News of the Day

More Money for Schools and Lower Property Taxes

Yesterday, in front of an crowd of students and staff at Tullar Elementary School in Neenah, Governor Scott Walker today signed the 2017 – 19 state budget into law. The budget lifts K-12 education aid to the highest appropriated levels in state history and keeps Governor Walker’s promise to lower property taxes for the typical home so they will be lower in 2018 than in 2010.

“This budget proves you can provide more money for our schools and lower property taxes at the same time,” Governor Walker said. “Our successful economic and fiscal reforms led to a growing economy and better budget outlook. We call this the Reform Dividend, and we are investing this dividend in our priorities.”

Governor Walker’s priorities for this budget came as a result of listening sessions he held with citizens in all 72 counties. Our priorities fall into three categories: Student Success, Accountable Government, and Rewarding Work. This budget, which is projected to end with a roughly $200 million surplus, includes major new investments in each of these areas and provides continued tax relief.

“After listening to families and hardworking taxpayers across our state, we built this budget based on the people’s priorities,” Governor Walker continued. “I thank the Legislature for keeping the core of our budget in place which includes historic K-12 education funding, property tax relief, and more funding for broadband and worker training. I have never been more optimistic about the future of our state. We are working and winning for Wisconsin!”

In addition, Governor Walker today signed Executive Order #255 which creates an Office of Inspector General at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to reinforce the department’s efforts to find savings and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

Governor Walker Releases Final Budget Vetoes

Governor Scott Walker has released a list of 99 final veto decisions for the 2017–19 state budget. The vetoes improve the general fund balance by $16.5 million in the current biennium and by an estimated $71 million in the 2019-21 biennium. The governor supports using some additional funds to enact broad-based tax reductions, including a sales tax holiday, and provide more aid for our rural schools through sparsity aid.

“This budget maintains the highest appropriated levels of K-12 school aid in state history, eliminates the state-levied property tax, and keeps property taxes for the typical homeowner lower than 2010 levels,” Governor Walker said. “This budget shows we listened to the priorities of all state residents. We invested in schools, worker training, and enacted broad-based tax relief. We are working and winning for Wisconsin.”

The majority of these vetoes are technical corrections, eliminate non-fiscal policy items, or remove items that should be considered through separate legislation.

Wisconsin Appeals Court Upholds “Right-to-Work” Law

The state Court of Appeals upheld Wisconsin’s “right-to-work” law Tuesday, dealing a second legal blow to unions two months after a similar federal lawsuit was thrown out.

Unions sued in state and federal court. Federal law requires unions to represent all workers in certain job classes, and the unions argued it was unconstitutional for the government to prevent them from collecting fees from all workers who they had to provide services for.

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the law was constitutional in July and threw out the federal lawsuit.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin District 3 Court of Appeals unanimously issued a similar decision. The Wausau-based court found the law was constitutional, rejecting the unions’ argument that the government had deprived them of income from non-members. “The unions have no constitutional entitlement to the fees of non-member employees,” Judge Mark Seidl wrote for the court.


Congressional Republicans Make Last Push to Repeal Obamacare

Republican senators are making one last push to overhaul Obamacare days before an end-of-September deadline, but it is not clear whether they have the votes to pass a bill.

Senate leaders have asked the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to produce an expedited analysis of a health care bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Bill Cassidy, R-La. The CBO announced Monday afternoon that it would provide a “preliminary assessment” of the bill by early next week. The CBO is tasked with reviewing whether legislation will add to the deficit; the Senate must have an analysis from CBO in hand in order to bring the legislation up for a vote.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would keep much of the Obamacare tax structure in place, but it would give the money back to the states in the form of block grants so they can design their own health care systems. The bill would end the Obamacare expansion of Medicaid eligibility in 2020 and replace it with per capita block grants to states to address the needs of low income residents.

President Trump has indicated support for the Graham-Cassidy bill, saying that “inaction is not an option.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., did tweet some positive words about Graham-Cassidy on Friday.

Governor Walker Already Plans Vetoes for Parts of Newly-Approved State Budget

Governor Scott Walker has made known the items he’d like to veto after the Wisconsin State Senate passed the 2017-2019 state budget early Friday evening.

In a statement issued soon after the 19-14 vote on the budget that was 11 weeks late in getting approved, the governor said he spoke with senate leaders Friday night and agreed to veto the following items:

* Modifications to Public Finance Authority

* Initial Applicability of the Repeal of Prevailing Wage Law

* Transportation Projects Commission Changes

* Transfer of Segregated Funds (WisDOT Fed Swap)

* Tolling Implementation Study — some 2.5 million was set aside for a study looking into whether to allow toll roads in Wisconsin.

* Energy Efficiency Revenue Limit Adjustment

* School District Referenda Scheduling

* State Capitol Basement Renovations — a million dollars had been set aside for this work.

* Local Regulation of Quarries —  this provision would have  removed local oversight of rock quarries in the state.  Governor Walker says he’s vetoing this item because he believes changes of this magnitude should be addressed in separate legislation.

His office says all vetoes, including full summaries, will be included in the governor’s veto message.

WHEDA Announces New Small Business Financing Tools

At its annual conference on September 12, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced new capital funds to help small businesses expand.

The newly-created WHEDA/LRC Wisconsin Business Opportunity Fund totals $5 million and will finance equipment purchases and other types of hard assets for small businesses through the federal New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) program. NMTCs allocated by WHEDA are a resource to help generate job creation and economic development by promoting equity investment in low-income urban and rural communities. Legacy Redevelopment Corporation (LRC) will administer the fund.

An additional $6.1 million is being made available to support WHEDA’s Participation Lending Program approved in 2012 by Governor Walker and the state legislature. The Participation Lending Program can be used for purchases such as land, facilities and equipment as well as long term working capital.

The $11.1 million of capital for the two new programs is being provided by PNC Bank, Johnson Bank and Milwaukee LISC. A minimum of $3 million will be targeted for the Milwaukee area with the balance available statewide.

For more information on WHEDA programs, visit or call 800-334-6873.

President Trump puts Regulation Monitors in U.S. Agencies

President Donald Trump signed an executive order last Friday to place “regulatory reform” task forces and officers within federal agencies in what may be the most far-reaching effort to pare back U.S. red tape in recent decades.

The sweeping order directs every federal agency to establish a task force to ensure each has a team to research all regulations and take aim at those deemed burdensome to the U.S. economy and designate regulatory reform officers within 60 days and must report on the progress within 90 days.

“Excessive regulation is killing jobs, driving companies out of our country like never before,” Trump said before signing the order. “Every regulation should have to pass a simple test; does it make life better or safer for American workers or consumers?”

Each task force will make recommendations on which regulations to repeal or simplify, Trump said.The order says agencies should seek to repeal regulations that “inhibit job creation,” are “ineffective,” impose costs that exceed benefits or “create a serious inconsistency or otherwise interfere with regulatory initiatives and policies.”

Assembly, Senate to Debate Budget, Foxconn this Week

Wisconsin state lawmakers have a busy week ahead, with the Senate and Assembly scheduled to debate both the state budget and Wisconsin’s $3 billion Foxconn incentives package.

The Senate will take up the Foxconn bill Tuesday. A version of the bill already passed the Assembly.

Assuming the Senate passes the Foxconn bill Tuesday, the full Assembly would convene to approve the changes Thursday.

The Assembly will also convene Wednesday to debate the full state budget, which passed the Legislature’s budget committee on a 12-4 party line vote last week.

Republicans hold a 64-35 seat majority in the Assembly, meaning the budget is all but guaranteed to pass, although Republicans could potentially amend the plan.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald’s office says Republicans in that chamber have not finalized when they plan to take up the budget.

Equifax Data Breach: What Do You Do Now?

Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting agencies, reported a data breach yesterday that may affect as many as 143 million Americans – nearly 44% of the United States population.

Equifax has set up a website ( that allows consumers to check if their information may have been exposed in the breach. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) advises all affected Wisconsin consumers to take additional steps to protect their credit record.

According to Equifax, hackers gained access to certain files between mid-May and late July of this year. Information in the breach includes consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. Some consumers’ credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and dispute documents (that contain personally identifying information) were also accessed.

Equifax has established a dedicated call center at 866-447-7559 to answer consumers’ questions about the breach. The call center is open every day (including weekends) from 6:00 a.m. – midnight, Central Time.

If you believe you may have been affected by this data breach, take these next steps:

Download a copy of the DATCP fact sheet “Data Breach: What to do if it happens to you.

Consider placing a free 90-day (renewable) fraud alert on your credit reports by contacting one of the three major credit reporting bureaus: Experian (888-397-3742), TransUnion (800-680-7289), or Equifax (888-766-0008). When you place a fraud alert with one bureau, that bureau will relay the request to the other two companies on your behalf. A fraud alert warns creditors that you may be an identity theft victim and that they should verify that anyone seeking credit in your name is actually you.

For an even higher level of protection, you may wish to place a security freeze on your credit reports. A freeze bars access to your reports to almost anyone without your express permission.

Request a free credit report from the three credit bureaus by visiting or calling (877) 322-8228. Check your report for irregularities.

Peter Barca to Step Down as Assembly Minority Leader

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca is stepping down from his post leading the Democrats in his house after 6 1/2 years in that role. Olivia Hwang, a spokeswoman for the Kenosha lawmaker and former congressman, confirmed he would be leaving his leadership post on Sept. 30 but remain in the Legislature.

Assembly Democrats have been increasingly concerned about the lack of effectiveness of their caucus, with many feeling the group often failed to have a unified strategy in floor debates.

Some members were upset with Barca’s prominent role in getting approval for an incentive package to bring a Foxconn Technology Group display screen plant to southeastern Wisconsin. Most Democrats oppose the package because of its $3 billion cost and provisions that exempt the company from some environmental rules.

Many of Barca’s colleagues were comfortable with his support for the package, but bothered by how closely he had worked with Republican leaders on the issue, said one person familiar with Thursday’s meeting. That person and others spoke on the condition they not be named because of the sensitivity of the meeting.

Those familiar with the discussions named Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) as one possible candidate to replace Barca. It was not immediately clear who else might run.