WED PM Update: Fitz: Republicans headed similar direction on schools, Dems slam $500 million boost as inadequate

Exclusively for WisPolitics Subscribers

From …

— Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Republicans are headed in a similar direction after his Assembly colleagues unveiled a $500 million plan for K-12 education.

But Dem members of the Joint Finance Committee slammed the proposal as inadequate because it was well short of the additional $1.4 billion that Gov. Tony Evers proposed for schools.

The Assembly GOP plan — which includes raising revenue limits by similar amounts to what Evers proposed — would greatly scale back the guv’s proposed $606 million increase for special education. The aid, which hasn’t seen an increase in more than a decade, would see a $50 million boost under the Assembly GOP plan.

Some three dozen Assembly Republicans gathered in the chamber this afternoon to announce the plan promoting it as a “kid friendly” proposal. That’s a play off Evers’ initial reaction to the 2017-19 budget after then-Gov. Scott Walker proposed a $640 million boost for K-12 education.

Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the Assembly GOP plan focused on targeting additional aid to the classroom.

“If the last budget was kid friendly, this is like kid friendly-plus,” Vos said.

The plan was released on the eve of the Joint Finance Committee taking up education funding. Both GOP caucuses met today, and Fitzgerald said he had a “great discussion” with his members.

“The caucuses in both houses seem to be headed in a very similar direction in crafting another pro-kid budget,” he said.

— Dems were quick to point out the Assembly GOP’s special ed proposal was 90 percent less than what Evers proposed.

What’s more, it would only raise Wisconsin’s reimbursement rate — among the lowest in the country — to 28 percent from the current 25 percent. Dems pointed out state’s special needs scholarship under the school choice program could reimburse 90 percent of the cost to educate those kids starting in 2019-20.

“If they’re willing to make the commitment for some, they should be willing to make the commitment for all,” said Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee.

Dems also slammed the proposal as a sign Republicans’ top priorities weren’t Wisconsin’s public school students, but protecting tax breaks for the wealthy.

The Assembly GOP plan would restore the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of public school costs. But Rep. Chris Taylor, a member of the Finance Committee, called it inadequate after schools struggled for the past eight years under unified GOP control of the state Capitol.

“It’s just a piece of the puzzle,” the Madison Dem said of restoring two-thirds funding. “It seems like my Republican colleagues are leaving the rest of the puzzle behind and leaving our children behind in the process.”

— The Assembly GOP plan includes:

*raising revenue limits by $200 per student in the first year of the budget and an additional $204 in the second year through the school funding formula, which distributes aid based on property values. Some of that increase would be paid for by property tax increases.

*$50 million more in funding for special education, a 13 percent increase.

*an additional $20 million for student mental health.

*an additional $4.6 million for high-cost transportation. Evers had proposed a $2.3 million boost in the second year of the biennium.

*raising the revenue caps for low-spending districts to $10,000 over the next two years. They’re now at $9,400.

Evers’ budget was projected to result in an increase in property tax bills of $56 in the first year of the budget and $48 in the second year. That amounts to an increase of 2 percent and 1.6 percent.

Vos said the Assembly GOP plan would result in increases of less than 1 percent.

— Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos today continued to spar with Gov. Evers over Dem claims that GOP leaders are unwilling to work with the guv’s chief of staff because she’s a woman.

The two leaders met with Evers this morning.

Fitzgerald told reporters afterward that there was “a discussion about back-and-forth between the administration and the legislature” but declined to provide any further details.

The issue flared up at the state GOP convention last weekend as Fitzgerald and Vos complained to party activists that they don’t have a relationship with the guv. Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff suggested it was because chief of staff Maggie Gau is a woman, saying Fitzgerald and Vos had no qualms about negotiating with former Gov. Scott Walker’s chiefs of staff, who were all men.

Vos responded to the dig with a tweet pointing out his chief of staff, communications director and policy director are all women.

Evers declined to address the controversy when pressed by reporters at a Monday news conference on an automatic voter registration bill, but later in the day issued a statement saying only Fitzgerald and Vos can say why they won’t “work with the women who are leading my office.”

“They know how to work with my staff and are choosing not to. So, this is clearly a departure from past practice. You connect the dots,” Evers said.

Asked about the issue today, Vos highlighted the sequence of those events and noted that the guv still had not addressed the claims directly.

“Maybe you should ask which is the real story,” he said.

— The Legislative Fiscal Bureau has posted the motions that cleared Joint Finance yesterday.

See the motions:

— Five GOP lawmakers — one of them a member of the Finance Committee — proposed 15 bills today to address construction costs, including one that would transfer auto-related sales taxes to the transportation fund over a 15-year period.

The transfers would begin at 10 percent of those sales tax collections, about $103 million in the first year, and climb to 50 percent, estimated at $517 million in the last year.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Sens. Tom Tiffany, who sits on Finance, Dave Craig, Chris Kapenga and Steve Nass wrote in a co-sponsorship memo that the amount they’re proposing to transfer reflects the average growth the state has seen in the last several years. They argue that means “it is only new money and does not take funding away from other state programs.”

A frequent criticism of the approach has been that it would mean taking taxpayer money that would normally go to schools or Medicaid costs, for example, and transferring it to road work.

Other pieces of the package include requiring a local referendum to approve a wheel tax and local approval before installing a roundabout.

Before expanding the footprint of an existing highway, the DOT would have to prove it was necessary for safety or to meet estimated traffic volume.

— Several people with Wisconsin connections have been appointed to positions with the Dems’ national convention in Milwaukee next summer.

Teresa Vilmain, a longtime Dem operative who lives in Wisconsin, was announced today as a senior adviser.


*Liz Gilbert, a UW-Madison grad, will serve as the host committee executive director;

*Shirley Ellis, a Milwaukee operative who’s worked with U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, will serve as senior adviser to the host committee;

*Marcus Switzer, a Milwaukee native, will serve as host committee finance director;

*Martha Love, a DNC member from Wisconsin, will serve as host committee senior adviser;

*Alex Lasry, senior vice president for the Milwaukee Bucks and chair of the Milwaukee DNC bid committee, will serve as finance chair for the host committee.

See the release:

— State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski is circulating a fundraising email knocking Republicans nationwide for “extremist bans on abortion.”

“Make no mistake about it, this is a war on women. Extreme politicians and their special interest allies are attacking our access to safe and legal reproductive healthcare,” the email reads, before displaying a link to a petition.

The email, sent yesterday evening, then calls on readers to “reject the vision of extremist Republicans” and includes a link to Godlewski’s ActBlue fundraising page.

Wisconsin lawmakers are currently clashing over a package of four abortion-related measures that passed the Assembly last week. Gov. Tony Evers says he opposes the measures and will veto the package should it pass the Senate, where the bills are expected to be taken up in June.

As state treasurer, Godlewski does not play a role in the legislative process and funds collected through the email will go to her campaign committee. A spokesman indicated she would use to money to support pro-choice candidates.

See the email:


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:



LRB-1456/1: Requiring a registered elector who has changed his or her name or address to complete a new voter registration. By Reps. Tusler and Zamarripa and Sens. Bernier, Miller and Smith.

LRB-2186/1: Making various changes to the state’s election laws. By Reps. Tusler and Zamarripa and Sens. Bernier, Miller and Smith.

LRB-2329/1: Making the following changes to the election laws regarding absentee voting and voting procedures. By Reps. Tusler and Zamarripa and Sens. Bernier, Miller and Smith.


AB 229: Creating a Joint Committee on State Mandates and required funding of state mandates. Referred to Committee on State Affairs.

AB 230: Transferring academic credits from military transcripts to University of Wisconsin System schools and technical colleges. Referred to Committee on Colleges and Universities.

AB 231: Creating an income tax exemption for cash tips paid to an employee. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

AB 232: Creating teacher preparatory programs and granting rule-making authority. Referred to Committee on Education.

AB 233: Creating a charging facility grant program and making an appropriation. Referred to Committee on Energy and Utilities.

Track bills for free:

Capital Times: Wisconsin Assembly Republicans’ plan would increase K-12 funding $500 million–funding-million/article_0712a2ed-5edc-54cb-aebe-aa04b56fafec.html

Journal Sentinel: Liz Gilbert named executive director of 2020 DNC local organizing committee

AP: DNR board OKs bear revisions, disallows hounds in new zone

WPR: UW President Says Budget Process Increasing Competition Between Schools

Politico: Trump blows up White House meeting over nasty feud with Pelosi

Politico: Judge sides with Democrats in Trump bank subpoena fight

Reuters: Democrats to press Trump on paying for infrastructure boost

Reuters: Worried by Iran tensions, U.S. lawmakers seek end to law of ‘endless war’

Washington Post: Trump officials struggle to fight the fentanyl crisis

Washington Post: DeVos family ends financial support for Rep. Amash

New York Times: Justice Dept. Says It Will Share Some Mueller-Related Intelligence With House Committee

New York Times: Mnuchin Dismisses I.R.S. Memo Saying Treasury Must Release Trump Tax Returns


– 12 a.m.: Wisconsin Veterans Business Conference. Keynote speaker is former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Ways and Means public hearing on AB 88, relating to reducing the eligibility threshold to claim the veterans and surviving spouses property tax credit.

– 10:05 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Ways and Means executive session on AB 73, relating to lease terms and the imposition of sales and use taxes related to a local professional baseball park district; and AB 101, relating to elimination of family support.

– 11 a.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session on the Department of Public Instruction budget.

– 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.: Rep. Macco fundraiser.

– 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.: Rep. Dittrich Birthday Fundraiser.

All rights reserved. Reproduction or retransmission of this publication, in whole or in part, without the express permission of is prohibited. Unauthorized reproduction violates United States copyright law (17 USC 101 et seq.), as does retransmission by facsimile or any other electronic means, including electronic mail.