Back in Session

A formal ball will be the nightcap to the official kickoff of Governor Walker’s second term. The Governor participates in his second Inauguration Day ahead of what appears to be another round of significant reforms.

But there is no dancing around it, most are watching to see how and when he wades into the 2016 race for president. His inner circle will have the difficult task of passing a biennial budget that keeps intact his priorities, does not trigger backlash from potential primary opponents or a refocused talk news circuit, all while working with a more conservative and very energized legislature who may have different priorities. The State of the State Address and budget rollout will happen in the next six weeks, so the Governor’s plans will become clearer very soon. At this point we expect to see state agencies merged, tax reform (cutting property taxes is mentioned as his “top 2015 priority”), and the transportation budget addressed.

Dozens of new legislators being inaugurated today are finding their offices, and their plates are already full with legislative objectives.

While the State Assembly returns in a familiar position of having a large partisan advantage, the State Senate has shifted further to the right with a 19-14 majority, and new senators who are either slightly or significantly more conservative than their predecessors. The first evidence of their strengthened position was seen immediately after the elections in the Senate Majority Leader’s call for “Right to Work” legislation in Wisconsin.  In addition to “Right to Work”, the legislature is already working on a revamp of the Government Accountability Board, education reform, changes to how Wisconsin handles John Doe cases, and public benefits reform.

Floor session in the legislature officially begins this week with bill co-sponsorships already starting to trickle out. The Wisconsin legislature is officially back to work.