"Scott Walker" is the phrase of the week and will be for a while. His buzzworthy performance in Iowa last weekend has created more speculation about his likely run for president and has drawn attention as to his increasing potential as a contender for the Republican nomination. Moreover, as Gov. Walker rolls out parts of his budget, the governor's name has been on the front page all week.
In the lead up to Walker's budget address next Tuesday, the governor's office has released a few budget proposals, which we have highlighted in this week's Tidbits. In addition, the latest revenue projections are in for the current fiscal year and a new constitutional amendment has been introduced to remove the state treasurer from the state constitution. This week, we are introducing a "Bills of Note" section to keep you informed of new legislation.
Finally, a hearing was held this week on the EPA's proposed rule for power plants and Hamilton Consulting has prepared a 5-page brief with all the details on the proposed rule.
There is a lot to cover in this week's Tidbits and there will be more to report as bills are introduced and the budget process gets underway. If you like Tidbits, feel free to forward it to others. It takes 30 seconds to subscribe.
If you wish to receive additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.
|President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address|
|Obama State of the Union 2015 Address: President's [FULL] SOTU Speech Today on 1/20/15|
President Obama gave his penultimate State of the Union address to Congress earlier this month. Highlighting his plan for "middle-class economics," Obama focused his narrative around the Erler family and outlined policies that would positively affect the average middle-class family.
|Walker's State Budget Rolls Out|
On February 3rd, Governor Walker will provide the details of his budget plan in his Budget Address to the legislature. The anticipation surrounding this biennial address is heightened as Legislative Fiscal Bureau's revenue numbers released last week indicate revenues for the current fiscal year are less than earlier estimates. With the steep needs of the Medicaid program, road projects, K-12 education, and the governor's desire to cut more taxes, budget watchers are wondering how Governor Walker is going to proceed with his priorities. And as rumors about his presidential ambitions continue to escalate, Wisconsin political insider's interest in next Tuesday's budget address is rivaling Hollywood on Oscar night.
- Investments for rural Wisconsin
- Workforce readiness plan
- Plans for the UW System
|LFB Releases Updated Revenue and Expenditure Projections|
Last week, Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released updated revenue and expenditure projections for the current fiscal year (FY 2015) and tax collection projections for each year of the biennium (fiscal year 2016 and fiscal year 2017). In November, the Department of Administration estimated a $132.1 million shortfall in the current fiscal year. Recent analysis from the LFB estimates this year's shortfall will increase from DOA's estimate by $151.3 million - for a total projected shortfall in FY 2014-2015 of $283.4 million.
There are several reasons noted by LFB explaining the differences between the two estimates. First, LFB estimates tax collections for FY 2015 to be $173.5 million below DOA's projections. Second, LFB estimates that revenue numbers will be $2.7 million less than assumed by DOA. Third, LFB projects net appropriations will be $24.9 million less than DOA's estimates, which LFB notes is mainly due to a reduction of $18.5 million in debt service payments.
|EPA's Clean Power Brief & Hearing|
On Wednesday, the Assembly and Senate energy committees held a joint informational hearing on EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan rule designed to lower carbon emissions from existing power plants. The committees heard testimony from the Department of Natural Resources, the Public Service Commission, Wisconsin utilities, Clean Wisconsin, and business groups. Read more about the hearing.
|Watch the hearing on WisocnsinEye|
On June 2, 2014, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy proposed regulations to address carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). This proposal, titled the "Clean Power Plan," tasks states with lowering nationwide CO2 emissions from the power sector by 30 percent below 2005 levels. The proposed Clean Power Plan, along with proposed rules for new power plants and modified and reconstructed power plants under section 111(b), are expected to significantly alter the country's power sector. The economic consequences of the suite of proposed power plant rules will be significant for the Wisconsin's economy, and will certainly bring forth legal challenges.
This brief provides background on the proposed rule, a summary of its sections, a survey of economic impact analyses to date, and potential legal challenges.Read the brief...
|Walker Wows in Iowa|
Only a few short weeks after Governor Walker's inauguration, his focus is clearly set on a new goal: The Presidency.
The Governor took another step toward an official entrance into the Republican Presidential primary fray by forming "Our American Revival," a committee that allows him to raise money to explore that new goal.
|Bills of Note|
In this new section of Tidbits, The Hamilton Consulting Group highlights the bills to watch over the coming months, that are of interest to general public or controversial legislation that is just getting started. This week we bring you:
- Deleting the State Treasurer
- Increasing the Speed Limit to 70 mph
Bucks Arena Plan Moves Forward
Among the budget proposals released by Governor Walker this week came the plan for a new Milwaukee Bucks Arena. Governor Walker's plan will give the Milwaukee Bucks $220 million in state bonds once $300 million has been raised from other sources.
|Get to Know a Freshman: Week 6|
As we continue our "Get to Know a Freshman" series, we again bring you information on five incoming legislators. With one of the largest freshman classes ever in the Wisconsin Legislature, it may be harder to get to know the newly elected senators and representatives.
This week, Political Tidbits highlights the following new legislators:
- State Representative Robert Brooks
- State Representative Nancy Vander Meer
- State Representative Beth Meyers
- State Representative Romaine Quinn
- State Representative Lisa Subeck
For the 2015-2016 Wisconsin Legislature, the State Senate has seven new senators (five Republican, two Democrat), and the State Assembly has 25 new representatives (18 Republican, seven Democrat).
|UPDATE: Legislation Chief Justice Selection|
The Wisconsin State Legislature has passed legislation that would potentially change how the Wisconsin Supreme Court chief justice is selected. The proposed amendment will now appear on the spring ballot as a referendum, and if a majority of voters approve it, the state constitution will be amended.
|US Supreme Court Takes Up Judicial Campaign Finance Laws|
State statutes affecting judicial candidates in Wisconsin could be impacted depending on a US Supreme Court decision.
According to the Wisconsin Election Watch, the nation's highest court has taken up Williams-Yulvee v. Florida Bar, a case concerning fundraising appeals for judicial candidates.
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