As summer slips into fall, we at Hamilton Consulting are preparing for a brand new session in 2015 by tracking election news, state budget requests that will shape the budget bill in January, and following upcoming legislation changes.
In this edition we've rounded up the latest polling news as political forecasters watch Wisconsin's highly competitive gubernatorial election, and we break down on the recent court decision that has put new voter ID law into effect for the November 4th election. Also, we have the full list of legislative proposals the study committee reviewing TIF has asked for, analysis on court decisions affecting campaign finance, and our consultants explain the $1.8 billion structural deficit that has been in the news.
As Election Day moves closer, and final revenue numbers come in, Hamilton Consulting's Political Tidbits will be the place to get the real analysis you need.
|Structural Deficit Pegged at $1.8 Billion but Fluctuating
Following the Department of Revenue report in August on a $281 million tax revenue shortfall for the end of FY14 (June 30, 2014) the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) has re-estimated the "structural deficit" going into the 2015-17 biennium. The structural deficit is a measure of how general fund tax collections in the current 2013-15 budget match up against general purpose revenue (GPR) spending commitments in the next two-year cycle. The structural deficit calculation assumes zero revenue growth and does not take into account any potential reductions in spending appropriations.
|Election Update: Recent Polls Have Positive News for Walker
Directly following a good run of polling for Democratic challenger Mary Burke, Governor Walker has had some consistently positive poll numbers emerge in the latest round.
About a week ago, Mary Burke had taken the lead in Real Clear Politics aggregate, but after the latest Marquette Poll, Governor Walker has retaken a slight lead.
|Federal Court Upholds Voter ID Law
However, the law was still on hold after the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision because Judge Lynn Adelman of the United States District Court (Eastern Dist. of Wisconsin) had previously ruled that Act 23 was unconstitutional and enjoined the law from being implemented.
|Carbon Regulation of Power Plants
Over the past year the Environmental Protection Agency released a suite of three major greenhouse gas rules regulating carbon emissions from new, modified and reconstructed, and existing power plants.
As a resource for decision-makers in Wisconsin, Hamilton Consulting has assembled a resource page for the proposed regulations. The resource page provides links to relevant EPA documents, important court cases and statute, up-to-date news articles and press releases, comments from key stakeholders, and economic and legal analysis.
See the Hamilton Consulting Carbon Regulations Resource Page.
Watch PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak discuss the Carbon Emission Rule Impact on Wisconsin.
|Agency Budget Requests Submitted to DOA
This week, state agency budget requests for the 2015-17 biennial budget were due. The Department of Administration (DOA) and the Governor's Office will now spend the next several months reviewing agency requests and developing recommendations for the Governor on which request items should be included in the next budget bill.
Consistent with budget directions issued to state agencies earlier this year, most of the requests are related to standard budget adjustments and generally reflect the Governor's directive to hold general purpose revenue (GPR) spending at or below adjusted base budget levels or cost-to-continue.
Agency request items, approved by the Governor, form the backbone of the next biennial budget. The Governor's budget initiatives are then added to the skeleton to comprise the budget bill, which will be introduced in January/February of 2015.
|41 Maps and Charts that Explain the Midwest
This week Vox.com released a collection of maps and charts to explain the Midwest to the rest of the nation. The graphics discussed everything from what states are officially considered part of the Midwest, to the geometric formula it would take to actually tip a cow, but Hamilton Consulting had a few favorites:
|Part of Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law Invalidated by Federal Court
Earlier this year, Tidbits reported on a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision (McCutcheon v. FEC) in which the court struck down individual aggregate contribution limits to federal campaigns. In McCutcheon, the law in question limited how much an individual candidate could receive in total from numerous contributors. The Supreme Court held that the law was an unconstitutional limitation on free speech.
TIF Study Committee Moves Towards Possible Legislation
At the most recent meeting of the Legislative Council Study Committee on the Review of Tax Increment Financing (TIF), legislators and public members discussed bill concepts they would like drafted for review prior to the upcoming legislative session. A bill draft does not equate to approval of the concept; the drafts are preliminary and do not necessarily move forward.
The committee discussed the following:
- "But for" Test
- "Blight" Definition
- 12% Rule
- Joint Review Boards
- Levy Limits
- TIDs in Crisis
- Clarity of TIF Statutes
|Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Civil Liability Cases
|3 Wisconsin Cities Top Best Places to Live in US
Livability.com has named its Top 100 Best Places to Live, and Wisconsin tops the list. Madison, Wisconsin was named #1 Best Place to Live in 2015, a move up from #5 on the 2014 list. The list, made up of small and mid-sized cities, are ranked based on amenities available, demographics, economic strength, education, health care, housing, social and civic capital, and transportation. Madison scored high in many of the criteria, but high scores in access to affordable housing and health care, and education and amenities available to citizens got Madison on top.
|Study Committee on Transfer of Structured Settlements
The Legislative Council has convened a summer study committee that has legislators and public members reviewing the transfer of structured settlement payments. The committee has been meeting since late July to hear presentations from Wisconsin and national professionals who handle structured settlement agreements. By late 2014, the committee plans to submit legislation to the Wisconsin State Legislature that would reform state structured settlement statute.
|WEDA Names First Executive Director
The Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA)
WEDA President Patrick Schloss said the organization was looking for a candidate who was "active in economic development" and had a "proven ability to grow an organization and proven leadership to advance a vision."
Doudna served on the WEDA board before, and was Association president in 2010. "I look forward to continuing WEDA's strong legislative, educational and member services programs, and implementing new efforts with our statewide partners that will advance the profession and field of economic development in the state of Wisconsin," Doudna said.
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