Strategies Newsletter 03/10/2017
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Governor Walker Proposes $800 Million Capital Budget
On February 21, Governor Walker introduced his capital spending plan for the 2017-2019 biennium. Included in the governor’s proposed Capital Budget is $75 million for a new crime lab in Milwaukee, $12.4 million in improvements for the King Veterans Home, $5 million for a science and research incubator in Green Bay, and significant funding for general maintenance of UW System campuses. The governor also deferred funding for four projects requested by UW-Madison.
Updates from Strategies
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Wisconsin Assembly to Continue “Red Tape Review”
The Wisconsin Legislature and governor are continuing in efforts to streamline government agency functions and reduce the touchpoints between state government and Wisconsin businesses across sectors. In 2011, the Legislature enacted and Governor Walker signed into law Act 21, which restricted state agencies’ authority to promulgate and enforce administrative rules. In particular, Act 21 proscribed state agencies from promulgating or enforcing a rule unless the agency has been given explicit statutory authority. In addition, Act 21 restricted state agencies by stipulating that if a statute contains a specific standard, requirement, or threshold, the agency may not promulgate or enforce a rule that contains a more restrictive standard, requirement, or threshold.
State Budget Status Update
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Gov. Walker Introduces Executive Budget
Governor Walker introduced his 2017-2019 executive budget on February 8, at which time it was referred to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC). The budget bill now awaits extensive review and will likely to see significant revision. Before the JFC begins voting to modify the governor’s budget, the Legislative Fiscal Bureau will provide a comprehensive set of “budget papers,” or detailed analyses of numerous provisions included in the budget bill.
Sen. Alberta Darling
Sen. Alberta Darling, the Senate JFC Co-Chair, circulated a memo outlining a tentative timeline for the budget deliberation process. (source: WisPolitics)
Click here to view the memo.
The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their comprehensive analysis of the Governor’s proposed budget. Breakdown of the budget analysis by state agency can be found on the LFB website, here.
Focus on Water
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Focus on Water, Part 2
With the approach of Spring, the high capacity well debate has begun again in Wisconsin. Senate Bill 76, which was authored by Senators Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Roth (R-Appleton), (Majority Leader and President of the Senate, respectively) was introduced and referred to the Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform. The Assembly co-authors include Representatives Tauchen (R-Bonduel) and Nerison (R-Westby), both of whom have deep experience on agricultural policy. There are not currently any democrats signed onto the bill. The bill’s supporters argue that it is critical to the long-term viability of irrigated agriculture in Wisconsin. The ready availability of deep, replenishing aquifers provides Wisconsin a strategic advantage over other states and has resulted in Wisconsin becoming a world leader in potato and vegetable production.
On March 6, the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner Insurance (OCI) issued a bulletin regarding extension of transitional health insurance plans through December 31, 2018.
Per guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, this OCI bulletin allows insurers to renew transitional policies as long as they do not extend past December 31, 2018.
Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) have joined the board of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. WHEDA is an independent state authority that provides low-cost financing for housing and small business development in Wisconsin.
Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services submitted a grant application for up to $15.7 million in federal funding to combat the state’s opioid epidemic. The funding is available through the 21st Century Cures Act and the amount of the grant is based on the unmet need for opioid-related treatment in the state.
Construction and Housing
Out in the Cold: New U.S. Budget Priorities Threaten Housing Aid Programs
Helping struggling Americans out of poverty and giving them greater opportunity is important to Paul Ryan, but there are ideas under consideration by the White House and Congress that could hurt the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, such as big tax cuts and more military spending. Housing advocates warn that these cuts to housing funds would hurt the grant programs that are meant to benefit urban neighborhoods, and ultimately force people out of their homes.
Extraordinary Building Boom is Reshaping Milwaukee’s Skyline
Many exciting things are happening in Milwaukee. The city is currently under an extraordinary commercial development with more than $1.4 billion in projects underway. These projects will change people’s daily lives, as well as create an incredible skyline.
Energy and Environment
Wisconsin Lawmakers Want to Rein in Utility Profits
Legislation has been rolled out to bring in profits from power plants in Oak Creek and Port Washington. The bill would allow the Public Service Commission to review those plants’ rates and give the regulatory agency the opportunity to lower them. If adopted, the bill could actually affect We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric, and WPPI Energy’s profits. It would also lower rates for manufacturers and homeowners, said the sponsors of the bill.
Walker Calls Health Care Bill ‘Important First Step’
The Republican plan in replacing the Affordable Care Act was released earlier this week. While the federal health care overhaul bill remains a work in progress, Gov. Scott Walker said that it’s an important first step. The plan would remove the requirement for people to have health insurance, but continue to allow people under 26 to remain on their parent’s insurance, and forbid insurance companies to deny coverage or charge more to people with pre-existing conditions, two of the popular features under Obamacare.
Scott Fitzgerald Wants More General Fund Revenue for Roads
The interstate between Portage and Wisconsin Dells could be very beneficial for Wisconsin Dells tourism, but by cancelling the project could save $5 million that could go toward studies on WI River bridge reconstructing. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is concerned and would like to spend additional general fund dollars to keep transportation projects on track.
Scott Walker: State Can Match or Exceed $100,000 to Lure Military Planes at Truax
Madison’s Truax Field is one of five National Guard bases that may be selected to house 18 F-35 fighter jets. Two of those will be selected by early next year. With a mindset of selecting the most appropriate place for the jets’ operations as a deciding factor (and not the costs associated), Gov. Scott Walker said the state can match or exceed $100,000 in state taxpayer subsidies to house them at Truax Field.
Can Democrats Turn Activism into Votes? Special Elections Might be a Clue
Normally an election for a Delaware state senate seat wouldn’t get much national attention, but perhaps the Democrat’s win was a result of liberal protests, pointed out party officials. Many think the special election’s high turnout is a “result of frustration with national Republicans and Donald Trump” and an example of how they “are putting their activism into action.” This trend is being seen elsewhere too.
A Special Briefing Direct from Washington, D.C. – The First 180 Days of President Trump and the 115th Congress
Monday, March 20 | MMAC, Milwaukee
Join Michael Best Strategies as they present a window into the first 180 days of the Trump administration and a Republican-led Congress, with key insights and unique understanding of the process, players, and policy affecting tax and trade, energy and environmental regulations, the Affordable Care Act, and immigration. Click here to learn more.
Monday, March 20 | Pyle Center, Madison
Join Michael Best Strategies for a special briefing from Washington, D.C. as they present key insights and unique understanding of energy and environmental regulation matters under a new federal administration and Congress. Hosted by the Wisconsin Public Utility Institute. Click
here to learn more.