THU AM Update: JFC to take up transportation budget; UW regents meet today

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— The Joint Finance Committee is scheduled to take up transportation funding and taxes today as it pushes towards its goal of finishing the budget by the end of next week.

This comes after Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters yesterday afternoon that Senate Republicans are looking at a $10 bump to the state’s $75 vehicle registration fee along with an increase to the title fee.

The Juneau Republican also continued to rule out a gas tax increase and indicated that the idea would be joined on the scrap heap of discarded road revenue uppers by a proposal to increase heavy truck fees.

Ten Senate Republicans — including all six caucus members on the Finance Committee — also unveiled a transportation plan yesterday that would give each county $1 million and each town $1,000 per mile of road in its jurisdiction. The latter would total $61.6 million.

It would use a piece of the additional $753 million in revenue the state is now expected to take in through mid-2021. Much of that is expected to be one-time money as taxpayers take advantage of the 2017 rewrite of federal tax laws, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

But Fitzgerald and JFC Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, both said they want to look at the proposal outside of the transportation plan JFC is expected to vote on today.

Today’s agenda includes:

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance
Kickapoo Reserve Management Board
Public Service Commission — Broadband Provisions
Public Service Commission — Departmentwide and Energy Programs
Revenue — Tax Administration
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Volkswagen Settlement
Transportation — Transportation Finance
Transportation — Local Transportation Aid
Transportation — Local Transportation Assistance
Transportation — State Highway Program

The committee is scheduled to convene at 1 p.m.

Follow today’s action in the Budget Blog:

— The UW Board of Regents will today convene for the first of two days of meetings at UW-Milwaukee.

President Ray Cross is scheduled to deliver remarks this afternoon in which he describes the system as “an invaluable asset to help solve Wisconsin’s most pressing needs.”

This comes after Cross on Tuesday pushed for lawmakers to OK the university’s capital budget, saying it was needed to attract talent to Wisconsin and educate students to fill high-demand jobs.

Speaking with reporters at UW-Madison, Cross ticked off projects around the system he said amounted to $38 million just to modernize classrooms. In all, the university requested $1.9 billion in projects.

“You simply cannot run a chemistry lab out of your kitchen. We need modern, advanced labs to do that,” Cross said.

The appeal from Cross and UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank came as the Joint Finance Committee looks to finish work on the budget by the end of next week, when it is expected to take up capital projects.

While the system requested $1.9 billion in projects, Gov. Tony Evers proposed $1.1 billion for the university in his $2.5 billion capital budget. Overall, the guv sought nearly $2 billion in borrowing, but Republicans have vowed to pare back the plan.

Additionally, the board is scheduled to hold leadership elections tomorrow.

See the agenda:


TOMORROW: and discussion: Closing the urban-rural health care gap

The recent 2019 County Health Rankings report showed gaps in health care between suburban-urban areas and rural counties in Wisconsin. In southwestern Wisconsin, La Crosse County was ranked 6th among the state’s 72 counties in terms of health factors that drive healthy lifestyles such as lower tobacco and alcohol use; access to quality care, education, employment and social support; plus housing and water-air quality. But surrounding counties ranked between 19th and 59th.

Join us for a discussion on coping with these gaps in rural-urban health care. The cost to attend is free, thanks to the support of Health Tradition.

But you must register in advance.

WHAT: Closing the rural-urban health care gap

WHEN: Friday June 7, 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. with the program going from noon to 1:15 p.m.

WHERE: The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern l 328 Front Street South Ste. 100, La Crosse WI 54601

FORMAT: Dr. Tim Bartholow, Chief Medical Officer of Health Tradition, will provide opening remarks, and then a panel of four experts will add commentary. The panelists include Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling of La Crosse, Wally Orzechowski of the Southwest Community Action Program, Dr. Paul S. Mueller, chair of Mayo Clinic’s general internal medicine, and Dr. Erik Gundersen, medical director of Kwik Trip Center for Health and incoming president of the Wisconsin Medical Society.

The event is organized by and, non-partisan news organizations that regularly convene discussions of important public issues. Sponsored by Health Tradition.

To register, visit:


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State Senate Sends ‘Born Alive’ Abortion Bill To Evers’ Desk: Governor Has Vowed To Veto Bill, Along With 3 Other Abortion-Related Measures
… Under the [Roth] bill, doctors who do not provide the required care to babies born breathing or with a beating heart after an attempted abortion may be charged with a felony, fined up to $10,000 and imprisoned for up to six years. Docs who cause the death of surviving infant faces life imprisonment. Roth argued it is not an “anti-abortion” measure, “Deciding not to let a vulnerable, defenseless newborn die is not anti-abortion, it’s anti-murder. No child should be left to die, no matter how they came into this world.” Minority Leader Shilling argued, “It is the same smoke screen the majority party uses to distract from their true agenda, which is to push abortion out of reach for women in Wisconsin.” Sen. Jacque amendment failed to add harsher penalties for the mother. Bill passed on 18-14, with Jacque joining Dems voting NO and Larson not voting. Evers has vowed veto. American College of Ob-Gyns, WMS oppose the bill. Catholic Conference, WRtoL, WFA support it. 3 related bills passed: continued pregnancy info after first abortion pill passed on 19-13 party line; Testin bill banning gender/race/ethnicity-based abortions passed 19-13; bill banning Medicaid abortion, aimed at defunding Planned Parenthood, passed 19-13. 2 other bills passed: Exceptions to “step therapy” [unanimous voice] and legalizing paddlewheel raffles – neither of which have Assembly vote.

Senate GOP Propose Road Funding Increase For Counties, Towns
… one-time influx of $134M [surplus GPR] … [would send $1M to] Each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties … remaining $62M would be sent to town governments. … “We want to use this one-time money to make a difference in the one thing that all of our constituents have told us that they want,” said Sen. Howard Marklein [at Capitol presser with 10 fellow senators]. “To fix our roads.” Marklein suggested entire caucus, Assembly GOP may not support it. Munies’ Deschane supports a “holistic” solution, “There’s obviously nothing in this for 70 percent of the taxpayers in this state. That’s roughly how many people live in cities and villages. So that’s a problem.” Majority Leader Fitzgerald statement said Marklein plan would be separate from JFC road budget action on Thursday, “This is a laudable idea that I currently consider as a proposal outside the state transportation budget.” Rehash Evers’ gas tax hike, Fitzgerald rejection.

Senate GOP float $10 registration fee increase to fund transportation budget
… [after Marklein made $134M proposal] Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald [detailed] potential fee increase … to $85. … said tolling is still on the table … considering a mix of new revenue, cash and bonding … the total transportation revenue increase and which projects should be funded. Speaker spokeswoman said Vos’ caucus [like Fitzgerald] focused on long-term funding solution within road budget, interested in Marklein plan outside budget. … Marklein … declined to say whether Republicans would support fee increases. … Evers on Monday didn’t rule out a transportation plan that doesn’t include a gas tax increase. … didn’t respond to a request seeking comment. Munies’ Deschane said Marklein plan lacks sustainable funding, ignores cities and villages.

WI GOP appear nowhere near a deal on road funding
… became clear Wednesday when 10 Senate Republicans rolled out a plan to give counties and towns — but not cities or villages — a one-time infusion of cash to help pay for roads. Other Senate Republicans have not embraced the plan so far and GOP leaders from both houses said the idea should be considered outside of budget deliberations [Sen. Lemahieu touts $134M one-time infusion, MUnies’ Deschane notes shortcomings.] … [Fitzgerald’s hiking] registration fee from $75 to $85 a year would generate about an eighth as much as Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal … “If we do the 8 cents on the gas tax it moves us to No. 10 in the nation,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re trying to figure out if there’s other places that we can do this instead of just at the pump all the time.” … [WisDOT tweet:] “We need to establish a forward-looking, sustainable funding source to fix our deteriorating highways. A gas tax is the fairest, most affordable solution. It applies to everyone using the highway system — including visitors.” … “Really?” Fitzgerald said when asked about the tweets. … [WisDOT] should provide information “instead of being such an advocate, but it would appear Secretary (Craig) Thompson can’t help himself.” … Thompson said with the tweets his agency was simply explaining why the Evers administration considers the gas tax a fairer way to pay for roads than registration fees [which raises too little, imperiling projects like Zoo Interchange.] Fitzgerald on why Evers’ min markup repeal is out: “You know in the city of Juneau there’s one Piggly Wiggly. And if it’s directly affected and it goes out of business, whether it’s minimum markup or not, guess who’s going to get blamed? Me. So, we need a grocery store in Juneau, you know?”

WI Fell Short Of 250K Job Goal During Walker’s 8 Years In Office
New ‘Gold Standard’ [BLS’ QCEW] Numbers Show State Added 233,101 Private Sector Jobs During Walker’s Tenure … private sector jobs grew in Wisconsin by 10.3 percent, which ranked 34th among all states and trailed the national growth rate of 17.1 percent. … “I want every cabinet secretary to have branded across their head, ‘250,000 jobs,'” Walker told the Dairy Business Association in December 2010, shortly before he took office. WI added roughly 129K private sector jobs in Walker’s first term. Private-sector job growth during same time period: MI 17.5%, MN 13.9%, IL 10%, IA 8.7%. Notably, 2018 was the first year ever that MN’s private sector job total surpassed WI’s [by 160]. MN’s overall job count surpassed WI’s in 2017. WI’s strong UI rate was 3% when Walker left office, hit 2.8 in April. 2 BLS graphs.

A massive presidential field, but for many rank-and-file Dems, just five top contenders
… In interviews with 30 convention delegates from across the state, the candidate whose name popped up the most may come as a surprise to some: Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren … About half the Democratic activists interviewed here said she was among their favorite candidates in the field. … four others who were each mentioned by about a quarter of the party activists interviewed: Biden, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg. … only other Democrat in the field who was mentioned more than twice was New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, but some of those mentions were negative. … vast majority of delegates interviewed said they were not committed to a single candidate. … want to see the contest unfold and the candidates prove themselves. … [Klobuchar, Gillibrand, O’Rourke] have simply failed to break through. … Warren, by a significant margin, got the most favorable reviews … most pointed to the detailed policy positions she has staked out. Delegates here pointed to the massive size of the Democratic field with varying degrees of glee, frustration and wonder. … Former state legislator Bob Turner of Racine said, “The more the merrier, as long as they come together” in the end. Several delegates comment.

WI appeals court upholds right to receive electronic copies of public records
… requiring state Rep. Scott Krug … [who had] printed out copies of the emails [“substantially as readable”] for Lueders to read and refused a follow-up request for the electronic records … to turn over electronic copies of emails requested by The Progressive magazine editor Bill Lueders. … “It should end all doubt that requesters who ask for records in electronic form — often the simplest way to provide them — are entitled to receive records in electronic form,” Lueders said. … unanimous decision [including incoming justice Hagedorn] … says the “substantially as readable” provision applies only when the requester shows up in person, which Lueders did not. … [WILL, Badger Institute, AFP joined FOIC] in the case, saying they have “experienced the frustration of a custodian who prints out records for no other reason than to inconvenience the requester.”

Wisconsin will soon become an island surrounded by legal weed
… [IL, MI, MN] have now legalized marijuana use and two of them allow [recreational use] … “Some of the results of legalization in other states have been troubling,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau. “It would be wise for Wisconsin to take a more measured approach and wait to see how it plays out in other states in the Midwest before rushing any kind of legalization here.” … “At some point, Wisconsin residents may become one of the largest donors to the Illinois Tollway,” Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes recently joked. Illinois’ law could take effect as soon as Jan. 1. But, IL and MN were Dem-controlled when it passed and IL is in dire fiscal shape and. MI law was voter-approved. UW prof. Burden noted IL’s fiscal whithers and WI “does not permit direct democracy via ballot proposition.” Tourism’s Trost said MI lure too soon to tell, “greater data year-over-year will continue to shed light on the travel impact of repealing marijuana bans.” Following legalization in other states, marijuana-themed entertainment services popped up. Marinette in 2017 pass ordinance confirming pot is banned regardless of MI law. Kenosha Sheriff Sgt. Hannah noted future is unknown as IL law has yet to change, “The state laws have not changed and the department will continue to enforce those state laws.”


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– 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.: Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative 2019 Annual Conference. Attendees are to hear from University of Illinois atmospheric science professor Donald J. Wuebbles, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Quebec Consul General of Chicago Jean-François Hould, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and others.

– 7:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: AMP! breakfast with former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who serves as executive director of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

– 7:45 a.m.: Board of Regents meeting.

– 9:30 a.m.: Senate Committee on Health and Human Services public hearing on SB 28, relating to direct primary care agreements; SB 103 and AB 76, relating to hours of instructional program for nurse aides; and a series of appointments.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate executive session on AB 117, relating to submission of building permit applications for one-family and two-family dwellings; AB 121, relating to housing navigator grants; AB 123, relating to housing grants to homeless individuals and families; and AB 125, relating to housing quality standards loans.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Ways and Means public hearing on AB 251, relating to requiring marketplace providers to collect and remit sales tax from third parties and reducing individual income tax rates based on the collection of sales and use tax from out-of-state retailers and marketplace providers.

– 1 p.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session. Members are to take up budgets for the WEDC, Department of Justice, transportation, and other areas.

– 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Rep. VanderMeer fundraiser.

– 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Karofsky campaign fundraiser.

– 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Wisconsin Conservative Digest Keep America Great Conference. Event features training sessions, presentations on winning new voters and a panel discussion on grassroots organizing.

– 5 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Veterans Chamber of Commerce Chamber Muster.

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