Hamilton Political Tidbits – October 21, 2016

October 21, 2016 - Political Tidbits
Hamilton Consulting Group
 October 21, 2016
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
Election day is approaching fast, and this week's Tidbits is filled with the latest updates on local and national races. In this edition, we examine key Assembly races and provide an update on the most recent Marquette Poll. This week's Tidbits also covers the release of the state's 2016 Fiscal Report, an update on the broadband and recidivism legislative study committees, and the governor's announcement for increased local road funding. Read these stories and more below!
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.

Can a Democratic Wave Hit the Wisconsin Assembly?

In 2010, Republicans nationwide swept Democrats out of state houses, and Wisconsin's state Assembly was no different. Wisconsin Assembly Republicans went from the minority to a commanding majority in one fell swoop following the 2010 elections, picking up 15 seats across the state. A majority that, while ushered in by a wave, has expanded over the last two election cycles and now sits at a remarkable 63-36 advantage.

No one foresees a similar scenario taking place in 2016 that would swing the pendulum decisively the other way, but, with voter turnout in 2016 being a wildcard for a number of reasons, Assembly Democrats have an opportunity to shrink their deficit. Can they take advantage of Republican party discord at the top of the ticket, or have Assembly Republicans insulated themselves from any down ballot fallout?

Marquette Law Poll: Trump Loses Ground on Clinton, Feingold Lead Narrows
The latest Marquette University (MU) Law School Poll was released on Oct. 12, 2016. The results showed Hillary Clinton's lead increasing over Donald Trump, while Russ Feingold's lead over Sen. Ron Johnson narrowed. Gov. Scott Walker and President Obama's job approval ratings remained largely the same.
In a head-to-head matchup, 46 percent of likely voters supported Hillary Clinton and 42 percent supported Donald Trump, putting Clinton up two points from a 44-42 percent matchup in late September.
In the four-way race between Trump, Clinton, Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, In the most recent poll, Clinton increased her lead over Trump by four points, from a 41-38 percent matchup in September. Clinton received 44 percent of likely voters, Trump 37 percent, Johnson nine percent and Stein three percent.

State Senator Rick Gudex Passes Away at 48

Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac),the 48-year-old Republican representative of the 18th Senate District of Wisconsin, passed away on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. The Fond du Lac County sheriff's office announced that their preliminary investigation found the cause of death to be from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Elected officials across the aisle and throughout all levels of government expressed sorrow at the news of the tragedy, with many commenting on the exemplary record of Gudex. Gov. Scott Walker released a statement commemorating Gudex, writing, "Rick was a good man who served his community and state well, and he will be missed."

Walker Announces Budget Increase for Local Roads

On Oct. 13, 2016, Gov. Scott Walker announced his plan to increase local road funding by 8.5 percent in his 2017-2019 budget for the local road improvement program and general transportation aids.
Walker's release stated his budget would invest an additional $14.6 million in to general transportation aids. Combined with the nearly $9 million increase requested in the DOT's budget proposal, this totals a $23.5 million increase for local roads and bridges.

State Ends the 2016 Fiscal Year with $313.8 Million Balance

On Oct. 17, the Department of Administration released the 2016 Annual Fiscal Report. The report shows the state ended the 2016 fiscal year (FY) with a general fund balance of $313.8 million. According to the report, in 2016 general purpose revenue (GPR) taxes totaled $15.097 billion. Expenditures for FY 2016 totaled $15.3 billion, a drop from the FY 2015 total of $15.5 billion. Spending for K-12 education continues to be the state's largest expenditure, totaling $5.2 billion in FY 2016.

Legislative Study Committees Update

Each interim summer, the Wisconsin Legislative Council provides legal and policy support to the study committees established by the Joint Legislative Council. This year, there are seven legislative study committees, which are comprised of legislators and public members.

Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment

Chaired by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), the Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment, has convened multiple times over the last several months, with the most recent meeting held on Oct. 19. The committee focused on evidence based strategies to decrease recidivism, examined earned-time credit systems, and impediments to assist with reacclimating to society, including medical assistance enrollment and workforce training.

Study Committee on Rural Broadband

The Legislative Study Committee on Rural Broadband was created in response to the lack of broadband access throughout parts of Wisconsin. This lack of access has become a priority for legislators because people who live in areas with little or no broadband lose valuable opportunities related to the delivery of goods, services and education.  With this in mind, the members of the committee were charged to review the Wisconsin Broadband Grant Program that exists to encourage development of broadband infrastructure in Wisconsin.

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News Clips
Congressional candidates talk issues: Superior Telegram, October 21, 2016.
Early voting on the rise in Janesville: Janesville Gazette Xtra, October 21, 2016.
Paul Ryan's donations to state GOP reach $1 million: Wisconsin State Journal, October 21, 2016.
Trump outpaces Clinton in Wisconsin TV ads: Wisconsin Public Radio, October 20, 2016.
Baldwin on the VP list, email says: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 19, 2016.
Super PACs drop millions to target Russ Feingold: Wisconsin State Journal, October 18, 2016.
Utilities and Energy 
Dog attacks by wolves on the rise: Superior Telegram, October 21, 2016.
Flooded Wisconsin counties to get federal help, governor says: Wisconsin State Journal, October 20, 2016.
Advocates support revising but continuing Great Lakes plan: Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, October 20, 2016.
DNR ends board dinners under open records scrutiny: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 19, 2016.

Economic Development
State may expand funding for dairy farm digesters: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 20, 2016.
Casino expansion raises objections: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 19, 2016.

Trump and Clinton on toll roads: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 20, 2016.
Driver-screening firms draw scrutiny: Wall Street, October 19, 2016.
Transportation funding still a statewide concern: Sun Prairie Star, October 18, 2016.

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