Bills of Note: A Constitutional Amendment and More TIF

Constitutional Amendment to Eliminate State Treasurer Moves Forward

In an executive session on Thursday, the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations passed Assembly Joint Resolution 5, which would eliminate the State Treasurer position from the Wisconsin Constitution. The resolution passed on party-line, 3-2 vote.

At a public hearing in September, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk fully backed the resolution that would completely eliminate his office from state government. Adamczyk testified that he believes the position is a waste of taxpayer dollars, and that former duties of the treasurer are now handled more efficiently by other state agencies.

The State Treasurer’s Office in recent years has had many of its functions transferred into the control of state agencies. The only duty the treasurer has today is to serve on the three member Board of Public Lands, along with the Secretary of State and Attorney General. AJR 5 would give this vacant position to the Lieutenant Governor.

Supporters in favor of the measure say the state can save up to $350,000.

Similar bills have been introduced in the previous six legislative sessions. However, Adamczyk has made the removal of his position easier by eliminating the office’s staff and trimming the office’s duties.

The proposed resolution first must pass both houses of the legislature in two consecutive legislative sessions. The final step in the amendment process will require voters approve the amendment via a statewide referendum.


TIF Bills Considered in Assembly

The Assembly Ways and Means committee held a hearing for numerous bills that are part of the tax increment financing (TIF) bill package. The package comes from recommendations from 2014 Legislative Council Study Committee on the Review of TIF. Some of the highlighted bill recommendations considered at the hearing are listed below.

Assembly Bill 131 – Makes several technical changes including:

– Modifies the industrial zoning requirements to only apply to industrial use tax increment districts;

– Changes the maximum review period the JRB has to approve a resolution on a TID from 30 days to 45 days;

– Amends the notice requirement of the planning commission from a class 2 notice to a class 1 notice when it comes to announcing a notice of amendment;

– Deletes obsolete references in the current statute.

AB 132 – Requires a standing Joint Review Board to be established in order for a TID to be created, and remain in existence during the lifespan of the TID. In addition, this bill modifies annual reporting requirements, incorporates penalties for not reporting annually and repeals the DOR process to review industry-specific town TIDs.

AB 133 – Allows any type of TID to be a recipient TID and use tax increments. In addition, this bill excludes small taxing jurisdictions (such as lake, sanitary, or public inland lake districts) from donating to tax increments and removes these entities from the tax increment calculation.

AB 135 – Removes the restriction that property standing vacant may not comprise more than 25 percent of the area in a TID. In addition, this bill removes the requirement that all municipal owned land within a TID be assessed for property tax purposes and put in the base value calculations.

AB 136 – Increases TID value increments to total equalized value of taxable property in a city or village from 12 percent to 15 percent.

These bills are scheduled to have a committee vote in the Assembly Ways and Means committee on October 21.

The Senate versions of Assembly Bills 131, 132, 133, and 135 have all been passed by the Senate unanimously and have been awaiting consideration in the Assembly. The Senate companion bill to Assembly Bill 136 is available for scheduling for a Senate floor session.

TIF bills yet to be taken up by the Assembly Ways and Means committee include AB 137 and AB 138:

AB 137 – The original bill replaces the October 1, 2015 deadline for declaring a TID distressed or severely distressed to October 1, 2020. However this bill passed unanimously with an amendment which changes the sunset date from 2020 to 2018.

AB 138 – Creates an alternative process for redetermining the base value of a TID. A substitute amendment was offered, which would totally repeal the redetermination changes made 2013 Wisconsin Act 183, and authorizes a local legislative body to request a redetermination any time that a TID is in a decrement situation. Under the substitute amendment, a local legislative body’s ability to request redeterminations under the process created in the substitute amendment must be authorized in the TID’s project plan, and the Joint Review Board (JRB) must approve the project plan but not each specific request for redetermination. The ability of a local legislative body to request multiple redeterminations also must be specifically authorized in the project plan.  Under the substitute amendment, a $1,000 fee paid to DOR would apply to each redetermination. The new provisions created in the substitute amendment for redetermining the base value of a TID in a decrement situation do not apply after December 31, 2018. 

Both AB 137 and 138’s Senate companion bills passed the Senate unanimously.