Exclusively for WisPolitics Subscribers
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Quotes of the week
- Political stock report
- Hitt says GOP’s 2018 postmortem shows need for grassroots focus
- Opioid, meth epidemic straining child welfare services
- GOP’s Stalker says he wants to offer alternative message in heavily Dem 64th AD
- Nygren, Darling defend Foxconn deal amid conflicting reports over company’s future
- Profile: Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan
- Week ahead
- Political TV
- Names in the news
- Lobbyist watch
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
Because of recent media reports, I also want to clarify aspects of the conversation from our March meeting. At that meeting, you indicated that Foxconn intends to suggest several changes to the existing agreement to better align the terms with the evolving project and global marketplace.
– Dem Gov. Tony Evers in a letter Foxconn executive Louis Woo asking him to clarify that Foxconn was the first to suggest changes to its contract with the state. He also wrote that Woo briefed Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on the company’s intention to seek contract revisions.
I met with Louis Woo for thirty minutes, and there was no discussion about opening up the contract for renegotiation, just general discussion about Foxconn’s expansion and growth. This contract is solid — if the job growth and investment doesn’t come, the state doesn’t pay.
– Fitzgerald, R-Juneau.
Why are the mainstream media allowing @GovEvers to try and create the impression that #Foxconn wanted to change their job goals or tax incentives? #nottrue
– Vos, R-Rochester, in a tweet.
Representative Vos’ efforts to mislead and misinform are both embarrassing and counterproductive. His failure to disclose dealings with Foxconn on possible contractual changes proves that he is not serious in wanting to work with this Administration.
– Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
I think we need to take a deep breath and say tax credit is important, but we don’t make decisions based solely on tax credits.
– Alan Yeung, Foxconn’s U.S. director of strategic initiatives, speaking with WISN. He said the company is still aiming for 13,000 jobs and Foxconn remains “unwavered in our commitment” to the state. Earlier, Yeung, in a tweet featuring several emojis, responded to a news report quoting Evers saying Foxconn was unlikely to meet the hiring target: “Calm down. Probably fake news … Who has the crystal ball … to predict if 13,000 jobs will be created by the year 2032? Esp in April ’19.” See the tweet: ” >https://twitter.com/alansyeung/status/1121209484234448896
It’s not possible. … We don’t have that kind of money. … unless you want to have a structural deficit or raise taxes, and we’re not going to do that.
– Senate Education Committee Chair and JFC member Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, on Evers’ proposed $212 million special education infusion. Olsen said he backs Evers’ per-pupil revenue cap increases and a 30 percent rate on special ed reimbursement.
They are turning their backs on their local school districts. We have enough money to pay for this. They’re saying no because it’s Tony Evers and not Scott Walker.
– JFC Dem Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point.
It’s one of the top issues I hear from constituents the most–the shabby condition of many of our local roads.
– Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, who is drafting a bill to set aside $36.5 million in taxes due on a West Allis Powerball winner’s prize for local road fixes.
Something of that substance, no pun intended, needs a much larger conversation than being stuck into a 2,000-page document.
– JFC Co-chair Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, saying during a WisPolitics.com luncheon that Evers’ plan to legalize medical marijuana and decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot won’t make it into the final budget. Fellow JFC Co-chair Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said under Evers’ decriminalization proposal “manufacturing would be made legal and distribution may be made legal.” She described it as “off-the-wall scary.”
*Read more from the luncheon in an item below.
Instead of playing politics and talking about coups and walls, Trump and Wisconsin Republicans should explain why they are trying to take away health care from thousands across the state.
– U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, speaking on a conference call about a new survey from Dem firm Public Policy Polling that found a majority of Wisconsin voters trust Dems over President Trump on health care ahead of Trump’s visit to Green Bay on Saturday. See the poll results: ” >https://www.protectourcare.org/poll-majority-of-wisconsin-voters-reject-trump-and-republican-health-care-agenda-putting-trumps-re-election-prospects-in-badger-state-in-doubt/
POLITICAL STOCK REPORT
–A collection of insider opinion–
(Apr. 20-26, 2019)
Legal bills: GOP lawmakers, Gov. Tony Evers and the Election Commission have already racked up $779,000 in costs for private attorneys since Jan. 1, most of that for the lame-duck lawsuits, according to bills WisPolitics.com obtained through an open records request. And the cost to taxpayers for private attorneys is only going to climb higher. Along with several extraordinary session lawsuits still winding their way through the courts, Republican legislative leaders have approved additional private attorneys to represent them in two environmental cases going to the state Supreme Court — with no cap on expenses in the contract. GOP legislative leaders moved in 2017 to hire their own attorneys in the redistricting lawsuit even with fellow Republican Brad Schimel in the AG’s office. But those contracts with private attorneys have ticked up since Dem Josh Kaul took over as the head of the state Department of Justice. Legal bills WisPolitics.com obtained show costs in three lawsuits filed over the lame-duck session have already eclipsed $400,000 for lawmakers since Jan. 1. Two of those cases involve Dane County rulings that overturned actions in the GOP extraordinary session but are now before the state Supreme Court; the third is in federal court. Evers meanwhile, has received invoices so far totaling $71,985 for the private attorneys representing him in the lame-duck lawsuits, and attorneys for the Elections Commission have turned in invoices for $13,477 to get the agency dismissed from one of the cases. Meanwhile, Virginia attorneys have turned in $28,375 in bills to date as Republicans sought to intervene in a federal lawsuit challenging abortion restrictions. The contract GOP lawmakers signed with the Virginia law firm Consovoy McCarthy Park to represent them included a rate of $500 an hour for all attorneys and two caps on the expected legal fees. If the court denied the Legislature’s motion to intervene, the costs would go no higher than $100,000. But if the motion had been granted, they could climb as high as $500,000. A federal judge rejected GOP lawmakers’ request to intervene this week, and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, says a decision hasn’t been made on whether to appeal. Lawyers for GOP lawmakers have also turned in more than $260,000 in legal bills since Jan. 1 for their ongoing work on the redistricting suit. Meanwhile, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization votes along party lines to approve hiring outside counsel to represent the GOP-led Legislature before the state Supreme Court in the two environmental suits. One deals with the DNR’s decision to allow a Kewaunee County dairy farm to expand to more than 6,000 cows in an area where concerns have been raised over groundwater pollution. The other addresses the agency’s approval of eight high-capacity wells. The JCLO ballot doesn’t include details of the possible costs to taxpayers for the attorneys, only stating the committee co-chairs — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton — will “approve all financial costs and terms of representation.” And the contract, supplied to WisPolitics.com, only includes a range on the hourly rate paid to those who will work on the case with no overall cap on costs. Husch Blackwell partner Eric M. McLeod writes in the contract those in his position are paid between $310 and $820 an hour, while associates make $215 to $420. The contract includes ranges for other positions of staff who might work on the case with the firm recommending use of them “as we in our professional judgment believe is appropriate,” though subject to the Legislature’s approval. Senate Minority Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, calls the latest hire of outside counsel ridiculous and charges GOP leaders want to “continue picking petting political fights on the taxpayer’s dime” rather than making sure Wisconsinites have clean drinking water. But in defending the legal bills, Fitzgerald and Vos knock Kaul, saying he has chosen to “abandon his promise” to defend state statutes, forcing the Legislature to “step up.” They add, “We didn’t pick the fight over the extraordinary session or redistricting, liberal activists did. State law must be defended.”
*Read the latest contract:
Presidential campaign visits: Cory Booker is the latest Dem candidate to swoop into Wisconsin, and President Trump is skipping the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in favor of a rally with backers in Green Bay. Insiders see some easy explanations why. On the Dem side, there’s a symbolism to the visits by Booker, Bernie Sanders, Julian Castro, Amy Klobuchar and Beto O’Rourke. One, after Hillary Clinton was pilloried for failing to visit Wisconsin after winning the party’s nomination in 2016, Dems are sending a signal they won’t take the state for granted again. Two, Wisconsin, home of the Democratic National Convention next year, is a key piece of the “blue wall” that includes Michigan and Pennsylvania. Dems need the three states if they are to retake the presidency in 2020. What’s more, trips to Wisconsin are a chance for Dem candidates to make early fundraising contacts in the state. For the president, the equation is just as simple. Crumbling the blue wall was a key piece of his surprise 2016 election, and he’s likely going to need all three to recreate that success. Trump’s campaign has talked about expanding the map in places such as Minnesota, Colorado and Virginia. But many national pundits think that could be a stretch. Instead, they believe Trump’s best bet is to shore up the states that pushed him past 270 electoral votes three years ago. And if Trump has any hope of putting Wisconsin in his column again next year, the Green Bay market is a good place to start, insiders say. He’ll need to run up the score in the Green Bay and Wausau markets next fall. Election watchers say the next piece of the equation is improving his standing in the WOW counties — Waukesha, Ozaukee and Washington. Not only did Trump underperform there three years ago, but insiders believe his caustic brand of politics has left a lasting mark with some suburban voters — particularly college-educated women — when it comes to the GOP brand. Scott Walker saw his numbers drop there last fall as he lost his reelection bid. And while conservative Supreme Court candidate Brian Hagedorn hit his traditional GOP marks there earlier this month, insiders believe next fall’s race will be much different. How he navigates that challenge could be another key to whether Trump is successful here next fall, insiders say.
Andrew Hitt: Brad Courtney led the state GOP through eight years of Scott Walker as guv. In that span, he helped defeat a 2012 recall attempt of the guv and flipped the state to red in the 2016 presidential election before seeing Dems sweep the 2018 races. His successor is now charged with leading the party back from last fall’s losses — and without someone in the East Wing to make fundraising easier. The state GOP Executive Committee selecting Hitt to become the next chair was no surprise. He had been serving as the party’s first vice-chair before he was elevated to interim chair last month after Courtney stepped down. He also was unopposed in seeking to fill the remainder of Courtney’s term, which will put him in position to lead the party through the 2020 elections. Hitt, a partner and chief operating officer with Michael Best Strategies, was first elected to the party’s executive committee in 2016, when he became treasurer. He previously served in various roles with former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, including deputy legal counsel. And one of his first tasks as chair will be implementing the findings of the postmortem the party did after the 2018 elections, when Dems swept all statewide races. Hitt tells WisPolitics.com the focus will be reenergizing the party’s grassroots, which he credits with helping conservative Brian Hagedorn win this month’s state Supreme Court race. He’ll also have to jump into fundraising with Wisconsin looking like one of the key states in the 2020 presidential race and into building an infrastructure to help Donald Trump try to recreate his 2016 success.
Tip McGuire: The Dem outraises GOP rival Mark Stalker 6-to-1 in the pre-election period, with the state Dem Party kicking in some serious help on his ground game. Now Dems better hope it pays off as they look Tuesday to retain the Kenosha-area seat of Peter Barca, who resigned to join the Evers administration. McGuire, an assistant Milwaukee County DA and former legislative aide to Barca, reports raising $88,755 between March 19 and April 15 and spending $82,381 over that period. Add in what he raised ahead of winning a contested primary, and he’s pulled in $125,042 in the race for the 64th AD. By comparison, Stalker, who spent several decades in the paint business, has raised $16,952 between Jan. 1 and April 15. And the bulk of that was in the final four weeks of that period as the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee pitched in with $7,500 along with a couple of staffers. McGuire, though, reports $13,840 in contributions from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, which also made an in-kind donation of $55,655. McGuire reimbursed the party for that in-kind contribution, which the party says covers its ground game operation on his behalf. To some, that seems like overkill in a Dem-leaning seat for a special election in April that won’t have much impact on the dynamic in the Assembly, where the GOP already has 63 seats. Even picking off the district would still leave Republicans two votes shy of what they’d need to override an Evers veto. Still, insiders note the psychological blow for Dems if McGuire were to lose — or even just squeak out a win. Conservative Brian Hagedorn’s victory in the state Supreme Court race earlier this month was seen as a major upset after he’d been outspent significantly. It also was a sign of enthusiasm among the GOP base that some believe was ginned up by stories about Hagedorn’s past writings on homosexuality, Dane County rulings on the lame-duck session and Evers’ budget. What message would it send, some ask, if Republicans picked off a Dem seat by running against Evers’ budget? Yes, Evers won 55.9 percent there just a few months ago, while U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, took 61.4 percent in the fall. But Hillary Clinton got just 52.5 percent in 2016, which to some Dems suggests it’s no lock, particularly in a low-turnout April special election. Add in that the conservative base seems jazzed up after the Supreme Court race, and it’s nothing to take for granted, some argue. Ever if Stalker falls short, some say, it’s forcing Dems to spend money. And with the right data and enthusiasm, there’s always the chance to pull an upset in a sleepy special election.
Ron Johnson: It’s been no secret that the Oshkosh Republican has been looking at a run for guv in 2022 — or that he might have second thoughts about his pledge to do just two terms in the Senate. But his interview with “UpFront” puts that possibility in the public eye. Ahead of his 2016 re-election, Johnson said it would be his last term if he won. But that was before Republicans lost every other statewide office in 2018, leaving Johnson in a different position than he’d expected. He tells “UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen that “this was not the reality I thought I’d face” and that he had expected former Gov. Scott Walker to win reelection. Johnson says he’s planning to spend the next two years focused on “establishing a grassroots juggernaut” to elect conservatives, adding “2022 is a long (time) in the future.” Johnson hasn’t been fundraising like someone who’s gearing up to run for a third term. He raised $28,959 in the first three months of 2019, one of his three lightest fundraising quarters since taking office. He also spent $87,069 — $60,000 of that to repay money he loaned his campaign — and continued to list $321,191 in debts. Still, insiders note two things. One, state rules prevent candidates from converting a federal committee to a state campaign account. That means if Johnson ran for guv, he’d be limited to the state cap on PAC donations, which is $86,000. So pulling in lots of federal cash wouldn’t help much for a guv bid. Two, the former plastics manufacturer has got enough personal coin that he could jump start his fundraising if he ran for a third term or took a look at guv. Whatever Johnson does, he’s not the only Republican looking at 2022. The names that have already been floated for his U.S. Senate seat include U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy, R-Wausau, and Mike Gallagher, R-Green Bay, along with former U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson. There also will likely be no shortage of Republicans who take a look at the guv’s race in 2022 — if it’s a good environment for the GOP. That includes the likes of former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Waukesha County Exec Paul Farrow, just to name a couple. Johnson backers say the Republican’s plans for 2022 aren’t any more settled than they were a couple of months ago. Some also believe the 2020 results could play a role in what he ultimately decides.
Foxconn: Another week, another group of headlines about whether the company will live up to its promise to create 13,000 jobs in southeastern Wisconsin. And as the guv kicks up the latest batch of media attention, Republicans accuse Dem Tony Evers of stepping in it, while his backers counter he’s just being honest about the doubts surrounding the company’s plans. Evers ran as a critic of the up-to-$3 billion state incentive package that Scott Walker had signed with the Taiwanese company. Since being elected, he’s also talked about seeking more accountability and transparency with the deal, though without many specifics. He then kicks up a dust storm when he says it’s “unrealistic” to believe Foxconn will create 13,000 jobs given the company’s plans to scale back the project from massive LCD screens to more modest ones. That prompts GOP leaders to accuse Evers of seeking to undermine the deal. But then the guv releases a letter to Foxconn exec Louis Woo asking him to clarify it was the Taiwanese company that was first to suggest changes to its contract with the state during a meeting last month. Evers goes a step further and says it’s his understanding that Woo delivered a similar message to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. Both lawmakers deny Woo said anything of the sort, while Vos says he’s open to discussing “making the deal more workable to achieve the contract.” As missiles fly back and forth, insiders owe some of it to business world nuance that’s getting lost in a political scrum. What may be a “tweak” to one party may sound more like “renegotiate” to another, and in this environment those subtle differences are simply lost, some say. Some project backers bemoan Evers suggesting the company’s job goal was unrealistic, saying if he’d just sidestepped the question, it would’ve avoided a solid week of political posturing. Raising doubts about the company’s plans makes the environment that much more difficult, some argue. Evers critics are more harsh, arguing the guv’s clumsy handling of the original question resulted in a letter they see as a C-Y-A moment. While some Evers backers acknowledge the guv could’ve sidestepped the question, they argue it’s simply his brand of honesty. And they note the pressures on the other side, too, particularly with the plant in Vos’ backyard and local governments going out on a limb to invest money into the project. Dems also fume at the criticism lobbed Evers’ way suggesting he wants to undermine the deal when Vos says he’s open to changes to help the company. Vos adds whatever happens, the protections for taxpayers must be maintained. Foxconn, meanwhile, continues to say it remains committed to creating 13,000 jobs and announces it’s planning interviews next month to fill about 30 positions at the Mt. Pleasant facility. The new employees will travel overseas for a six-month training period before returning to the state and mentoring future Foxconn hires in Wisconsin. They’re following a group of 20 that are already nearing the end of their overseas training. The company also has its own swirl of questions about its leadership amid word from Chairman Terry Gou that he’ll step back from the company and run for president of Taiwan. Company officials insist some of the reporting on Gou’s intentions is inaccurate. Some chalk it up to Gou being what they call “the ultimate entrepreneur,” who seizes opportunities he sees — and then forces others to try catching up with him.
Beverly Kopper: A new UW System investigation finds the former Whitewater chancellor had no direct knowledge of her husband sexually harassing at least seven — and potentially up to 10 — students or employees on the campus. Still, the report says Peter Hill’s behavior was a “blind spot” for the former chancellor, who didn’t take any actions to question her husband once the allegations became public and accepted his denials. She believed some of the allegations were due to grudges, according to the report. Hill’s behavior — and Kopper’s reaction — has already led to the chancellor resigning Dec. 31, though an agreement with the university means she’ll continue to be paid until August, when she’ll begin teaching. The latest report, though, adds more detail to how Kopper approached the allegations, which resulted in Hill being banned from campus, a fact the former chancellor didn’t acknowledge to her cabinet for seven weeks. Kopper pushes back on the findings, saying it is “rampant with speculation” in how it characterizes her. Among other things, her response takes issue with the report stating there is “no direct evidence” to suggest she was aware of her husband’s actions. In doing so, the response argues, the system implies there may be “some type of undiscovered evidence” to suggest she was aware of or culpable for her husband’s actions.
Higher ed funding: UW advocates have bemoaned what they see as a declining state commitment to the university. A new study puts that into perspective nationally. An analysis for the State Higher Education Executive Office Association finds Wisconsin had the fourth-largest decline in per-student spending between 2013-18 — at a time when nationally there was an increase of 15 percent. The dip in Wisconsin amounts to a reduction of 8 percent, from $7,002 per student to $6,435. That’s nearly $1,500 less than the national average of $7,835. Gov. Scott Walker and GOP lawmakers approved a $250 million cut in state funding to the UW System in the 2015-17 budget before delivering a $35 million boost for 2017-19 that extended a freeze on tuition for in-state students. Now, Gov. Tony Evers is proposing a $150 million increase in funding, along with making the system a focus of his $2.5 billion capital budget. Dems hail the proposal as a needed investment in the system after what they argue are years of neglect by Republicans. GOP lawmakers, however, fire back the guv overshot with his capital budget, saying the nearly $2 billion in borrowing gives their caucuses heartburn and will make it that much more difficult to reach a deal.
The state GOP’s postmortem of the 2018 elections found the party focused too much on advertising at the expense of engaging the grassroots, new Chair Andrew Hitt told WisPolitics.com in giving the first public overview of the report.
Hitt said the report suggests the state GOP needs to re-focus on congressional and county parties to give those activists the data they need to personally engage neighbors and friends to turn out and vote.
Still, Hitt said he didn’t think anyone with the party did anything wrong in 2018. Instead, he believes there was some complacency. And after eight years of Scott Walker in office, the party’s focus became the guv.
Campaign finance reports show the state GOP transferred nearly $5.2 million to Walker’s campaign between October 2017 and November 2018.
“I think RPW needs to be a grassroots-organizing organization and not an extension of a political campaign,” said Hitt, a partner and chief operating officer with Michael Best Strategies who was elected to lead the party April 13.
The party did the postmortem after losing all statewide constitutional offices last fall and seeing U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, win re-election by more than 10 percentage points. The effort included members of the party’s executive committee, as well as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, and legislative leaders Scott Fitzgerald, the Senate majority leader, and Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker. Hitt said it involved interviews with county parties, donors and party stakeholders to gauge the GOP’s strengths and weaknesses.
Hitt declined to release the full report until other party officials have had more time to review it. But he provided an overview of the findings in an interview this week.
“We need to balance it out with having a robust data program and a robust grassroots program,” Hitt said.
Hitt said one example of the changes he plans to make following the report is to better share the party’s voter file with local parties so those activists know who to target in their turnout efforts. Hitt said while it’s used by GOP candidates, the file could be better utilized by others on the ground as well.
He also pointed to this spring’s state Supreme Court race as an example of the power of the party’s grassroots.
A WisPolitics.com tally found independent groups spent $3.2 million backing Lisa Neubauer, compared to $1.7 million supporting conservative Brian Hagedorn. What’s more, Neubauer outraised her fellow appeals court judge with more than $1.7 million through the pre-election period, compared to Hagedorn’s nearly $1.3 million.
But Hagedorn eked out a nearly 6,000-vote win out of more than 1.2 million cast.
Hitt said the party’s focus leading up to that race was on the grassroots.
The party made $134,168 in in-kind donations to Hagedorn, who transferred $150,000 to the state GOP in the weeks leading up to the April 2 election. By law, a donor can’t earmark money given to a committee, and Hagedorn’s campaign said it was transferred for GOTV and party activities.
Hitt said the transaction might seem odd when compared to the 2018 Supreme Court race, in which the party gave conservative Michael Screnock $412,905 and was his biggest donor. That money accounted for 38 percent of what he raised in losing to liberal Rebecca Dallet.
Still, Hitt said the party didn’t have the same resources going into this spring’s race after the 2018 elections.
He also believes engaging the party’s activists helped Hagedorn combat the money disadvantage and negative headlines over his past writings.
“I think the grassroots are the fight against the tide,” he said.
Going forward, Hitt said the party’s short-term goals include retaining both houses of the Legislature in 2020, helping the president get re-elected, and winning next year’s Supreme Court race. Conservative Justice Daniel Kelly is looking at the prospect of seeking a full term at the same time Dems are turning out to elect their nominee to face Donald Trump.
Long-term, Hitt said he wants to grow party membership and focus more on local, non-partisan races. He said those officeholders become the bench for Fitzgerald and Vos to find candidates.
To accomplish both, Hitt is looking to build the party infrastructure outstate. That includes plans to have permanent field offices in each of the eight congressional districts that could train local party activists and provide information they need to engage others. Traditionally, he said, the party’s field offices open ahead of an election and then shut down after the races are over.
He said such efforts can help the party when it faces a difficult climate, as Republicans did in 2018.
“You can have all those tools, you can have all those things, you can target all the right people,” Hitt said. “But it doesn’t mean they’re going to open up that mail piece. It doesn’t mean they’re going to listen to the ad. It doesn’t mean they’re going to open up that Facebook ad. That’s why you need a grassroots infrastructure, a grassroots army knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to community members, talking to church members, talking to friends and family, people in their community and making the case to them personally why a particular candidate is who they should be voting for.”
Amid rising costs and stagnating state support, one northern Wisconsin county considered eliminating its tourism budget to free up funding for child welfare services.
Other counties have looked to raise their levy caps, delay transportation projects or up bonding for roads.
And some have been forced to make cuts to their Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse treatment programs to divert more money to paying social workers, covering foster care expenses and more.
Fueled largely by the opioid and meth epidemic ravaging the state, counties have seen rising costs to the child welfare services they provide, as caseworkers face mounting caseloads, out-of-home care expenses increase and foster homes fill up, forcing counties to send kids outstate or, in some cases, across the country.
Looking to stabilize the system, the Wisconsin Counties Association has requested an additional $30 million over the 2019-21 cycle in children and family aids allocations, the primary funding mechanism for child welfare services.
But Gov. Tony Evers opted in his budget to set aside just $15 million — a level Joint Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. John Nygren said he expects the Republicans in his chamber would look to exceed.
“I do believe the Assembly caucus will be supportive of increases over and above where Gov. Evers is,” the Marinette Republican told WisPolitics.com this week.
Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff countered the guv’s budget plan “takes a holistic approach to the opioid epidemic.”
She pointed to the acceptance of federal Medicaid expansion dollars and additional investments in Treatment Alternatives and Diversion programs, home visiting and school-based mental health resources.
“If Republicans aren’t willing to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid, and keep Wisconsin’s federal tax dollars in our state instead of paying for healthcare expansion in other states, where will they find resources to support [children and families aids] increases beyond the governor’s budget proposal?” she wrote in an email. “What healthcare (or other) initiatives would they cut?”
Across the state, counties are feeling the strain. The issue is multi-pronged: in short, counties say the rise in drug abuse has led to more child welfare referrals, unmanageable out-of-home care costs and unsustainable caseloads for local social workers.
Overall, more children are being removed from their homes because a caregiver is abusing drugs. Between 2011 and 2016, Counties Association data shows those removals rose 119 percent, from 577 to 1,261.
At the same time, out-of-home care costs — or expenses covering foster placement in a local foster home, a treatment foster home, a group home or a residential care center — have risen in recent years. Between 2013 and 2017, counties’ expenses in that area increased by more than $14 million, from $81.5 million to $95.7 million, according to data from the Counties Association.
And social workers are dealing with an average of 15 cases per worker, with around 30 children per employee, levels above recommended standards. The current caseloads increase the risk for worker turnover, the Counties Association says, which then means children are in out-of-home facilities for longer.
That data doesn’t include Milwaukee County and its program, which has been administered by the state since the late 1990s following a lawsuit and subsequent legislation OK’ing the takeover.
But back in Madison, state officials and leading legislators appear to agree more needs to be done to aid counties in battling the drug crisis — and the toll it’s taking on children and families in the system.
Whether the Counties Association’s request for the full $30 million increase over the coming biennium will be granted, however, remains to be seen.
Counties at a ‘crisis’ point
County officials from different sides of the state agree the time is now to address what they see as a growing emergency facing the child welfare system.
While La Crosse and Rock counties are fighting different aspects of the drug epidemics, they’re feeling a similar pressure on their own children and family services and social workers.
“There really is a crisis in the child welfare system, and the stakes are high,” La Crosse County Human Services Director Jason Witt told WisPolitics.com in a recent interview.
Northern and western parts of the state have seen more of an issue with meth abuse as the rest of the state has primarily dealt with opioid abuse. But Counties Association Deputy Government Affairs Director Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf said the meth abuse issues have started to creep east across the state.
In western La Crosse County, Witt said it’s around an even split between meth and opioid abuse issues, though he added meth is a bit more problematic for the area.
And in south-central Rock County, Administrator Josh Smith said it’s almost entirely an opioid abuse issue.
Regardless, both officials agree the state — and their two counties — are at a breaking point.
“Every year we go through the budget process, I think, ‘I have no idea how we’re going to do this,” Smith said.
This year, Rock County’s levy limits allowed officials to boost property taxes by just more than $1 million, Smith said. The lion’s share of that increase — nearly $900,000 — is going toward out-of-home placement costs for kids.
Smith said the opioid epidemic has thrown a wrench into how the county thinks about and administers its child welfare services, forcing officials to address immediate problems instead of long-term solutions.
Around six years ago, he said, about 17 percent of kids were removed from their homes because of a caregiver’s opioid use. Now, that figure is at 40 percent.
Kids, he said, have to be taken out of their homes for their own safety. The opioid abuse element means parents are taking more time to recover, leaving their children in foster care longer. And the entire circumstance, Smith says, means there’s the potential for additional trauma to the kids.
That all “snowballs and adds up on itself over time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the issue has an impact on the availability of foster homes and other facilities. Some counties have had to send children to other parts of Wisconsin, or different states entirely in order to house them, also contributing to higher costs.
Statewide in 2018, the number of children in residential care centers outside Wisconsin was 22, or about 7 percent of the entire placements, according to data from the Counties Association. Residential care centers provide more round-the-clock, intensive care, particularly to children with emotional or behavioral regulation issues, La Crosse County’s Witt said.
Last year, La Crosse County logged six out-of-state residential care center placements, according to data Witt shared with WisPolitics.com. Three children were sent to Nebraska, one to Minnesota, another to Iowa and the last to Georgia. In all, the placements cost more than $375,000.
In light of that, Witt said the county’s finance team suggested officials add a new line item to the 2019 budget: “air travel,” to account for the cost incurred by sending a social worker to do face-to-face checks with each of the children once a quarter. The county budgeted $1,000 for its new addition, though officials for the most part have been conducting those visits via car — the more “economical route,” Witt said.
“Placing children at such long distances away from their home communities, biological parents and informal support networks is far from ideal,” Witt wrote in an email. “It complicates reunification or other permanency efforts (such as adoption or guardianship). Timely reunification is critical for a child’s well-being and development. For these to occur, having a placement nearer to the child’s home community is much better.”
Increasing awareness among lawmakers, administration
While counties have been grappling with these issues for a number of years, it wasn’t until the creation of the Speaker’s Task Force on Foster Care in 2017 that many became aware of the scope of the problem.
The group, headed by Reps. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, and Patrick Snyder, R-Schofield, held hearings across the state and released a report last summer recommending lawmakers study the correlation between drug use and increased out-of-home care placements.
But before then, as the panel was hitting the road, La Crosse County’s Witt recalled having conversations with lawmakers where they “really expressed surprise at the state of the child welfare system.”
“And that was a light bulb moment for us, because frankly, we were surprised that they were surprised,” he said.
Nygren, the JFC co-chair, said it was the task force’s work that first flagged the problem for him.
But since then, the Counties Association has worked to continue to draw attention to the issue. The group last fall launched a statewide advocacy campaign, which includes a series of videos that have been shared on various social media platforms.
In all, counties are asking for $30 million more in children and family aids allocations, which are distributed to counties through a formula. Under state law, counties have to match the dollars the state puts into the system by nearly 10 percent.
In 2018-19, that funding was budgeted at $74.3 million, meaning counties have to spend at least $7.4 million. But in practice, counties have about $120 million of levy in the system right now, Diedrick-Kasdorf of the Counties Association said.
And that amount is growing every year as county officials have moved money around in their budgets to cover the increasing expenses and in some cases sought taxpayer approval to raise levy limits.
“We can’t do that anymore,” Diedrick-Kasdorf said. “So we’re at a point where our counties have done everything they can and now we need to go to the state and say, ‘You need to be a better partner with us on this.'”
Nygren and fellow Co-chair Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, both agreed increased funding over the coming biennium is a necessity.
While neither of them committed to a specific figure, Nygren was more bullish, predicting the Assembly GOP caucus would go for an increase in children and family aids of more than Evers’ budgeted $15 million.
Darling, though, said it is “too soon to say where” the Republican Senate caucus will go.
“I’m trying to do my research and hear what my colleagues are willing to do too, but I think if we don’t address this need now, we’re going to pay for it,” she said.
Evers’ budget would increase the aids allocation by $15 million in general purpose revenue beginning in calendar year 2020 and fund the 2.5 percent rate increase for foster care in calendar year 2019.
The increase would come after a $5 million upper in 2018 in then-Gov. Scott Walker’s final budget.
Department of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson in an interview this week called the issue her “top priority” and praised Evers’ broader budget — as well as his children and family aids investment — as a “strong” plan for countering the opioid epidemic.
While she wouldn’t say which children and family aids funding level is appropriate, she added Evers’ budget “really sets us off on a positive path for how we start to adequately fund our health and human services allocations.”
That includes encouraging local innovation and county-specific programming, she said.
“I think what we’re going to see coming out of this budget with some increased (children and family aids) funding, we’re going to see counties start to showcase the innovations that they’re able to road-test when they’re adequately staffed, when they’re not in crisis mode, and when they’re able to start to shift some of those dollars upstream,” she said. “So I would say the governor’s budget starts that conversation.”
Nygren, though, argued Evers failed to prioritize addressing the opioid epidemic in hs budget.
“The opioid issue affects so many different lives in Wisconsin,” he said. “I think the need is real. Gov Evers did not, I would say, did not prioritize it based on some of the other opportunities he had in the budget. I think it’s going to be a priority of ours.”
Looking at long-term solutions
County officials are pitching an increase in county and family aids over the next two years as a means of stabilizing the child welfare system in the short term and buying the state time to work toward a long-term solution.
But the question of what that solution could look like is an open-ended one.
Part of the Counties Association’s request is to create some sort of legislative oversight mechanism to regularly review child protective services as part of the budget process.
Amundson of DCF said she’d welcome a conversation about future actions after the budget is wrapped up.
“We don’t want to find ourselves in this place again 10 years from now,” she said. “I think it’s difficult when it feels like you have to get to a crisis point before folks are really sort of tapped in or plugged in.”
In the meantime, the agency is undertaking a workload study, which would look at how much time it takes social workers to perform a specific function, rather than comparing caseloads, or the average number of children assigned to a single social worker.
DCF initially found funding for the study and began the process late last year, though the election put it on hold. New agency leadership has picked it up, and the request for proposal has been put out to find a vendor, a DCF spokesman said.
The results of the study, Diedrick-Kasdorf said, would help inform the Counties Association’s next budget request and future steps.
Darling, the JFC co-chair, agreed the state should be looking at long-term solutions to aiding the child welfare system’s response to the drug epidemics.
The opioid epidemic, she said, has had a negative impact on the foster care system “and we have to look at how we’re going to address that,” she said. “It’s a really huge issue.”
Fellow JFC co-chair Nygren said he expects the state would continue to prioritize it in future budgets.
“I believe that spending the money up front is a much better investment than if you’ve lost a kid,” he said.
See videos from the Counties Association’s campaign:
Republican Mark Stalker says he’s running for the heavily Dem 64th AD in the Kenosha area to give voters “another message” and add some ideological diversity to the special election ticket.
The 62-year-old former school board member noted in a recent interview with WisPolitics.com that former Dem Rep. Peter Barca had largely been unopposed in his recent re-election bids for the seat — save for the 2018 general, when Constitution Party candidate Thomas Harland challenged the Kenosha Dem.
Stalker said at the time he’d told his wife, Kim, he’d run for the seat during the next race so it wouldn’t go uncontested.
“It worked out,” he said. “(It) came up a little quicker than I expected, to be honest. I did want a Republican on the ticket, and that’s the main reason I run, and I think it’s just because I want people to have another message.”
Stalker will face off against Dem Thaddeus “Tip” McGuire, an assistant DA for Milwaukee County who lives in Kenosha, in the race to replace Barca on Tuesday. Barca left the seat vacant after joining the Evers administration to become Revenue secretary.
McGuire, a former Barca aide, won a three-way Dem primary for the seat earlier this month.
Among Stalker’s top issues are worker retraining efforts, education and health care. Stalker, who spent several decades in the paint business in various sales positions — including time at True Value Company and PPG Industries — first came to Kenosha in the 1980s to take over as head baseball coach at Carthage.
Stalker said would have supported two of the major bills the Assembly took up on the floor so far this year: the GOP version of a middle-class tax cut plan, which has been voted by Gov. Tony Evers, and legislation to guarantee the coverage of pre-existing conditions, which has yet to be taken up by the Senate after receiving bipartisan support in January.
On road funding, Stalker said his priority is finding efficiencies within the Department of Transportation, adding he’s “not positive the money they’re taking in is being used properly.”
“I want to get there and get elected and then I’ll review it,” he said.
He also repeatedly referenced a critical audit of DOT from two years ago that showed the department didn’t do all it could to manage expenses and underestimated cost estimates for a series of major highway projects.
After addressing that side of things, Stalker said he’d be “open to looking at new ideas,” though he ruled out tolling completely.
Though he didn’t comment on Evers’ budget proposal to raise the gas tax by 8 cents a gallon, he said: “It really disturbs me that we take just about 52 cents out of every gallon for federal and state gas tax and we’re not able to address the roads.”
Hear the interview:
See a past WisPolitics.com candidate interview featuring McGuire:
After conflicting reports about the future of Foxconn resurfaced, Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs Sen. Alberta Darling and Rep. John Nygren backed the Taiwanese electronics manufacturer as “a very good investment” for the state.
But Assembly Majority Leader Gordon Hintz today told WisPolitics.com that “it’s hard to believe anyone would actually make that comment.”
“Have either of these two remotely looked into what their track record has been in other states and other countries?” the Oshkosh Dem asked. “I’m not sure there’s a company with a worse track record for overpromising and underperforming and pulling out when their interests were no longer there.”
Renewed speculation over the Foxconn project kicked off when Gov. Tony Evers said the Taiwanese company was first to suggest changes to its contract with the state. In a Tuesday letter to Foxconn exec Louis Woo, Evers wrote he understood the company will submit documentation supporting the proposed changes to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. in the coming weeks.
Evers’ letter followed earlier comments suggesting it was “unrealistic” the company would create 13,000 jobs at the plant. He had also noted changes may be needed to the up-to-$3 billion incentive package Foxconn signed with his predecessor.
Both Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos panned those comments, and in an emoji-ladened tweet, Foxconn Director U.S. Strategic Initiatives Alan Yeung said Evers’ suggestion was “probably fake news.”
“Nobody has a crystal ball here, but I think we are very pleased with the commitment we’ve made with the state of Wisconsin,” Yeung said after being asked about his tweet by reporters on Thursday.
But Nygren, R-Marinette, seized upon Yeung’s tweet at a WisPolitics.com luncheon in Madison yesterday, going after the Evers administration and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.
“The maturity level of some of these people who are making these decisions just amazes me that we’re even in this world right now where we’re attacking somebody who actually wants to invest in Wisconsin,” said Nygren.
Foxconn spent nearly $100 million on capital purchases last year, but WEDC won’t yet say how much of that total will qualify for related tax credits. In order to get the full $192.9 million in capital investment tax credits for 2019, Foxconn would have to spend about $1.29 billion and create at least 520 jobs by early April 2020.
Dem criticisms of the contract have centered on the uncertainty surrounding clawbacks and environmental protections.
Nygren and Darling, R-River Hills, took turns defending the Foxconn deal at the luncheon. Nygren urged the audience to remember that “the credits are based on the number of jobs.”
“So if it’s 13,000 jobs, if it’s 11,000 jobs, if it’s zero jobs, it’s already defined,” he said.
Darling echoed that sentiment, labeling the contract as “a pay-as-you-grow” agreement, noting that “they don’t get paid unless they grow jobs.”
But Hintz said that focusing solely on tax credits ignores the opportunity costs.
“I would ask Mount Pleasant how pay-as-you-grow is working out, or counties around the state where state highway projects aren’t going to receive the money that was diverted to pay for Foxconn’s infrastructure,” he said.
JFC leaders also highlighted what they said was Evers’ failure to prioritize workforce development initiatives in his budget. Darling said she believed the state jobs agency, WEDC, was doing “very well to represent Wisconsin and the opportunities here.” Nygren lamented the lack of funding for workforce development, which he labeled as “a missed opportunity.” The Marinette Republican pledged to provide support for technical schools.
“You’re continuing to see us invest in things that actually produce high skilled labor, produce workers that the corporations that are investing in Wisconsin need to continue to be successful here,” Nygren said.
Dems jumped on those comments yesterday, pointing to previous GOP cuts to education. Hintz wrote on Twitter that “another missed opportunity was the $1.08 billion cut from the (UW System) by Republicans over the past 8 years, during the second longest national economic expansion in US history.”
Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, meanwhile, tweeted: “I’m just going to leave this right here,” along with a link to a CBS News story from 2011 that reported then-Gov. Scott Walker’s budget slashed $1.85 billion from public schools and the UW System.
See video of the luncheon:
WisPolitics.com is profiling some of the newly announced state agency heads. This week features our 11th installment with Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan.
Brennan most recently served as CEO of Discovery World, a Milwaukee-based science and technology non-profit. He previously worked as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett and ran Barrett’s gubernatorial and mayoral campaigns.
48 years old, born in Milwaukee.
25-year career in public policy. Served as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Rep. Tom Barrett. Worked in legislative affairs for Miller Brewing Company. Ran Barrett’s campaign for governor in 2002 and mayor in 2003. Became CEO of Discovery World in 2007, a role he held until joining the Evers administration.
Undergraduate degree in English and political science from Marquette University. Graduate degree from the University of Chicago in public policy.
Met his wife, Audra, in graduate school. Two children: Allison, 13, and Connor, 12.
Favorite non-work interests?
Enjoys spending time with family and coached basketball for both children. Also coaches baseball. Fond of outdoor recreation, golf, crossword puzzles and reading.
Why the interest in being in the Evers administration?
This is in some ways a return to public policy for me. For 11 years I worked in a very nonpartisan job running a nonprofit. And it allowed me an opportunity to work with people from all over the ideological spectrum, and people who wanted to work on issues surrounding education, surrounding workforce development, surrounding public policy related to freshwater science. I was drawn back to the work because I believe that Gov. Evers is an honest person who is committed to doing the right thing. I don’t think he is an ideologue by any stretch. I think he’s a pragmatist who is really looking to make some changes and get things done, and I believe there are things that need to be changed at the state level. And so I felt a call kind of back to that service. I feel like I bring a breadth of experience and things that I’ve done over the course of my career that hopefully can be helpful in the job.
What are your priorities for the agency under your leadership?
To be effective, to be transparent. DOA is an interesting and complex organization. And one of the things that make it complex is that most of the constituency we have is across the rest of the enterprise. And so how well we do is hopefully reflected in how well other agencies are able to do their work, how well we interact with the Legislature. How well the governor does over the course of four years being able to complete his agenda and being effective in getting things done. So I hope that we’re going to be seen as responsive, as available and accessible to various parties and that we’re going to be effective in actually getting things done.
What should the agency be doing differently?
I’ve had conversations with legislators who have said that they had infrequent contact either with the secretary’s office or with the department. These are not people from one party or another; it was kind of broadly across the Legislature. And I hope that one of the things that can be a hallmark of any of the agencies is that we are seen as being accessible to the Legislature and being responsive, whether it’s an issue that’s a constituent issue that they come up with or a broader policy objective that they’re interested in. The department has a lot of opportunity to work across the enterprise. And so I hope we can be very responsive and effective in being accessible to the Legislature.
What’s the best advice you’ve received since getting the job?
One of the best pieces of advice was that I was going to get lots of pieces of advice and that no matter what happens, to ensure that we keep our eye on doing what’s right. If we’re focused on that, then everything else will kind of take care of itself. And so I hope that’s the approach that we’re trying to take here. The other that I don’t know whether I’ve taken to heart as much as I need to is don’t get too high or too low. Part of the way of being effective at doing a job like this is just evening out the peaks and valleys and just being able to keep going no matter what is happening around you.
I don’t think I’ve gotten any bad advice. I hope I’m always willing to lend an ear to somebody who has useful input. One of the things that I found valuable is very early on in my tenure here, and even before I took the job, I was able to talk to a number of former secretaries. My guess is that they would all describe the job a little differently. Everybody kind of puts their own stamp on it. But being able to sit down with someone like Jim Klauser, who everyone over the course of a generation would recognize as somebody who kind of wrote the book on how to do this job and expanded the impact of this agency. I think that was really valuable for me. Scott Neitzel is somebody who I worked with at the Wisconsin Center District and who became a friend over the course of the last several years and I was able to work with, so people like that, their advice is always going to be valuable. But there’s going to be lots of other input that’s going to be valuable as well. And I hope I sift through it in the right way, and I’m able to take the best aspects of all of it.
See a WisPolitics.com video of the conversation:
See past WisPolitics.com interviews and videos with other cabinet secretaries:
Monday: Office of the Commissioner of Insurance preliminary hearing on the “Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan” proposed 2020 payment parameters
– 10 a.m.: 125 S. Webster St., Room 227, Madison.
(Check local listings for times in your area)
“UpFront” is a statewide commercial TV news magazine show airing Sundays around the state. This week’s show, hosted by ADRIENNE PEDERSEN, features Voces de la Frontera Executive Director CHRISTINE NEUMANN-ORTIZ and Department of Health Services Secretary ANDREA PALM.
*See viewing times in state markets here: http://www.wisn.com/upfront/
*Also view the show online each Monday at WisPolitics.com
“Rewind,” a weekly show from WisconsinEye and WisPolitics.com, airs at 8 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Sundays in addition to being available online. On this week’s episode, WisPolitics.com’s JR ROSS and WisconsinEye’s STEVE WALTERS discuss the state budget, the latest Foxconn developments and the upcoming special election in the 64th AD.
*Watch the show or listen to the podcast: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/rewind-your-week-in-review-for-april-26/
Wisconsin Public TV’s “Here and Now” airs at 7:30 p.m. Fridays. On this week’s program, anchor FREDERICA FREYBERG talks with Assembly Majority Leader JIM STEINEKE, Rep. JONATHAN BROSTOFF and political panelists BILL McCOSHEN and SCOT ROSS.
“For the Record” airs at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on WISC-TV in Madison. Host NEIL HEINEN talks with Madison School District Superintendent JEN CHEATHAM.
“Capital City Sunday” airs at 9 a.m. Sunday on WKOW-TV in Madison, WAOW-TV in Wausau, WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WQOW-TV in Eau Claire. This week, host EMILEE FANNON talks with ALEX LASRY, of the Milwaukee Bucks, International Union of Operating Engineers Local President TERRY McGOWAN and state Rep. JOAN BALLWEG.
“The Insiders” is a weekly WisOpinion.com web show featuring former Democratic Senate Majority Leader CHUCK CHVALA and former Republican Assembly Speaker SCOTT JENSEN. This week, the two outline the competing budget strategies of Gov. TONY EVERS and legislative Republicans.
*Watch the video or listen to the show:
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Upcoming WisPolitics.com events in Milwaukee, Madison and Washington, D.C. include:
*A Tuesday luncheon with Gov. TONY EVERS in Milwaukee. The Newsmaker Luncheon, hosted jointly by the Milwaukee Press Club and WisPolitics.com, will feature a round of questioning from a panel of journalists: SYDNEY CZYZON, managing editor, Marquette Tribune; CHARLES BENSON, anchor/reporter, Today’s TMJ4; VICTOR JACOBO, Capitol reporter, CBS 58/Telemundo Wisconsin; and PATRICK MARLEY, reporter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. See details: https://milwaukeepressclub.org/events/governor-tony-evers-to-speak-at-newsmaker-luncheon/
*A May 7 Madison Club luncheon on Wisconsin’s role in the presidential race featuring Republican operative KEITH GILKES, Democratic strategist TANYA BJORK and Marquette University Law School poll Director CHARLES FRANKLIN. See details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wispolitics-luncheon-wis-role-in-the-presidential-race-tickets-57234684482
*A June 5 DC Breakfast with MANU RAJU, senior congressional correspondent at CNN. Raju will analyze the relationship between the Republican Senate and the Democratic House and how Democrats will handle the impeachment question. He is a former Politico reporter and a UW-Madison grad who grew up in the Chicago area. See details: https://www.wispolitics.com/2019/june-5-wispolitics-com-d-c-breakfast-with-cnns-manu-raju/
REBECCA KLEEFISCH will speak about her experience as lieutenant governor and transition to leading the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission at an event put on by the Waukesha County Business Alliance on June 6. See details:
And DWD Secretary CALEB FROSTMAN is scheduled to appear at a separate Waukesha County Business Alliance event to chat about local issues over coffee on June 27. See details:
An Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists budget briefing May 7 features Dem JFC members Sen. JON ERPENBACH and Rep. CHRIS TAYLOR, and GOP JFC members Sen. LUTHER OLSEN and Rep. AMY LOUDENBECK. See details: http://wisconsinlobbyists.com/event-3365283
A June 6 AWL event features DSPS Secretary DAWN CRIM and Transportation Secretary CRAIG THOMPSON. See details: http://wisconsinlobbyists.com/event-3379335
Madison Mayor SATYA RHODES-CONWAY has named LESLIE ORRANTIA as deputy mayor. Orrantia will oversee aspects of economic development, public health and transportation.
JASON CULOTTA has been selected to be the next president of the Midwest Food Products Association. Culotta previously served as senior director of government relations at Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a board member of the Wisconsin Transportation Development Association, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Freight Advisory Committee, Wisconsin Central Group, and as a member of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council. He succeeds NICK GEORGE, who retired after 14 years with the organization.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON will be the keynote speaker at the Wisconsin Women in Government 2019 Scholarship and Recognition Gala at Monona Terrace in Madison on May 15. Anderson is an ABC News political contributor, columnist at The Washington Examiner, and is the co-host of The Pollsters, a bipartisan weekly podcast. See details:
For more Names in the News, see subscriber products from earlier in the week plus the press release page at WisPolitics.com: https://www.wispolitics.com/
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