out rioting tonight, but now that it's a felony, I think I'll stay home."

Two lawmakers want to stiffen penalties for child neglect to up to 60 years. What are your thoughts?

Over 70 percent like the proposal to increase penalties for child neglect in Wisconsin. "Those who have child and then neglect them, should never be allowed to reproduce any other children, they are a danger to their potentially yet to be born offspring." "I believe child neglect should have a very stiff penalty, however there needs to be a place parents can bring their kids if they feel they can no longer take care of them after the infant years. This penalty also can not include taxpayer funded incarceration...maybe a bracelet monitor, depending on the severity." "If we don't take care of our children, who will??" "Sentences should be written by judges and legislators should keep their noses out of it." Another Illinois manufacturer is relocating to Wisconsin, at the same time Wisconsin ranks last nationally for start-up companies. Where should we focus most: bring in out-of-state companies? Assist in establishing new WI companies? Help current WI companies expand?

Nearly 2/3rds of respondents think the state should focus on luring out of state businesses, helping to create new companies in Wisconsin, and focus on helping current businesses expand. "Stop the corporate welfare." "Assist in new companies to get started." "It is difficult starting up a new business in Wisconsin because of all the red tape and burdensome requirements by the state. The Department of Revenue could streamline the process and make it user friendly. One has to either hire a lawyer to navigate all the requirements the state burdens new start ups with, and to mention all the federal requirements one must check off their list. It would be helpful to have Department of Revenue employees dedicated to guiding those who are proposing a new business start up through the entire process so nothing is over looked. A nasty call or letter from the IRS or Department of Revenue because a new business had inadvertently not filed all the correct forms etc. would be very helpful." "Well we are one of the highest taxed states as far as income and that would be a great place to begin."

"Was working in 2000, Sheboygan County. Car was a Corsica. My memory was going to Orlando, FL to Disney World." "Same farm I still live on, but had just sold my dairy herd because I was burnt out, long hours and tired of the roller coaster of the prices, that hasn't changed! Missed it so much, after 9 months, was milking once again. Driving a Dodge Dynasty, Chevy pickup. Remember the big Y2K scare that many electronics were going to fail when the year 2000 arrived, much to do about nothing (just like global warming." "I was self employed and still am farming. Was dairy but now grain farming. Still at the same location. Was driving our farm truck and had a ford explorer." "I lived in the same house that I have now. I have the same job that I had in 2000, it's a family owned business." "I was a freshmen at Kimberly High School, didn't even have my drivers license yet :) Wow how much can change in 17 years." "Nothing's changed. I'm still stuck. Upward mobility is an issue in most of the state, except Madison and Milwaukee. There needs to be a lot more done to foster wage growth, and more business done locally. Need to get big box stores OUT, because they kill prosperity." "Living in Green Bay, just had a second child. Still here, working hard to provide for my family." "Dodge Grand Caravan." "Farming" "Good, but what is the government assistance programs rated at??????" "Wisconsin was in a much better state in 2000, it's been a long, steady decline."

GOP lawmakers create Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at UW-Madison

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Governor Walker, and other republican lawmakers and leaders last week announced a proposal to create the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at UW-Madison. The leaders said the core mission of the new center would be to facilitate research, leadership training, and bring speakers and public events to campus. "I'm proud that we can honor the leadership and accomplishment sof Wisconsin's longest service governor by establishing a new center of learning and innovation," Speaker Vos said. The new center will be run by a director who is overseen by a seven-member public leadership board with two departments at UW: the Depaartment of Political Science and the La Folloette School of Public Affairs. "On our college campuses, we need to hear more than just one side of the debate; we need to ensure every voice is heard," said Speaker Vos. "this center will promote an even more rigorous debate of the current issues and hopefully, bipartisan solutions." The proposal allocated $1.5 million each year of the biennium, with $500,000 set aside to sponsor speakers across the UW System campuses. The goal is to have the center open for the beginning of the Fall Semester in September.

Right to carry bill introduced

Senator David Craig (R-Big Bend) and Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) have introduced a bill that would allow people to carry concealed firearms without a permit, undoing current law which requires a concealed-carry permit, and mandates that people undergo training and receive a license. The bill would also do-away with permitting for electronic weapons (tasers), in addition to hand guns. Wisconsin would join 33 other states that currently allow people to carry stun guns without a permit. Multiple school districts last week began reacting, passing resolutions that publicly denounced the legislation. Among those were Shorewood, Fox Point-Bayside, Mequon-Theinsville, and others. Sen. Craig said that people should have the right to carry weapons for personal protection. "What we want to do is allow individuals to protect themselves as our Founding Fathers, the Second Amendment guarantees them. So whether or not that's something like a firearm, all the way down to electronic weapon, you should have the right to do that and the government shouldn't be getting in your way." The proposal will receive public testimony tomorrow in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.