News from the Capitol and around Wisconsin
We hope your week is off to a great start, and that you were able to stay safe in many of the large and damaging storms seen across much of the state last night.,
This week's WPT Capitol Report will bring you the latest on several impasses in the state budget, the proposed sales tax holiday, the repeal of the personal property tax, new youth apprenticeship grants, and more.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
Last week, the efforts to repeal the personal property tax in Wisconsin picked up some hefty steam, signaling to many involved interests and parties that this issue is at the forefront for some lawmakers in Wisconsin.
Plans to roll back the tax have obviously been at the top of most business groups' agendas since the beginning of budget deliberations. We kicked it into high gear over the past few weeks as the two stand-alone bills to repeal the PPT made their way through the respective standing committees in the legislature.
But last week, the Joint Finance Co-Chair, Senator Alberta Darling made comments to reporters that rolling back or eliminating the state's PPT is picking up traction among republican senators in the Capitol, noting how popular the efforts are to either eliminate it completely or begin to scale it back.
Objectively, no democrats have advocated for or co-authored either of the bills that would assist Wisconsin's Main Street businesses with the cost and regulatory burden of PPT.
After Sen. Darling's comments. the other Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee also said many of his GOP colleagues in the assembly are also interested in repealing the PPT, among whom is Representative Dale Kooyenga, Vice-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee who last week tweeted: "Locked myself in the office this evening to develop a plan to eliminate the state's personal property tax."
Governor Walker said he is interested in the plan to repeal PPT, but does not any effects of doing so to impact residential property taxes in the state, or at the expense of his plans to reduce income taxes.
Lots of very exciting news last week regarding our ongoing push to repeal this tax. I'm really glad to be able to bring you this great news, and hopefully will have more for you next week!
As always, if I can ever answer any questions or if you ever want to share or discuss any topics with me, please reach out directly at email@example.com.
As deadline approaches, more disagreements plague state budget
As WPT reported last week, K-12 education funding last week became the latest in a series of divisive topics that seem to be piling up. The problem? The next two-year state budget is supposed to be signed, sealed, and delivered by July 1st, when the state's next fiscal year begins.
We know that transportation disagreements have been the most publicized thus far, mainly over the level of bonding versus raising the state's gas tax or vehicle registration fees. But once you factor in the issues of the proposal to move Wisconsin's public employees to a self-insurance model, the sales tax holiday proposal, disagreements on K-12 funding levels, and more, you begin to see why this budget isn't as cut and dry as some might have thought, even with all of the leaders being from the same party.
If the legislature fails to act, current funding levels stay the same as they are now. That means that the longer a potential delay takes, the more of an impact it has on the fiscal accuracy of the new state budget.
Sales tax holiday, which includes video game consoles, likely doomed in budget
According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the proposal to implement a sales tax holiday in Wisconsin to help families purchase school supplies, could actually end up applying also to things like a brand new TV, Xbox or PlayStation. It should be noted that the Joint Finance Committee has commented that language would be inserted that did not include those items.
The proposal would create a sales tax holiday on the first weekend of August 2017 and 2017. The exemption would apply to clothes up to $75, school supplies up to $75 each, school computers up to $250 and personal computers up to $750. The difference between a school computer and a personal computer is quite vague.
If the full Walker proposal was implemented, the savings would come out to $5 per household in Wisconsin- 2.3 million households total. According to the fiscal bureau, if only the 630,382 households with kids took advantage, they would save $17 per household.
But slow down just a second, it actually appears as if this sales tax holiday is doomed anyways, with high ranking republicans saying they want to use the cost of the sales tax holiday in the budget to end or reduce the personal property tax on small business.
Gov. Walker officially asks Trump for permission to drug test BadgerCare recipients
After what seems like months of discussing his plans to request a waiver from the Trump administration to begin drug testing Medicaid recipients, Governor Walker last week kept his promise, officially asking President Trump's administration to sign off on a proposal to drug test childless, able-bodied BadgerCare recipients.
The governor said his proposal will only apply to able-bodied adults and will provide training for jobless and treatment for those who are found using drugs. As always, opponents of this measure say that it costs more than it saves taxpayers, some Democrats even saying this violates an individual's privacy.
Governor Walker's proposal would also waive drug testing for BadgerCare applicants to agree initially to receive treatment for substance abuse, adds an $8 copay for ER visits, and proposes an $8 premium to those making between $6,030 and $12,060 per year.
Trump's administration is not expected to respond for about two-and-a-half months.
WPT Weekly Member Poll Results:
The elimination of the state's property tax, the DNR magazine deal, selling baked goods without a license, Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling on Iowa-based frac sand company, and your favorite baked goods
The Joint Finance Committee has signaled that it will go along with Governor Walker's plan to eliminate the state-levied property tax, and will continue funding forestry programs. Good move or bad move?
It looks like over eighty percent of respondents like the idea of eliminating the state's portion of property taxes. Under ten percent don't like the plan, and just over 10 percent weren't sure or didn't want to respond.
"Curious where they are making up that money." General Purpose Revenue
"Save property tax for local entities."
"Where will the funds come to replace this. Not much taken out by the state on my property taxes. Schools, counties, technical college, and townships are the culprits."
"Good and bad. On the good side, we're simplifying property taxes by eliminating an entity. But, the state is now giving up revenue which needs to be made up elsewhere or programs get cut. The State needs the revenue. But we all know what will happen. The GOP will cut this revenue stream and not replace it . Then they'll piss and moan that they don't have enough revenue and need to make tough choices and cut back. Then, years from now when saner people are running the government and realize more revenue is needed, they'll be lambasted for daring to do so."
The DNR Outdoors Magazine will remain in circulation, after Governor Walker proposed cutting it. Good or bad?
Nearly 60 percent are happy the committee kept the magazine in the state budget. Nearly 20 percent don't like it. A quarter of respondents either didn't know how they felt, or decided not to respond.
"No net taxpayer cost - why not continue it?"
"Who cares. If it brings in revenue, good for them."
"I love this magazine."
A new proposal would eliminate all licensing for bakers/bakeries to sell their products. What do you think of this proposal?
Half of respondents like the plan, and nearly 30 percent do not like it.
"Some distinction needs to be made between occasional sales from home bakeries (no license needed) and commercial operators (license should be required as with restaurants and delis)"
"Less regulation good."
"Keep the license...the bakers/bakeries will lose business."
"It's likely a surprise bakeries are licensed in the first place."
The Wisconsin Supreme Court has shot down a permit from an Iowa-based company that wanted to build a frac sand mine in Western Wisconsin. Was this the right decision?
Half of respondents weren't sure or didn't want to respond. About 40 percent thought the Wisconsin Supreme Court made the right decision."
"Have not seen the proposed site."
"Don't know any of the facts."
"They want job brought back to Wis???"
"Good. Maybe a Wisconsin frac sand company will apply and actually get the permit. Who needs an Iowa company."
"Bread that doesn't mold in one day."
"Chocolate chip cookies and banana cream pie."
"Enjoy them all!"
"Anything my wife bakes!"
"No particular favorite...Fresh baked bizmarks to chocolate fry-cakes mmmm! And fresh buns."
"Locally grown...strawberry rhubarb pie. Yum!"
"Oatmeal Raisin Cookies without nuts."
"All of the above!"
"They are all going to disappear if they are in front of me."
"Pecan pie, bread, blue berry muffin."
"Sweet rolls, chocolate chip cookies, lemon cake, zucchini muffins, glazed donuts, cherry pie"
"Fresh strawberry pie! Yum!"
"Hostess fruit pies. Lemon, cherry, apple, delicious."
"Love baked goods, but eat them sparingly."
"Whatever the wife bakes is good."
Governor Walker announces record $3.9 million in youth apprenticeship grants, will serve 4,300 students
Governor Scott Walker announced $3.9 million in Youth Apprenticeship grant awards last week, which will go to 33 consortiums throughout Wisconsin to help more than 4,300 high school juniors and seniors gain academic and technical instruction with mentored on-the-job training in an occupational area of interest over one or two years.
Participating students may select in an occupational area of interest for their YA job training across 11 DWD-approved career clusters, including Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources; Architecture and Construction; Art, Audio/Visual Technology and Communications; Finance; Health Science; Hospitality and Tourism; Information Technology; Manufacturing; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics; Transportation, Distribution and Logistics; and Marketing, newly developed in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the Dane County School Consortium, part of the South Central Wisconsin YA Consortium, for the 2017-18 school year.
Wisconsin's YA program was authorized by state statute in 1991 as part of a statewide School-to-Work initiative. The Governor's 2017-19 budget proposal sustains demand-based YA funding with the ability to increase program support.
Fish farm bill likely headed for Walker's signature
A bill that would loosen regulations on fish farms could be signed into law soon, according to Senator Tom Tiffany, the bill's author. The bill, authored by the northern Wisconsin lawmaker is aimed at growing the aquaculture industry in Wisconsin.
In short, the bill allows fish farms to fill wetlands and expands further the list of bodies of water that can be diverted for farming purposes. It also says that fish farms will not need permits for discharging material into a wetland if the wetland was created for fish farming. Existing natural bodies of water could also serve as a fish farm, and farms would not need permits to construct or enlarge artificial bodies of water connected to a navigable waterway.
Senator Tiffany said he believes that the industry in Wisconsin is being held back by current regulations, but an attorney for a regional environmental group said those regulations were meant for livestock, and that is her concern.