Finance Committee Update
This week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC)
held its last executive session regarding the
2017-19 biennial budget. During these sessions, members of the committee
debate and vote on specific provisions from Governor Walker's budget
proposal. The goal of these sessions is to improve upon what the Governor
has proposed while taking into consideration public input.
The 2017-19 biennial budget has now been submitted to both the Senate and
the Assembly for approval. If both houses approve the budget, it will go to
Governor Walker's desk for final approval.
JFC's budget leaves $280 million in Wisconsin's rainy
day fund, an additional $14 million in increased revenue, and sets aside
nearly $200 million in the ending balance of the budget. This careful
budgeting will help ensure Wisconsin continues to prosper and succeed.
This week, the JFC also approved the Special
Session bills relating to Foxconn. These have been sent to the Senate
for approval, and then they will go to the Assembly to concur in the Senate
amendments JFC added. Once both houses approve, the final bill will
also go to Governor Walker's desk for final approval.
Here is an update with some of the highlights from the session this week:
Foxconn presents a generational
opportunity for the state of Wisconsin. Construction on the plant alone has
the possibility to create 10,000 jobs, with another 6,000 indirect jobs
possible among suppliers. Once fully operational, the plant will employ up
to 13,000 people and up to another 22,000 in indirect jobs.
The average salary at the plant will be around $52,000 a year, or around $25
an hour. This is well above the minimum wage and means family-supporting
careers for thousands of Wisconsinites. Because of the scale of this
project, suppliers could be from all parts of Wisconsin, including the Fox
Because of past reforms by Governor Walker
and the Republican-led legislature throughout the last several years, we are
in a position to attract, welcome, and retain global companies like Foxconn
On Tuesday, the Committee held an
executive session on Foxconn legislation and looked at a number of
amendments. The amendments that were brought forward were technical
amendments to improve the bill.
Geographic Limit and Hiring Goals for an Electronics and Information
Technology Manufacturing Zone (EITM Zone):
This amendment prohibits the Wisconsin
Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) from allowing a business to
claim EITM zone payroll credits for services performed outside of
This specifies that before WEDC certifies
a business to receive EITM zone capital expenditure credits, it has to
attempt to ensure that the business being certified has sought, and is
seeking, to satisfy hiring goals in Wisconsin.
North-South Corridor Project:
This amendment authorizes $252,400,000 in
general fund-supported general obligation bonds to be used for the I-94
North-South corridor project in southeast Wisconsin. The Department of
Transportation (DOT) cannot expend the proceeds of the bonds unless the
state receives an award of federal moneys for the I-94 North-South
project and submits a request to expend the bond proceeds to JFC.
Department of Transporation (DOT):
The DOT has a biennial budget of nearly
$6 billion and is responsible for Wisconsin's state highways, motor vehicle
regulation, traffic law enforcement, railroads, harbors, water
transportation, transit, and aeronautics.
This week, the committee modified the Governor's budget recommendation for
transportation funding by reducing overall bonding levels by almost $100
million. This brings the overall bonding levels to around $400 million over
The elimination of 200 DOT positions
(many of which are currently vacant) and
using the related funding to support the transportation fund.
Funding to complete a tolling study which
will give future legislatures information regarding the feasibility of
tolling in Wisconsin.
A new fee on hybrid and electric cars to
support $75 million in transportation bonding. This will also ensure
that those who pay less in the gas tax will help to maintain
An additional $10 million for the Local
Bridge Improvement Assistance Program.
Funding for in-vehicle cameras and
tactical vests and helmets for the Wisconsin State Patrol.
Increasing funding for the Harbor
Assistance Program by $3.2 million for a project related to Fincantieri
Bay Shipbuilding in Door County.
The committee also added a number of reforms
to ensure accountability at the DOT for any new revenues received by the
transportation fund. These include:
The repeal of prevailing wage, which is
effective on September 1, 2018.
Reform of the Transportation Projects
Commission, which is responsible for recommending projects for
enumeration. They are directed to study transportation "best practices"
in other states, to recommend projects for denumeration, and to evaluate
the allocation of transportation funds among different highway funding
Department of Public Instruction (DPI) -- Special Needs Scholarship Program:
The Special Needs Scholarship Program (SNSP) allows students with an
individualized education plan (IEP) to attend the public or private school
of their choice. The program, created in the 2015-17 budget, transfers
$12,000 per student to the receiving school to cover the cost of educational
services related to the IEP.
The Committee modified the current program align it more with other school
choice programs by removing the prior year open enrollment requirement, the
prior year public school enrollment requirement, and providing summer school
payments. Both prior year requirements were unnecessary, bureaucratic hoops
families had to jump through to participate in the program. Providing summer
school payments for SNSP brings the program up to speed with the choice and
Finally, the Committee amended the program to allow receiving schools to
receive more than $12,000 per student in the SNSP if the receiving school
shows it incurred additional costs as a result of educating a student
with an IEP. No payment will be less than $12,000, and the ability to receive
additional funds is entirely optional. This change attempts to address the
financial burden that some school districts face and provides students with
special needs with access to open enrollment and the school of their choice.
Department of Revenue (DOR):
DOR advises the Governor and Legislature on tax policy; administers that
state’s tax law, lottery, and unclaimed property program; distributes
property tax relief and local unrestricted aid payments; and oversees
general administration of the property tax system.
Below are the highlights from both tax-related motions.
Shared Revenue, Tax Relief, Local Government and Budget
Partial Property Tax Repeal - Beginning
January 1, 2018, non-manufacturing machinery, tools, and patterns will
be excluded from the personal property tax. To hold municipalities
harmless, the state will provide $74.4M to offset the exemption.
Property Taxes - Provide $48M over the
biennium to keep property taxes below 2014 levels.
Municipal Levy Limit Referenda - Require
more accountability when municipalities hold referenda.
Joint Provision of Local Government
Services - Explicitly allow counties to share services so that services
may be more efficiently delivered to constituents.
Lodging Marketplace Sales and Room Tax
Collections - Expand the applicability of local room tax to owners of
short-term rentals (i.e., Airbnb).
General Fund Taxes, Revenue, Public Finance Authority:
Beginning in 2019, repealed the
alternative minimum tax.
Removed the Governor’s recommended
changes to the earned income tax credit, which would have expanded the
Restored current law for the Historic
Rehabilitation Tax Credit program and modified the program to implement
a $5M per project cap beginning July 1, 2018. The program offers tax
credits to developers for renovating certain historic buildings.
Require DOR to use statistical sampling
when conducting financial audits of small businesses. This will reduce
the burdensome process of audits for businesses that cannot afford the
cost or time of lengthy and demanding audits.
The Committee also adopted a wrap up motion, Motion 421, that included
several technical fixes to previous Committee actions, as well as other items
with support from the Committee and Assembly Republicans.
Here are a few highlights from the motion:
Moved up the previously approved pay
raises for state employees. Employees will now get 2% raises on July 1,
2018, and January 1, 2019. Previously, employees were scheduled to
receive 2% pay raises on September 30, 2018, and May 26, 2019.
Modified previous Committee action to
provide $500,000 for grants to law enforcement agencies to fund
crowd-control training and equipment.
Column: Grant to the Appleton International Airport
This week, the Joint Committee on Finance
adopted a provision we put forward to dedicate $1.7 million toward the
Appleton International Airport for the design and construction of an Airport
Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training facility.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires that each of the more than 500
airports in the U.S. that serve passenger airplanes sends its firefighters
to an annual ARFF training. There are 19 sites nationally that can provide
this type of training. Upon passage of the state budget, there will be 20.
The new site in Appleton will be the only one in the entire Midwest,
including both the Great Lakes and Great Plains regions.
The facility in Appleton has more to boast than just geography, however. Fox
Valley Technical College (FVTC) has a state-of-the-art training center
adjacent to the airport that served 20,000 students from 43 states last year
alone. The existing FVTC firefighting curriculum lays a solid foundation
upon which ARFF curriculum can be expanded. The partnership with FVTC, the
proximity of local businesses directly related to airport fire and rescue,
the lodging and hospitality services of the Fox Cities, and the demonstrated
need for this type of facility in the Midwest, all spell out a fantastic
deal for the state of Wisconsin.
The Appleton area members of the state Assembly are excited to announce this
funding in the budget. The
construction of this ARFF training facility makes Wisconsin the ideal
location for fire and rescue training, and in particular will set the Fox
Valley Technical College and the Appleton community apart as national
leaders in aviation safety.
Six members of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the Fox Cities region lent
their support to the ARFF training proposal. These members are: Rep. Dave
Murphy (R-Greenville), Rep. Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah), Rep. Jim Steineke
(R-Kaukauna), Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), Rep. Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel),
and Rep. Ron Tusler (R-Harrison).
Next Monday, September 11th, will mark the
16th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City,
the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, and the crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
It is important that we continue to remember the events that transpired that
day and the impact it had on Americans and people across the globe.
Thousands of innocent lives were lost on September 11th, and countless
thousands more were impacted. The heroism of many that day will always
outweigh the cowardly deeds of the few. Please join me this Monday in
remembering and paying tribute to those that lost their lives that day.
for Charity Scams in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey & Irma
Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
is urging consumers to do their research before sending money to a charity
claiming to help those affected by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, and
Fake charity schemes will use any available means of soliciting “donations”
— they may make their pitch over the phone, by mail or online. They will
often use names and website addresses that are nearly identical to those of
major established charities, so pay close attention to the wording in a
donation pitch. Keep in mind that most legitimate charity websites end in
“.org” rather than “.com”.
Consider the following tips to protect yourself from charity scammers:
• Watch for social network messages, e-mails, or text messages that claim to
have exclusive information or photos. Clicking on attachments or clicking
links in these communications can expose your computer or phone to malicious
• Look up charities by name at
www.charitynavigator.org or www.give.org.
• Use caution with any charities that popped up since the incident. Research
who will administer the funds, how they will be used and if donations are
• Be leery of high-pressure pitches and requests to wire money.
• Avoid donating cash or wiring money to people or organizations you don’t
• If you are donating via a public fundraising website (often called “crowdfunding”),
review the site’s safety and security policies before making a payment.
While these sites typically have a number of safeguards in place for users,
understand that there is no way to guarantee that the information posted is
completely accurate or truthful.
• If you question the legitimacy of a charity, seek out contact information
for the operation rather than using the contact information provided in the
pitch or search listing.
Under Wisconsin state law, most organizations soliciting for charitable
donations must register and file an annual report with the Department of
Financial Institutions (DFI). To check if a charity is registered, visit the
DFI website or email:
For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer
Protection Bureau at
http://datcp.wi.gov, send an e-mail to
or call the Consumer Protection Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.
If you are interested in learning more about
bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on, please
click here. This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State
Legislative page. Also, if you are interested in viewing my office