Hamilton Political Tidbits – June 8, 2023

Political Tidbits - June 8, 2023
June 8, 2023
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
After Threatening to Pause Budget Votes, Republican Leaders Appear to Reach Shared Revenue Deal with Gov. Evers
Before yesterday’s Assembly session, Republican leadership spoke about the budget process and proposals to change how and how much state revenues are shared with local units of government. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Finance Co-Chair Mark Born said that committee votes on the state budget would stop until a final deal on shared revenue could be reached with Gov. Tony Evers.

According to WisPolitics today, the deal between Republican leaders and Gov. Evers includes the following changes:

  • Remove the referendum requirement and allow the city council and county board to approve the sales tax increases by a two-thirds majority vote
  • Allow Milwaukee County to increase its sales tax by 0.4 percent (originally 0.375 percent)
  • Raise the minimum increase in shared revenue for most counties and municipalities to 20 percent (originally 15 percent)

Bits & Pieces:

  • Record-Breaking Tourism: Gov. Evers and the Department of Tourism say that 2022 was a record-breaking year for Wisconsin’s tourism industry. The state estimates that tourism generated $23.7 billion in total economic impact for the state last year, breaking the previous record of $22.2 billion set in 2019. The department estimates that there were 111.1 million visits to Wisconsin in 2022, up 8.8 million from the year prior.

  • State Rail Plan: WisDOT last month released the final draft of Wisconsin Rail Plan 2050, the state’s long-term plan for passenger and freight rail service. The updated plan is required to keep the state eligible for federal funding. Notably, the plan calls for connecting Madison and Milwaukee via passenger rail and extending the Amtrak Hiawatha line from Chicago and Milwaukee to the Fox Valley and Green Bay. WisDOT head Craig Thompson recently discussed the updated rail plan on a news podcast. In related news, the federal government is providing $570 million for rail crossing safety improvements across the country, including $10 million to replace two at-grade crossings in Eau Claire with overpasses.

  • What Wisconsin Wants… Is the title of a report published last month by the Institute for Reforming Government, a small-government, free-market think tank. The report summarizes the results of 42 listening sessions and data from a statewide poll. The poll found that at least 80 percent of registered voters see drug addiction, mental health, and the costs of health care and child care as significant or somewhat significant problems.
Joint Finance Committee Budget Votes: May 23, 25; June 1
The Joint Committee on Finance of the Wisconsin Legislature continues its work on the 2023-25 state budget, taking votes to reshape the budget as initially proposed by Gov. Tony Evers. JFC has addressed most budget items by approving an “omnibus” motion for each agency.

Senate and Assembly Floor Sessions: June 7
The Senate and Assembly met on June 7 to vote on a variety of bills, resolutions, and executive appointments.

Two Candidates File for AD 24 Special Election
A special election will take place on July 18 to fill the vacant 24th Assembly District. The seat was represented by Rep. Dan Knodl from 2009 until his resignation in May. Two candidates will appear on the ballot, and a primary election will not be held.

WEC Energy Group, Consumer Advocates Negotiating “Ability to Pay” Pilot Program
A utility bill relief program for low-income households could soon be put to the test in Wisconsin. Organizations that advocate for utility customers are working with WEC Energy Group, a large investor-owned electric utility, to develop a pilot program that would cap utility costs at six percent of household income for qualifying families.

News Clips
Utilities & Energy
Employer & Consumer
Transportation & Infrastructure
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