Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget made news on plenty of fronts – including K-12 education, the UW System and transportation — when it was released, but look a little deeper into the executive budget and the budget bill itself and there are some other provisions businesses could be interested in.
Changes in how employment disputes are handled
The governor’s budget would make several changes to the handling of employment disputes. The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission would be changed from three part-time commissioners to a single chairperson. Walker’s office said the proposal is in recognition of the commission’s decreased workload. The commission conducts elections to determine collective bargaining units, mediates collective bargaining disputes and issues decisions on unfair labor practices.
Walker is also proposing the elimination of the Labor and Industry Review Commission, which reviews Department of Workforce Development decisions on unemployment insurance, employment discrimination and equal enjoyment of places of public accommodation and worker’s compensation decisions by the Division of Hearings and Appeals in the Department of Administration. Instead, those decisions would be reviewed by administrators in the department or division before being appealed to circuit court.
The governor says the change would streamline appellate functions and decrease the time to get a decision for unemployment insurance, equal rights and worker’s compensation cases.
Limiting historic rehab tax credits
The budget puts an annual $10 million limit on the historic rehabilitation tax credit. It also requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to award the credits competitively based on the potential for job creation, benefit to the state, projected impact on the local economy, likelihood the project would happen without the credits and number of credits given out in the area in prior years. Those receiving the credits could have to repay some of the money if they come up short on job projections.
Energy efficiency construction projects at schools
Walker’s budget would eliminate a loophole that allowed school district to exceed their revenue limits for energy efficiency building projects. Many districts had used the exemption to implement multi-million dollar capital improvement campaigns in recent years. Districts would still be able to use referendums for the projects.
The budget also directs the Public Service Commission to prioritize school energy efficiency projects in the Focus on Energy program. Walker proposes an additional $10 million in Focus on Energy funding annually prioritized to public elementary and secondary schools.
Sales tax holiday
The governor is proposing a two-day sales tax holiday in August of the next two years on items related to school supplies, including clothing, computers and certain other supplies. The holiday is expected to reduce tax revenue by $11 million each year.
Businesses get their own court
The state Supreme Court is directed to establish rules for a pilot program that would create a specialized business court program for commercial disputes. The court would have until Jan. 1, 2019 to establish the rules for the project.
Changes to manufacturing and ag tax credit
Walker is proposing a change that would eliminate an “unintended overlap” that allowed businesses to claim the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit and the taxes paid to other states credit on the same income. The change is expected to increase tax revenues by $9.7 million in fiscal 2018 and 2019.