Hamilton Political Tidbits – November 21, 2014

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Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits
Compiled by
The Hamilton Consulting Group
 Nov. 21, 2014  


For the first time in months, you won't find an elections update or Marquette University poll analysis in Tidbits. The campaign trail dust has settled, and the next legislative session and four years for Governor Scott Walker are underway. The legislature has selected its leadership, freshman legislators are picking their parking spots, and we at Hamilton Consulting are keeping track of things as budget discussions begin.

Capitol babble this week focused on the Department of Transportation's formal budget request (nearly 500 pages), and Hamilton Consulting's new lobbyist, Caty McDermott, has a complete breakdown and analysis on what's inside.


Also in this edition of Tidbits you'll find profiles of four new legislators, information on WEDC's $1.6 million ad campaign, final news from the study committee on TIF, and an introduction to Hamilton Consulting's two newest team members.


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.

DOT Budget: What's Inside?

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) formally submitted its 2015-17 budget request on Friday, November 14. At the center of Sec. Mark Gottlieb's proposal is an aggressive $751.4 million package of new taxes and fees, including a gas tax ($358 million), excise tax on new vehicles ($378.9 million), and a hybrid/electric vehicle fee ($5.7 million). The department's justification for the new taxes and fees is a projected $300 million shortfall in the next budget, which does not include new costs for additional projects, totaling $945.5 million.

DOT Budget: What's Inside? by Hamilton Consulting's Caty McDermott, find a complete breakdown of taxes and fees, GPR transfers, bonding initiatives, notable budget request items, overall spending, other items of interest, and next steps.



Hamilton Consulting Brings on Two New Team Members

Caty McDermott has been working in governmental affairs and policy development for more than nine years, across two states, and in a variety of roles. Prior to joining Hamilton Consulting in 2014, Caty was a grants analyst in the Executive Office at the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. Before joining WHEDA, Caty worked at the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management performing budgeting, legislative analysis, and policy development for several state agencies. Caty received her Master of Public Administration from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in political science and English.

Rebecca Ballweg has been involved in government and politics since the age of 10 and has been working in communications and marketing for the past five years. After nearly a year working as an intern for Hamilton Consulting, Rebecca moved into a full-time communications and marketing position with the firm in September 2014. In this capacity, she has continued to manage the firm's electronic and social media, including website updates, writing and producing Political Tidbits, as well as attending hearings and tracking legislation. Rebecca received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, after two years at the University of Wisconsin - River Falls.

DOA: Agency Requests Exceeds Revenues by $2.2 Billion

Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Administration (DOA) released the general purpose tax revenue estimates (GPR) for Wisconsin's FY 2015-2016 and FY 2016-2017 budgets. According to The Wheeler Report preliminary breakdown, agency budget requests exceed expected revenues by $2.2 billion over the next budget biennium. Also, DOR revenue projections were re-estimated and saw the state's general fund gross balance at the end of FY 2014-2015 would be $132.1 million short.



Get to Know a Freshman

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 reprentatives. In this, as well as upcoming issues, Hamilton Consulting will feature four freshman in Political Tidbits. For the 2015-2016 Wisconsin Legislature, the State Senate has seven new senators (five Republicans, two Democrats), and the State Assembly has 25 new representatives (eighteen Republicans, seven Democrats).

In this edition:
  • State Senator-Elect Devin LeMahieu (R), 9th District
  • State Senator- Elect Janis Ringhand (D), 15th District
  • State Representative-Elect Joel Kitchens (R), 1st District
  • State Representative-Elect David Bowen (D), 10th District


Caucus Leadership Announced

With the election now behind us, the legislature has selected their leadership for the upcoming session.

Top Left: Sen. Scott Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader; 
Top Right: Sen. Jennifer Shilling, Senate Minority Leader; 
Bottom Left: Rep. Robin Vos, Assembly Speaker; 
Bottom Right: Rep. Peter Barca, Assembly Minority Leader

Legislative Preview

2013-2014 State Legislature
2015-2016 State Legislature
17 Republicans, 15 Democrats
19 Republicans, 14 Democrats
60 Republicans, 39 Democrats
63 Republicans, 36 Democrats

Also included in the Legislative Preview:
  • Newly Elected State Senators
  • Newly Elected State Representatives


Study Committee on the Review of TIF Ends Ahead of Schedule

The final meeting of the Study Committee on the Review of TIF, held on November 13, focused on final edits to drafted bill proposals, and how to package the bills when they are introduced in the legislature this upcoming session.


The committee voted on bill drafts related to technical law changes, JRB review and annual reporting, and donor TIDs, in addition to a variety of other bill drafts that can be found on the study committee website. The committee dropped two bill drafts relating to levy limits (WLC 0013) and increasing ration of TID value to total value from 12 percent to 15 percent coupled with allowing one additional TID even in excess of the 15 percent cap (WLC 0016).




UI Trust Fund Has Positive Balance

Wisconsin's Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund will start 2015 with a positive balance, which means there will be a reduction in federal unemployment taxes (FUTA) for employers. FUTA taxes are designed to discourage a negative UI fund balance.


Because unemployment benefits are an entitlement program and must be paid even if the state trust fund is insolvent, states must then either raise the money themselves or borrow from the federal government's share of UI tax revenues.


WEDC Launches $1.6 Million Ad Campaign


The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has launched a marketing campaign that will air in the Chicago and Minneapolis area to advertise Wisconsin as a great place for business.


The campaign will feature radio, print, and online advertisements in the Chicago and Minneapolis markets. Many of these ads will run from now until the spring of 2015. The $1.58 million plan is targeting business leaders, entrepreneurs, and investors, especially with the online campaign. Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, said, "This campaign is strategically designed to reach different audiences in different ways with the same theme: Wisconsin is a great place for companies to do business."




The Future Wisconsin Economic Summit

The Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) will be holding their first ever Future Wisconsin Economic Summit. The summit will focus on Wisconsin in the future, businesses that will survive during that time, and what partnerships can be made now to help the future economy.

FW Forward Thinkers: Why Training is the Key to Competing
FW Forward Thinkers:
Why Training is the Key to Competing



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  • Political Fundraising Calendar - Hamilton's political fundraising calendar allows you to see all of the upcoming fundraising events and import them to your own calendar.
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News Clips 


State revenues for next budget $2.2 billion short of spending requests: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

Two weeks after election, Walker preparing for presidential run: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

MMAC floats idea of sales tax referendum for culture, arts: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 19, 2014.

Johnson won't self-finance 2016 Senate race: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune, Nov. 19, 2014.

Ryan to chair tax panel, a possible 2016 platform: Madison.com, Nov. 18, 2014.

New Ways and Means chair Paul Ryan says Obama immigration move would 'poison the well': Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 19, 2014.

Senator Ron Johnson proposing guest worker program for immigrants: WKOW, Nov. 18, 2014.


Economic Development

Spectrum Brands earnings miss analysts' estimates: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

Brady Corp. earnings pulled lower by restructuring costs: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

New York investor completes purchase of Grand Avenue mall: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

US home sales rise in October: Madison.com, Nov. 20, 2014.

Johnson Controls raises divident 18%: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 19, 2014.

Cost of Thanksgiving is going up, but not by much: Fox11, Nov. 20, 2014.

Dairy Market Review: USDA lowers 2015 milk production: Agri-View, Nov. 19, 2014.

Deadline approaching for local food market development grants: La Crosse Tribune, Nov. 19, 2014.

Wisconsin still facing job headwinds, new report shows: Capital Times, Nov. 18, 2014.

Rockwell Automation sees U.S. factory automation on the rise: Milwaukee Business Journal, Nov. 13, 2014.

Strong growth: Wisconsin agriculture exports climb 17 percent: Fox6Now, Nov. 13, 2014.

Northwestern Mutual funds half of Boston skyscraper refinance project: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 12, 2014.


Utilities & Energy

Dairyland names new CEO; Nick to be utility's first new president since 1990: La Crosse Tribune, Nov. 20, 2014.

Group's study links molybdenum in water to sites with We Energies coal ash: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 18, 2014.

Xcel Energy: Be aware of scams: Chippewa Herald, Nov. 19, 2014.

Power tech company joining M-WERC Energy Innovation Center: Milwaukee Business Journal, Nov. 17, 2014.

Madison company getting additional $5.2 million from Energy Department

: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 17, 2014.

Solar energy co. SunEdison buying wind power co.: Madison.com, Nov. 17, 2014.

Regulators agree to increase fixed charge on We Energies electric bills: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 14, 2014.



EPA honors Kohl's with Green Power award: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 20, 2014.

Waukesha concedes it can't meet deadline for radium-free water: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 19, 2014.

Manure digester referred to DOJ for noncompliance: DeForest Times-Tribune, Nov. 19, 2014.

Group links 'reuse' coal ash to well contamination: Green Bay Press Gazette, Nov. 19, 2014.

DNR Sets New Deer Management Boundaries: WBAY.com, Nov. 19, 2014.

DNR reminds hunters caps must be 50 percent orange: Madison.com, Nov. 19, 2014.

Former Shell Pipeline monitor to plead guilty in airport leak: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 17, 2014.

Explosion rocks North Side storage facility: La Crosse Tribune, Nov. 19, 2014.

Plan to bypass Fox River lock prompts concerns over invasive species: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 17, 2014.

Green efforts at Madison sewer plant backfire, prompt DNR citations: Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 16, 2014.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against DNR Over Bulk Sampling At Penokee Hills Mine Site: WPR, Nov. 14, 2014.

DNR files complaints with DOJ against manure digester: Channel 3000, Nov. 12, 2014.

Public gets chance to weigh in on state's deer management: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 12, 2014.

Keystone pipeline approval bills advance in U.S. Congress: WHBL, Nov. 13, 2014.

Activist groups sue over US-Canada border pipeline upgrade: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 13, 2014.

US-China climate deal aims to prod others to act: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 12, 2014.

Hunters 9 wolves shy of Wisconsin quota: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, Nov. 12, 2014.

DNR creates new software to track runoff potential: La Crosse Tribune, Nov. 10, 2014.



Walker: $751M transportation budget will be changed: Green Bay Press Gazette, Nov. 18, 2014.

DOT plan would study toll roads, fees based on miles driven: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 19, 2014.

Critics of transportation budget pounce on higher taxes and fees: Wisconsin State Journal, Nov. 18, 2014.

Some communities still missing salt; DOT trucks busy finishing road work: WISN, Nov. 18, 2014.

DOT: New fees, tax hikes totaling $750 million needed for roads: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 14, 2014.

DOT meeting focuses on Interstate noise walls, interchanges: Gazette Extra, Nov. 16, 2014.

With exterior done, millions now needed for sinking City Hall: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Nov. 13, 2014.

Gas to average under $3 in 2015, government says: Fox11, Nov. 12, 2014.

County wheel tax hits bump in road: La Crosse Tribune, Nov. 11, 2014.

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