WED AM Update: Cross knocks GOP UW budget, Republicans scale back Evers’ DNR proposal

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— UW President Ray Cross slammed the GOP proposal to fund the university over the next two years, calling it a missed opportunity for the Legislature.

The GOP proposal, approved 12-4 along party lines Tuesday evening, would add another two years to the freeze on tuition for in-state undergraduates at the UW System.

But committee Republicans nixed Gov. Tony Evers’ plan to backfill that lost tuition revenue with an additional $50.4 million in state aid.

Overall, the GOP motion would provide $69.7 million less in state aid than the $126.6 million the guv had proposed. Republicans also want to require the university to come back to the committee with a plan on how it would spend $45 million of the money Republicans want to allocate to UW before it would be released.

Cross said he has regularly heard from Republican lawmakers that they want more of a focus on better preparing the state’s workforce for high-demand jobs.

He said at the same time, the system was accused by others of putting together its budget proposal based off GOP talking points to focus on workforce development.

Cross said he was told earlier this spring by Republicans that the budget proposal was reasonable only to have that change late last week, and he doesn’t know what prompted that. He said the GOP plan would mean the system wouldn’t be able to address wait lists for nursing classes or expand engineering programs, both areas of need.

“I’m frustrated,” Cross told reporters after the vote. “I feel like I’ve been kicked in the shins.”

Read the GOP’s UW motion:

— Joint Finance Committee Republicans rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ call to create a new bureau to house the DNR’s scientists while approving two of the five new positions he wanted.

The GOP motion also proposed increasing by $4 million borrowing for contaminated sediment removal in Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and their tributaries rather than the $25 million increase he wanted. Since 2007, $32 million in bonding has been authorized for the work.

The motion, approved 12-4 along party lines, followed some of Evers’ proposals in the DNR. But all told, the GOP motion would borrow $28 million less than Evers had proposed and spend $9.2 million less.

While Republicans talked up the areas of agreement, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, said on the areas that are most important “we’re not even close.”

Evers had proposed adding five positions and creating a Bureau of Natural Resources Science. The move also would convert 14 positions now in the Office of Applied Science to the new bureau with the director serving as a science adviser to the agency secretary.

The move comes after Republicans sought in back-to-back budgets to scale back the agency’s research functions. In the 2015-17 budget, Republicans cut 18.4 scientist positions out of the 57.4 that existed at the time. The move was made as some argued the agency shouldn’t be involved in studying subjects such as climate change or the impact of mining.

In the 2017-19 budget, Republicans eliminated the Bureau of Integrated Science Services and transferred 37 positions to divisions within the agency.

Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua, said he was one of the leaders in the effort to eliminate the bureau, saying scientists were “freelancing” outside their disciplines. He criticized Evers’ proposal, saying it left too many unanswered questions on how the proposed scientists or the bureau head would operate.

He said the proposed bureau wouldn’t differ much from the existing Office of Applied Science and the guv’s proposal didn’t include specifics on how the proposed Bureau of Natural Resources Science director would serve as an adviser to the agency secretary. He noted at some point there will be a Republican guv again.

“You put that in there, who knows what that Republican governor is going to do, right?” Tiffany said.

— Dems also ripped the GOP motion for not taking up Evers’ proposal to increase fees on large-scale animal feeding operations — known as CAFOs — and then use the money to create five positions at the DNR to regulate the increased workload relating to the growing industry.

Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, said the committee plans to address the proposal when the committee takes up the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, said it was unbelievable that Republicans were failing to address contaminated drinking water that some have attributed to the increase in CAFOs. It means Republicans are willing to accept manure contamination in drinking water.

“This is ignoring manure coming out of people’s taps,” Taylor said. “They cannot drink the water. What would you do if you could not drink the water in your home?”

Read the GOP’s DNR motion:

— Co-chair Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the committee plans to meet again next Tuesday.

But she said it wasn’t yet determined what the committee plans to take up.

See the Budget Blog for more on all of yesterday’s actions:

— Gov. Tony Evers will visit an elementary school in Eau Claire today as he continues to make a push for his education proposal.

— Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, has appointed new Rep. Tip McGuire, D-Kenosha, to five committees.

They are: Criminal Justice and Public Safety; Community Development; Labor and Integrated Employment; State Affairs; and Ways and Means.

To make room for McGuire on the committees, Hintz removed five members from the bodies. They are:

*Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, D-Milwaukee, from Criminal Justice and Public Safety;

*Rep. Lisa Subeck, D-Madison, from Community Development;

*Rep. LaKeshia Myers, D-Milwaukee, from Labor and Integrated Employment;

*Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, D-Milwaukee, from State Affairs;

*And Rep. Steve Doyle, D-Onalaska, from Ways and Means.


June 13: luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit:


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GOP Lawmakers Reject Governor’s Spending Bump For UW System
JFC on 12-4 party line approved $58M boost for UW System — $72M less than Evers – and $45M of it would be subject to later committee approval after the system provides a report on how it would spend the money. Co-chair Nygren pitched it flexibility plus accountability, “There will always be a desire from some to spend more.” But UW Systems Pres. Cross groused, “The Legislature missed an opportunity to meet the future needs of this state. I feel like I’ve been kicked in the shins.” GOP accepted Evers’ tuition freeze, but removed $50M funding for it. JFC Dems GOyke and Taylor denounced funding pull. JFC approved boost for public defenders to $70/hr. Last year, lawyers and judges unsuccessfully petitioned state Supreme Court for the pay bump. DA’s and Asst. AG’s also got pay bump. Reps. GOyke, Loudenbeck comment. 12-4 approved only 2 of Evers’ 5 DNR scientists, scaled back his well-cleaning from $2M to $400K. Rep. Taylor wailed, “This is ignoring manure coming out of people’s taps,” but Sen. Tiffany dubbed it “responsible to the subject area we’re dealing with and to the taxpayers here in Wisconsin.”

[JFC on 12-4 party line] votes to boost district attorney, public defender pay
… adding a net of roughly 20 prosecutor positions and passed a $25.6 million plan to increase pay … to $70 per hour. “Lawyers aren’t taking these cases and we are in crisis,” said Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee. … Lawyers say the [present $40/hr] rate often isn’t enough to mount a serious defense. Private lawyers handle about 40% of the office’s cases. CJ Roggensack statement hailed vote to “strengthen and support Wisconsin’s justice system.”

GOP lawmakers cut $tens of millions$ from Evers’ clean water budget
… With the state’s contaminated drinking water becoming a bigger issue with voters, GOP leaders sought to minimize their differences with Evers. “There are so many things we have in common,” said [JFC co-chair] Darling. Rep. Taylor denounced the cuts, “They cannot drink the water. What would you do if you could not drink the water in your homes?” Co-chair Nygren said water quality is better than it was in the 1970s, “when you couldn’t see the bottom of the lake. … Some of the biggest manure production comes in this building,” wanted to explore moving CAFO regulation from DNR to DATCP, which industry supports and Walker previously proposed. More analysis, WDA’s Leitner comments.

Big dairy operations urge GOP to block fees for Tony Evers’ clean drinking water plan
… Under a 2009 law, each of the state’s 305 CAFOs pays a $345 annual permit fee. The DNR keeps $95 while the rest goes into the state’s general fund. … [but 2016 audit found DNR weak on enforcement, so] Evers plan would increase fees to $5,910, with higher amounts due for permit renewals to recognize the additional work for DNR staff. [adds 5 positions, bringing CAFO:DNR-staff ratio to 20:1]. … In four neighboring states the average is nearly $5,400 [over 5 years], ranging from $1,785 in Iowa to $12,660 for Minnesota, Wisconsin Dairy Alliance’s Leitner: “Dairies of all sizes have been (devastated) by low milk prices and tariffs in recent years. Now is not the time to nearly double the current $345 annual CAFO permit fee or implement a massive new five-year renewal fee on CAFOs.” MEA’s Kamp called it “a reasonable request … better reflects fees charged in neighboring states … better reflects the impact that these operations have on public health, drinking water and our state’s other water resources.” GOP Sen. Cowles bill would let DNR keep all $345. Green Fire says cows pollute more than people. UW Prof. Mitchell said mostly small farms have closed in dairy price recession, but some CAFOs have closed, WDA would not say how many. DATCP counted 1.3M dairy cattle, said farming contributes $88.3B/yr to economy. More analysis.

‘It ain’t fun anymore’: Auctioneers are busy selling off dying Wisconsin dairy farms
Auctioneers have an up-close view of the pain behind the dairy crisis. They see no sign of better times to come. … auctioneers are moving a dairy cow every 60 seconds. … Wisconsin lost 503 dairy farms in 2017 and 691 dairy farms in 2018. This year, as of May 1, the state had lost an additional 302 … worldwide glut of milk continues to drive down the price farmers receive, to the point that many barely break even or lose money. In 2018, for the third straight year, Wisconsin led the nation in farm bankruptcies — most of them family dairy operations … [2nd generation B&M Auctions] go where they’re needed — nearby, across the state or into Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois. Whatever the item, they’ll find a market: cows, milking machines, skid loaders, tractors, trucks, cars, lawn mowers, homes, antiques and collectibles. They once auctioned a plane. … “My grandpa told me 20 years ago to go find something else to do, this is a dying profession,” [auctioneer Cory Bidlingmaier] said. “I looked around the neighborhood and said, ‘Yeah, there’s more dairy than you think.’ … “It’s a struggle,” Cory acknowledged. “It’s a depression. We talk to people who start crying in front of you. I talked to a guy a few weeks ago. He’s fourth generation (dairy farmer) outside of Monroe. He said, ‘I’m going to have to sell, I can’t make it.’ … Unfortunately, when the agriculture world is in a crisis, we get busier,” Cory said. … [But] An auctioneer is paid on commission, and the market for dairy cows is weak. “Our margins aren’t any better,” Cory said. Auctioneer Board chair Thiel, farmer Dale Ryan, auctioneer Tom BIdling maier, auction buyer Krebs comment.

Conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Kelly Running For Full Term
Kelly Appointed In 2016 By Then-Gov. Scott Walker … at a press conference from the Wisconsin Supreme Court chamber, Kelly [with fellow GOP-backed conservatives Bradley, Hagedorn, Prosser] said he viewed the people of Wisconsin as his bosses … “We’ve been told by the people of Wisconsin they don’t want us to make the law, they just want us to apply it. And that’s what we do,” Kelly said. Hagedorn credited GOP activists for his 5,981-vote win. Kelly said he shares judicial philosophy with Hagedorn, said grassroots have called him to service, “They sought me out. They told me they wanted me to run. They said they would do whatever they can to help me in the campaign. And they’ve been with me every step of the way.” Rehash Hagedorn’s controversial writings. Kelly wrote a chapter in a 2014 book that compared affirmative action to slavery, saying that while they differed significantly, both forced people into unwanted economic relationships – a stance he compared to Justice Clarence Thomas, “one of the finest jurists this country has had the pleasure of seeing on that court. … Justice Thomas ought to know something about that. Not incidentally he’s a black man, and the grandson of sharecroppers. I figure, I can’t disagree with Justice Thomas.” Karofsky and Fallone are challenging Kelly. Justice Dallet email backed Karofsky. Madison attorney Tim Burns, an outspoken progressive who lost to Dallet in the 2018 Supreme Court primary, backs Fallone. February 2020 primary cuts to 2 with April 7 general – same day as Prez primary.

GOP bill would fund electric vehicle charging stations with VW settlement money
… [using $10M] to provide matching grants for new public charging stations. … similar to … [Evers’] 2019 budget proposal … already drawn support from renewable energy advocates, as well as utilities and consumer groups, and criticism from some traditionally conservative groups. … “This is where it’s going: electric cars, ladies and gentlemen,” bill co-sponsor Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, said Tuesday during a hearing before the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. “This is a chance for us to really get ahead of the curve.” Renew WI’s McCurry, Customers First!’s Gilkes, Rep.. Neylon comment.

EPA scientists raised concerns over smog designation in southeastern Wisconsin. Now the agency is reviewing the decision
… Foxconn, which is building a flat-screen manufacturing plant in Mount Pleasant, would represent a major new source of air pollution in the region, according to air emissions data filed by the company with the State of Wisconsin. … [but Pruitt’s EPA sided with then-GOv. Walker] Racine County was declared in compliance with the new standard. The EPA also exempted Waukesha and Washington counties. … [in documents released by the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin] “I do not see a sound technical basis for the areas we are being directed to finalize in Wisconsin,” said Jennifer Liljegren, an EPA physical scientist involved in the case. Her email to colleagues was dated April 11, 2018. Lars Perlmutt, an EPA health scientist, replied, “I have a background in air pollution health effects and more specifically on acute exposures, so for me personally, this is hard to digest and support.” … decision on May 1, 2018, to sharply limit geographical areas that would fall under more restrictive limits … EPA says in court documents that it wants more time to review its ozone decision.

Solar developer sues PSC, We Energies over denial of Milwaukee rooftop project
… Eagle Point Solar … is asking the courts to intervene where [PSC] has not in preventing We Energies from interfering in its contract with the city. … seeking a declaration that its contract to lease solar panels to the city would not make it a utility subject to PSC regulation. We Energies opposed plan, PSC 2-1 ruled against EPS. … “If anyone sells electricity to our customers, they should be viewed as a public utility and should be registered as such,” [We Energies’] Conway said. “In Eagle Point’s case, because we already provide retail electric service to the city, Wisconsin law prohibits Eagle Point from doing so.” PSC did not respond. EPS chief Shear cited similar case won in IA. Dissenting Commissioner Valcq felt lease was just a financing method.

Walker supports coding school where a student can pay nothing until landing a job
… [ex-guv] Walker visited DevCodeCamp [in Milwaukee co-working space Ward4] to learn about its new income share agreement and talk with students. DevCodeCamp, which started in 2015, runs a 12-week program where students learn development skills. … students pay no money to DevCodeCamp until after graduating and starting a job that pays more than $40,000 a year. Students will then pay 15% of their income for three years. … Walker said right now his involvement is “just promoting — it’s an interesting topic. … If people like Mitch Daniels and others at Purdue are doing it, there’s no reason why it can’t be replicated at a traditional undergraduate program out there. … I think it could be done anywhere: public, private, college, university. The idea being that it puts the focal point on getting it done quickly. A lot of the times students don’t have the money up front.”


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– 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m.: Rep. Allen fundraiser.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections executive session on AB 168, relating to the requirement for stating name and address prior to voting; and AB 64, relating to aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs.

– 10 a.m.: PSC hearing.

– 10:05 a.m.: Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues executive session on SB 48, relating to allowing an elector to show his or her marked ballot; and SB 71, relating to aids to counties and municipalities for certain special election costs.

– 10:10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections, Senate Committee on Elections, Ethics and Rural Issues joint public hearing on AB 203, relating to using an electronic voting machine to cast a vote with an in-person absentee ballot; LRB-3377/1, relating to elections administration, recall petitions and recount procedures; LRB-3378/1, relating to absentee voting and voting procedures; and LRB-3379/1, relating to voter registration.

– 10:30 a.m.: Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality public hearing. Janesville.

– 10:30 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy public hearing on AB 234, relating to limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.

– 1 p.m.: Senate Committee on Utilities and Housing public hearing on SB 153, relating to submission of building permit applications for one-family and two-family dwellings; and SB 239, relating to limiting the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate certain wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.

– 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.: Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters panel on financing higher education. Panelists include: Catherine Kodat, provost and dean of faculty at Lawrence University; John Achter, associate dean of students at UW-Stout; Keegan Kyle, investigative journalist; Sarah Weiss, assistant director at Upward Bound at Beloit College, and UW-Milwaukee graduate student Nikita Werner.

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