Gov. Evers gave his third biennial budget address on February 15, unveiling his 2023-25 executive budget. He proposes an operating budget of $103.8 billion over the next two fiscal years, adding a net 816.55 FTE positions. For comparison, the 2021-23 state budget spent $87.5 billion with a net reduction of 174.19 FTE positions.
The complete budget bill, budget in brief, and other executive budget documents are available here. The governor has also published his prepared remarks and a recording of his address, as well as selected excerpts.
By law, Gov. Evers’ budget will be introduced as a bill in the Wisconsin Legislature. The Joint Committee on Finance (usually Joint Finance Committee, JFC) will spend several months reviewing and altering the proposal. Based on past experience, we expect the following to happen:
- The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) will release a plain-language summary of the budget recommendations in about a month, that is, by the middle of March.
- JFC will hold agency briefings and conduct public hearings on the budget recommendations.
- The co-chairs of JFC will identify non-fiscal policy items and slate them for removal from the budget bill, which should occur roughly by the middle of April.
- JFC will vote, agency by agency, on changes to the budget.
- By June, the full budget should be available for debate and passage by both houses of the Legislature.
Below is an overview of the provisions in Gov. Evers’ budget, separated by issue area. For more information and updates about the budget process, follow our 2023-25 State Budget page.
Energy and Utilities
“Clean Energy” & Climate Change Initiatives
- Provides $10 million for “clean energy” job training and reemployment programs.
- Requires the Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish the social cost of carbon and requires the commission to consider the social cost of carbon when evaluating utility construction applications.
- Allows utilities to securitize the entire remaining unpaid balance of a retiring power plant. Currently, only the unpaid balance of pollution control equipment may be securitized.
- Establishes the Office of Environmental Justice to, in part, perform a climate risk assessment and create a resilience plan for state agencies.
- Requires municipal comprehensive plans, local hazard mitigation plans and community health assessments to address the impact of climate change.
- Provides $5 million GPR over the biennium to support a clean energy small business incubator.
- Establishes the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy and creates a one-time $4 million GPR clean energy grant program.
- Provides $500,000 SEG over the biennium to create a biodigester planning grant program.
- Creates a sales and use tax exemption for property used primarily to store or facilitate the storage of energy produced by a solar, wind, or biogas renewable energy system for an anticipated reduction in tax revenue of $4.2 million over the biennium.
- Establishes a workgroup to develop a “stretch energy code” for Wisconsin.
- Establishes a program to utilize federal funding to further build out Wisconsin’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This action will enable the state to use $17.1 million of federal funding in FY 2023-24 and $17.4 million of federal funding in FY 2024-25, along with potential state funds to allow greater use of electric vehicles throughout the state.
- Modifies current law to explicitly exempt from the definition of a public utility, a nonutility that supplies electricity through an electric vehicle charging station and charges by duration or kilowatt-hour.
- Creates appropriations and associated statutory language to receive and expend funds to execute the National Electric Vehicle Investment (NEVI) Formula program.
- Provides $412,200 over the biennium to fund 2.0 FTE positions providing consumer protection oversight of electric vehicle charging stations.
Other Energy-Related Items
- Allows the Public Service Commission (PSC) to double the funds available to the Focus on Energy program to 2.4 percent of each utility’s annual operating revenues. Currently, Wisconsin utilities are assessed 1.2 percent of their annual operating revenues to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
- Allows PSC to permit discounted utility rates for low-income customers. Currently, this would be prohibited as unduly discriminatory under Wisconsin law.
- Requires utilities to file integrated resource plans with PSC. An integrated resource plan must describe the resources an electric utility could use to meet the service needs of its customers over the next 5-year, 10-year, and 15-year periods.
- Invests $750 million in the broadband expansion grant program, requiring PSC to spend at least $75 million annually on grants.
- Increases the speed threshold and adds reliability and affordability requirements for broadband service in order for an area to be considered “served.”
- Establishes a procedure for internet service providers to challenge a grant award.
- Creates a broadband line extension grant program, funded at $5.25 million, to subsidize the cost of broadband service line extensions to unserved residences.
- Eliminates several statutory restrictions for certain municipalities defined as broadband “unserved” to enable them to directly invest in broadband infrastructure.
- Modifies current law to create a digital equity program supported by the state universal service fund.
Environment and Natural Resources
Conservation and the Stewardship Program
- Repeals the requirement that all Stewardship Program projects north of Highway 64 are subject to legislative review.
- Increases the threshold for legislative review of stewardship projects from $250,000 to $500,000.
- Requires that if a member of the Legislature objects to a proposed stewardship project, that member’s name and nature of the objection be announced publicly.
- Allocates $775,000 in FY 2023-24 for the development of a forestry industry strategic plan and roadmap.
- Provides over $1.3 million annually for various invasive species management programs.
- Allocates roughly $5 million over the biennium for various forest management programs and grants.
- Enacts various PFAS regulatory standards, including requiring the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to establish rules setting acceptable levels and standards for PFAS, and to set criteria for certifying laboratories to test for PFAS.
- Allows DNR to require proof of financial responsibility for remediation and long-term care to address PFAS contamination, as a condition for possessing PFAS.
- Requires a person who generates solid or hazardous waste at a site or facility under investigation by DNR to provide DNR with access to information relating to any transportation to or treatment, storage, or disposal at another site, facility, or location.
- Creates a $100 million grant program to support municipalities responding to PFAS contamination. Eligible activities include PFAS investigation and sampling, provision of alternative water, and long-term removal of PFAS from water supplies.
- Provides an additional $1 million for the continued collection, disposal, and replacement of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.
- Authorizes 10.0 FTE at about $1.5 million over the biennium for DNR staff to study and monitor PFAS in drinking water, groundwater, and air emissions, and to develop standards for PFAS in soil testing, waste disposal, and wastewater treatment.
- Provides several million dollars to increase PFAS testing, sampling, and monitoring at contaminated sites, wastewater treatment facilities, large rivers, and public water supply wells.
- Provides $100,000 annually for PFAS messaging and outreach.
Health and Insurance
Department of Health Services (DHS)
- Expands Medicaid eligibility for parents and adults from 100 percent of the federal poverty line ($27,750 annually in 2022 for a family of four) to 138 percent of the federal poverty line ($38,300 annually in 2022 for a family of four). Medicaid expansion is estimated to generate an additional $1.6 billion GPR over the biennium.
- Includes $1 billion GPR base funding for the Medicaid program that was transferred in the 2021-23 budget to the Medical Assistance Trust Fund.
- Extends postpartum eligibility from 60 days to 12 months ($11.5 million GPR over the biennium).
- Establishes and expands various Medicaid benefits including:
- A Medicaid community health benefit for nonmedical services ($10.1 mil GPR)
- Psychosocial rehabilitation services provided by noncounty providers ($691,900 GPR)
- Coverage of services provided by community health workers ($6.5 mil GPR)
- Coverage of room and board costs for residential substance use disorder treatment ($16.6 million GPR)
- Coverage of telehealth origination costs for schools ($3.6 mil GPR)
- Acupuncture services ($1 million GPR)
- Doula services ($449,300 GPR)
- Expanded coverage of certified peer specialists ($1.3 GPR)
- Coverage of continuous glucose monitoring devices and insulin pumps through the pharmacy benefit ($4.6 GPR)
- Increases payments to hospitals though a rate increase for hospital services, contingent on Medicaid expansion ($23.1 million GPR).
- Increases acute care and critical access hospital payments.
- Increases pediatric supplemental payments ($5.4 million GPR).
- Rate increases for various services including primary care ($64 million GPR, contingent on Medicaid expansion), emergency physician services ($10.9 million GPR), autism treatment services ($4.1 million GPR), and outpatient mental health and substance use disorder services and child adolescent day treatment ($5.7 million GPR).
- Provides $529,200 GPR for an easy enrollment program that allows uninsured individuals to have their income tax returns checked for Medicaid eligibility or eligibility for the health insurance exchange marketplace.
- Maintains a 5 percent rate increase for home and community based services, previously funded with one-time federal assistance ($80 million GPR).
- Provides $30 million to increase the direct care and services portion of capitation rates for Family Care MCOs.
- Provides $30 million for direct care funding for personal care services.
- Includes one-time funding for grant to analyze low-value care in Medicaid and state employee health plans ($1.8 million GPR).
- Invests in Home and Community Based Services, including $44.5 million to develop a minimum fee schedule for HCBS.
- Recommends funding for a complex patient pilot program transitioning from acute care providers to long-term care settings ($15 million GPR).
- Creates a Medicaid pay-for-performance incentive for nonhospital providers participating in a health information exchange ($6.8 million GPR).
Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI)
- Establishes a state-based health insurance marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act
- Requires OCI to establish standards for insurer networks for all health insurance plans offered in the state, such as requiring that a covered service is available within a minimum time and distance of the plan holder.
- Adjusts the office’s base budget to reflect an estimate of reinsurance payments provided to insurers under the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan to pay for high-cost individuals on the federal marketplace exchange.
- Recommends adjusting the spending limit of the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan reinsurance program to reflect changes in the consumer price index for medical care spending, as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.
- Provides $1 million in each year for the office to conduct an analysis and actuarial study for the development of a public option health insurance plan.
- Establishes a Prescription Drug Affordability Review Board to observe practices in the pharmaceutical industry, analyze other state and national prescription drug practices and policies, establish public sector entity spending limits, and set price ceilings on certain prescription drugs.
- Establishes an Office of Prescription Drug Affordability (16.0 FTE) to administer the prescription drug regulatory provisions included in this executive budget and to further analyze and develop policy initiatives aimed at reducing prescription drug costs and increasing affordability.
- Establishes an insulin program and recommends limiting out-of-pocket costs for a one-month supply of insulin to $35 under all health insurance plans offered in Wisconsin.
- Recommends importing generic, off-brand drugs from Canada into Wisconsin.
- Recommends the office conduct a study into the feasibility and effectiveness of coordinating a state-run prescription drug purchasing entity for state and local government payers or purchasers and any additional payers or purchasers that may wish to participate.
- Requires pharmacy benefit management brokers and consultants, pharmacy services administrative organizations, and pharmaceutical sales representatives be licensed to practice in the state.
- Recommends pharmaceutical sales representatives complete continuing education in ethical standards, whistleblower protections, and the laws and rules applicable to pharmaceutical marketing; disclose any contacts made with health care professionals; and disclose any items, including a product sample, compensation, material or gift, that are provided to a health care professional.
- Requires pharmacy benefit managers to owe a fiduciary duty to insurers and other payers with whom they contract to reduce the potential for unnecessary cost increases within the prescription drug market.
- Requires prescription drug cost reductions received from prescription drug manufacturer coupons and other discounts to count toward a plan holder’s deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. Only discounts for brand name drugs that have no generic equivalent and brand name drugs that have undergone prior authorization by a prescriber or the insurer are eligible in order to avoid incentivizing the purchasing of more expensive brand name drugs over their generic equivalents.
- Requires pharmacy benefit managers and other third-party payers to reimburse certain federal 340B drug discount program participants for prescription drug purchases at the same rate that non-340B program participants are reimbursed to end discriminatory reimbursement practices.
- Establishes parity provisions to ensure patients utilizing telehealth services are not charged or have their services limited any more than if they utilized an equivalent in-person service to increase the availability and affordability of telehealth services.
- Requires regulation of balance billing practices.
- Modifies the initial and aggregate plan duration for short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans from 12 months to 3 months and from 18 months to 6 months, respectively.
- Requires insurance plans to cover substance use disorder counselors, infertility treatments, and services provided by qualified treatment trainees.
Sales Tax and Shared Revenue
- Replaces the shared revenue appropriation with a dedicated revenue stream consisting of 20 percent of state sales tax collections ($576.2 million GPR in FY 2024-25). The revenue would fully fund the state’s existing aid payments to local governments while providing increases to the public safety and general aid appropriations.
- Allows municipalities with a population over 30,000 and all counties (regardless of population but excluding Milwaukee) to each impose an additional 0.5 percent sales tax.
- Allows Milwaukee County to impose an additional sales tax of up to 1.0 percent, with revenue divided evenly between the city and county.
Individual Income Tax Credits
- Creates a nonrefundable, 10 percent income tax credit for single filers at $100,000 or below and married-joint filers at $150,000 or below, reducing state income tax revenue by $839.6 million over the biennium.
- Increases the state’s earned income tax credit by allowing filers with one dependent child to claim 16 percent (currently, four percent) of the federal credit on their state taxes and allowing filers with two children to claim 25 percent (currently, 11 percent).
- Expands the state child and dependent care tax credit from 50 percent of the federal credit to 100 percent.
- Creates a caregiver tax credit equal to 50 percent of the qualifying expenses incurred by those providing care or support to adult family members requiring assistance with one or more daily activities, limited to $500 in a tax year.
- Repeals the personal property tax and provides $202.4 million in FY 2024-25 to reimburse local taxing jurisdictions for lost revenue, linking future reimbursements to the rate of inflation.
- Increases the refundable share of the research tax credit for businesses from 15 percent to 50 percent beginning in tax year 2024.
- Limits the applicability of the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit to the first $300,000 in qualified production activities income. Does not alter the agricultural portion of the credit. Raises $655.1 million over the biennium.
- Limits the state’s 30 percent long-term capital gains tax exclusion to individuals with incomes below $400,000 and married-joint filers with incomes below $533,000, raising $339.4 million over the biennium.
Property and Other Taxes
- Increases the maximum eligible household income under the Homestead Credit from $24,680 to $35,000 and restores indexing for the credit, reducing property tax revenue by about $100 million.
- Expands availability of the Veterans and Surviving Spouses Property Tax Credit to renters and lowers the qualifying threshold to those with disability ratings in excess of 70 percent. Reduces property tax revenue by $53.5 million over the biennium.
- Adopts federal tax changes that would exempt Wisconsinites receiving federal student debt relief from paying state income tax on the amount of that relief. Adopts most of the major remaining provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, raising $388.2 million over the biennium.
- Adds $50 million to the Tourism Capital Investment Grant Program.
- Provides $35 million in additional annual funding to continue to promote Wisconsin as a premier business, cultural, and recreational destination in the country.
- Establishes a permanent Office of Outdoor Recreation.
- Creates a new Meetings, Conventions and Sports Bureau to promote Wisconsin as a prime destination for meetings, business and organization conventions, and sporting events.
- Creates an opportunity attraction and promotion fund, with $20 million annually, that will assist the department in recruiting and promoting large-scale events in Wisconsin.
- Provides additional Arts Board funding.
- Directs an amount calculated from the state sales tax generated by the sale of electric vehicles to the transportation fund.
- Directs a portion of the state sales tax on the sale of auto parts, tires, and repair services to the transportation fund.
Local Roads and Services
- Increases general transportation aids for both counties and municipalities by 4 percent in calendar year 2024 and another 4 percent in calendar year 2025.
- Increases state support of mass transit aids by 4 percent in calendar year 2024 and calendar year 2025. Also increases funding to programs supporting transportation for the elderly and people with disabilities, paratransit, and employer-sponsored commuting options.
- Restores the ability of cities, villages, and towns to use eminent domain to build pedestrian and bike paths.
- Allows local governments to establish regional transit authorities as they deem necessary for the benefit of their residents.
- Adds $77 million to the State Highway Rehabilitation Program.
“Safe Streets” Policy
- Provides $60 million over the biennium for traffic calming grants to construct traffic circles, pedestrian islands, bump-outs at crosswalks, and other treatments that slow vehicle traffic.
- Restores previously repealed roadway design considerations in state law known as “complete streets,” which requires the Department of Transportation to refuse state and federal funds to highway reconstruction projects that do not include bicycle and pedestrian routes.
- Provides 35.0 FTE positions for additional state troopers and 10.0 FTE positions for motor carrier inspectors.
- Allows individuals who are in the country illegally to apply for and receive a state driver license.
- Requires courts to order the use of an ignition interlock device for all offenses involving the use of alcohol and operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, including first-time offenders.
- Increases the seatbelt violation penalty from $10 to $25.
Supply Chain Investments
- Authorizes $16 million in bonding for dredging, seawall reconstruction, and other projects associated with the Harbor Assistance Program.
- Authorizes $20 million in bonding for the Freight Rail Preservation program.
Workforce and Economic Development
Child Care and the Department of Children and Families (DCF)
- Invests in the Child Care Counts program ($302 million GPR and $38 million TANF).
- Align Wisconsin Shares with federal requirements to calculate subsides for full-time/part-time, including waiving copayments for the state’s highest need families under 100 percent of the federal poverty level ($124 million TANF)
- Includes funds for the Partner Up program for businesses to purchase child care slots ($22.3 million GPR).
- Establishes a new child care provider grant program ($5 million TANF).
- Increases funds for Family Foundations home visiting programs ($5 million GPR).
- Includes funds to support intensive in-home and out-of-home services ($33 million GPR).
Department of Workforce Development (DWD)
- Creates a paid family and medical leave program that provides 12 weeks of benefits for qualified employed and self-employed individuals. Specifies that benefits will first be paid beginning January 1, 2025, and that employers with at least 50 employees are required to participate in the program.
- Expands current state family and medical leave laws to include many more conditions and situations under which an employee can take leave.
- Repeals prevailing wage, right to work, project labor agreements, and local preemptions related to employment law.
- Creates a new agency equity officer position within the secretary’s office.
- Increases the minimum wage three times until 2026, ending at $10.25 per hour, then creates a task force to study a $15 minimum wage requirement.
- Provides $100 million to continue the workforce innovation grant program.
- Provides more than $50 million for healthcare workforce initiatives, including $22.5 million for an innovation grant program for healthcare employers, $10 million for the Wisconsin nurse educator program, $8 million for the long-term care career program, and $7 million to establish a new psychiatry residency program.
- Allocates $20 million for teaching workforce initiatives, including $9.4 million for stipends to student teachers or interns and $5 million annually for local teacher recruitment and development initiatives.
- Provides $12 million for the worker advancement initiative.
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
- Allocates $50 million to continue the Main Street Bounceback grant program, which was created by Gov. Evers and funded with one-time federal COVID-19 assistance. Also includes $5 million for technical assistance, mentorship and educational training for grant recipients.
- Provides $25 million in grants to aid businesses in newly occupying or expanding into vacant commercial spaces.
- Creates a venture capital program located at WEDC with $75 million in one-time GPR funding in a continuing appropriation in FY 2023-24, structured as a “fund of funds” investment program.
- Provides $5 million to support talent attraction and retention efforts.
- Creates a new earnings activity for the business development credit for energy efficiency and renewable energy project expenditures by a business.
- Creates a new private cause of action for broadband service denial based on the race or income of a group.
- Creates new private causes of action for employment discrimination, unfair honesty testing, or unfair genetic testing.
Department of Justice
- Expands the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Program ($13.5 million GPR).
- Establishes a grant program for law enforcement recruitment, retention and wellness ($10 million GPR).
- Includes language to allow law enforcement agencies to hire legal noncitizens as officers.
- Provides additional funding to support criminal investigations ($1.7 million GPR).
- Establishes a grant program for community policing and prosecution programs ($10 million GPR).
- Provides one-time funding for pay progression for assistant attorney generals ($2.6 million GPR).
- Includes increased funding to reimburse counties for eligible costs for crime victims and witnesses ($11.7 million GPR).
- Provides additional funding and positions for the Office of School Safety.
- Includes language creating an extreme risk protection injunction procedure.
Department of Corrections
- Includes language limiting the use of restraints on pregnant and postpartum people in correctional facilities and providing them access to certain tests, materials, services and information.
- Expands available options for residential community alternatives to revocation by 100 additional beds ($6.6 million GPR).
- Provides authority to reimburse local governments for law enforcement investigative services provided at correctional institutions.
- Spends $2.6 billion on general and categorical aids for public schools, including $1 billion over the biennium through the state’s general equalization aid formula.
- Freezes enrollment in the state’s private school voucher programs. Provides per pupil payment increases of $374 in FY 2023-24 and another $695 in FY 2024-25 for independent charter schools and schools participating in a parental choice or special needs scholarship program.
- Grants districts a sizable increase in revenue-raising authority, with per pupil revenue limit increases of $350 in FY 2023-24 and an additional $650 in FY 2024-25, a combined increase of $1,000 per pupil over the biennium.
- Provides more than $1 billion in special education aid, reaching 60 percent state funding rates for both special education aid and high-cost special education reimbursements.
- Creates a school breakfast and lunch grant program funded at $120.2 million in FY 2024-25.
- Legalizes the sale of marijuana for medical and recreational use. Creates a marijuana retail permit program. Imposes a 15 percent wholesale excise tax and 10 percent retail excise tax on the sale of marijuana for recreational use.
- Repeals the application of the Unfair Sales Act (“minimum markup”) to the sale of motor fuel.
- Under current law, courts are prohibited from giving deference to agency interpretations of law and agencies are prohibited from seeking such deference from a court. Repeals these prohibitions.
Voting and Election Law
- Provides $172,700 for the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and $349,000 to the Department of Transportation to implement automatic voter registration.
- Restores two previously repealed state laws: requiring all public high schools to offer voter registration for enrolled students and allowing private and Tribal high schools to do the same; allowing residents to vote in an election in a municipality or ward if the voter has been a resident for at least ten consecutive days before an election.
- Eliminates the restriction on how soon a person may complete an absentee ballot in-person.
- Modifies the state voter identification law to match current court rulings and requires the public university and technical college systems to issue voting-compliant identification cards.
- Allows local clerks to canvass absentee ballots on the day before an election.
- Modifies the scheduling of special elections to guarantee sufficient time to send ballots to military and overseas voters.
- Creates a sum sufficient GPR appropriation for WEC to reimburse counties and municipalities for certain costs incurred from special elections.
- Allows WEC training funds to be used to train local clerks on all aspects of election administration, in addition to voter identification requirements.
- Creates an office of election transparency with 10.0 FTE, funded at $2 million over the biennium, to improve audits on voting equipment, databases, and other voting information.
Housing, Rental Policy, and Civil Legal Aid
- Provides $100 million to create a municipal grant program for renovating and restoring blighted residential properties.
- Provides $5 million for a rental housing safety grant pilot program in Milwaukee and $7.25 million for a pilot program for whole-home upgrades within the city aimed at energy efficiency and healthy living.
- Modifies landlord-tenant responsibilities, including limiting the types of information a landlord may obtain about a tenant, imposing requirements and enforcement on inspections, requiring certain disclosures by landlords to tenants and municipalities, and imposing moratoriums on eviction.
- Requires landlords to disclose a building or housing code violation to a prospective tenant, regardless of whether the landlord has actual knowledge of the violation.
- Expands civil legal aid, including in eviction proceedings, by creating a new civil legal assistance program for low-income individuals funding at $60 million over the biennium. Establishes a statewide right to counsel for evictions, while also allowing civil legal services to be used in unemployment compensation, consumer law, domestic violence, and health insurance matters. Also expands the DCF civil legal assistance program by $1 million over the biennium to include legal services related to evictions.
- Provides various new and increased appropriations for veterans services, including the state veterans homes, education, employment, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and the Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemeteries.
- Establishes Veterans Day as a state holiday.
Brewers Stadium Funding
- Makes a one-time allocation of $290 million to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, which operates American Family Field (formerly Miller Park), the home of the Milwaukee Brewers professional baseball team. The funds would be used to maintain, repair, and improve the park, in part to encourage the team to remain in Wisconsin. Currently, the team’s lease at American Family Field expires at the end of the 2030 baseball season.
- Fiscal Year (FY): The state of Wisconsin uses a biennial budget with fiscal years beginning July 1. The next budget will address FY 2023-24 and FY 2024-25.
- Full-Time Equivalent (FTE): The state budgets for staff positions based on the amount of work equivalent to a full-time employee working 2,080 hours per year.
- General Purpose Revenue (GPR): The primary state revenue fund, derived from sources such as the income and sales taxes.
- Segregated Funds (SEG): Revenues set aside for specific purposes, such as the state gas tax revenues used for roadbuilding.
- Program Revenue (PR): Revenue derived from fees collected for government services.