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Category: State budget

Wisconsin budget reserves, federal funds could be factors in governor’s race

Wisconsin Public Radio

“(Evers) has resources to do things that I think were not expected and are available without him having to raise taxes to make it possible,” said Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “The fact that he is basically in sole control of distributing the federal COVID relief funds means that he’s satisfying a lot of different constituencies heading into the 2022 midterm elections without paying the price of being branded as a liberal Democrat who has raised taxes to make that happen.”

UW Expert: Child Tax Credit End Could Be ‘Devastating’ for WI Families

WXPR

Wisconsin families may have received their last Child Tax Credit payment for a while, as Congress has missed its year-end deadline to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better framework.

The roughly $2 trillion package would have reauthorized the expanded Child Tax Credit through 2022. Parents received their last credit on Dec. 15, and Timothy Smeeding, professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, said to get the rest of the aid, they’ll need to file their income tax returns for 2021.

“So, there’s still another $1,500 or $1,800, depending on how old the child is, that will come to them once they file their taxes this next spring,” he said.

How your tax dollars keep Milwaukee renters in danger from faulty wiring

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: The Journal Sentinel’s findings that tax dollars are going to landlords who fail to fix potentially dangerous electrical violations are “shocking and terrible,” said Mitch, a housing law expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who legally goes by just his first name.

“It would be as if a health inspector found rats at a restaurant and said, ‘Here’s a whole bunch of government coupons that you can use to give out and make your food less expensive — never mind the rats,’” he said.

Mitch, who oversees the UW-Madison Neighborhood Law Clinic, which primarily serves low-income renters, said it’s possible to hold landlords accountable while still protecting tenants.

“We can have safe cars, and people still buy cars,” he said. “We can have regulations on restaurants, and we still have restaurants. We have regulations on banking, and we still have banks. Every industry has regulations, and it still survives.”

As a new academic year begins, the state should recommit itself to the Wisconsin Idea

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This August, faculty, staff, and more than 160,000 students at the 13 University of Wisconsin campuses are hard at work, getting ready for a new academic year.  Wisconsinites are justifiably proud of the UW System, and with good reason. Our public university system, built on the foundation of the Wisconsin Idea, truly serves every corner of the state.

Gov. Tony Evers Calls Special Session On Increasing School Spending

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: The governor said the session would be an opportunity to make investments in education he believes should have been included in the budget. GOP lawmakers approved an education spending plan that was roughly $750 million less than the governor originally requested for K-12 schools. For the University of Wisconsin System, the GOP-backed budget included an increase of just $8 million over two years, a fraction of the $191 million proposed by the governor.

Why Did Evers Veto An Update to Withholding Tables After a Tax Cut?

PBS Wisconsin

Quoted: “This is the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. I have no idea why he did that,” said John Witte, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus who specializes in tax and budget policy.

Witte said there is speculation that Evers vetoed the change in the withholding tables because the governor hopes Democrats will take control of the Legislature in the 2022 election and repeal the tax cuts. By not changing the withholding tables, most taxpayers wouldn’t notice a difference, that thinking goes.

“If he changed the tables the tax cuts would be permanent,” said Witte.

Tom Still: Wisconsin must step up to compete for federal R&D dollars

Wisconsin State Journal

States around the country are gearing up for projects that could pair engineering schools and industry, but the dean of UW-Madison’s College of Engineering warned this week the state will be at a disadvantage unless there’s more investment in infrastructure needed to compete. “If we don’t act soon, we’re going to lose out,” said Ian Robertson, dean of Madison’s 4,500-student engineering college. “Others are going to get ahead of us. They’re all gearing up to go after the Endless Frontier money. It’s that simple.”

Gov. Evers stresses importance of vaccines after someone at budget signing event tests positive for COVID-19

CBS 58

Quoted: Ajay Sethi, professor of population health sciences at UW-Madison, said this scenario is proof the pandemic is not over.

“It’s a good reminder that anybody who is not yet vaccinated against COVID-19 really ought to do so because as soon as you leave your house without a mask, you have a risk of catching the virus,” said Sethi.

‘I Think The Governor Wins’: Experts Weigh In On Political Spin Of State Budget

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Barry Burden, director of the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison, agreed the tax cut will likely play to the governor’s advantage during campaign season.

“He will not be easy to paint as a tax-and-spend liberal,” Burden said. “I think (the tax cut) takes the edge off some of the criticism that Republicans would use.”

Wisconsin Assembly approves state budget, Senate up next

Wisconsin State Journal

The centerpiece of the two-year budget is a GOP-authored plan to cut $3.3 billion in income and property taxes, made possible largely by the state’s unprecedented $4.4 billion surplus. The budget also would end an eight-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition and hold K-12 funding largely flat. All in all, the budget would spend about $4 billion less than Evers proposed.

GOP Lawmakers Want Answers On Unemployment Fraud In Wisconsin

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: One interpretation of that data, said economist Noah Williams of the conservative Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is that “fraud detection basically dropped to near zero” in 2020.

“We had a huge explosion in claims in 2020, but the actual cases in the state that were referred for fraud fell,” Williams said. “We don’t know how big the problem is, but … I wouldn’t have expected the absolute number of cases to fall.”

Wisconsin projects $4.4B more in tax revenue by mid-2023 following ‘unprecedented’ tax collections

Wisconsin State Journal

In light of the new projections, Evers also announced that an estimated $300 million in cost savings across 18 state agencies — which the governor called for during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — would be returned to those departments. That includes more than $45 million to the University of Wisconsin System, $5 million to the Wisconsin Technical College System and nearly $25 million to the Department of Children and Families.

Wisconsin Republicans approve $1.5 billion for state building projects

Wisconsin State Journal

A little less than half of the GOP proposal, or nearly $629 million, is earmarked for the University of Wisconsin System. Evers had asked for about $1 billion for UW campuses. Humanities is on track to be demolished by 2030 because the committee approved $88 million for a new academic building that will move many academic departments housed in Humanities to the new facility. A quarter of the cost will be covered through fundraising with the rest supported through state borrowing.

Republican Lawmakers Reject Badgercare Expansion

WORT FM

Quoted: Evers’ bid to bolster Medicaid is less an “expansion” and more of a “restoration,” according to Donna Friedsam, a researcher with UW-Madison’s Institute for Research on Poverty.

Friedsam says that, prior to the Affordable Care Act, Wisconsin’s medicaid program covered parents and caretaker adults at up to double the federal poverty level.

“So, when the ACA came along, it said all states should cover everybody, no matter who they are, up to a certain level of 138% of the federal poverty level,” she told WORT. In 2021, 138% of the federal poverty level is about $17,700 for a single person.

As a congressional ban on earmarks is lifted, some Wisconsin lawmakers request millions for their districts, others nothing

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: The Second District Democrat has requested nine earmarks for road and bridge projects totaling $20 million and 30 earmarks for community projects totaling $56 million. The most expensive of these community projects is a $24 million plant research facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to replace a plant breeding facility that Pocan described as an “outdated World War Two building.”

Some of the other requests: $4 million to support the replacement of a 69-year-old hospital in Darlington (Lafayette County);  $2.2 million for technology and equipment for the Baraboo fire and ambulance service; $1 million for a new Madison homeless shelter; $1 million toward a new Center for Black Excellence and Culture in Madison; $2.5 million for traumatic brain injury research at UW-Madison;  $220,000 for a Reedsburg community center, $848,000 to upgrade Fitchburg’s stormwater management; and $400,000 for a machine shop and shed at the Wisconsin Cranberry Research Station in Black River Falls.

Budget-writing committee begins work by stripping hundred of Evers items out

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: The two-year state budget plan also won’t allow the University of Wisconsin System to borrow for operational expenses, restore collective bargaining for public employees, make Juneteenth a state holiday, create a so-called red flag law for gun owners or adopt maps from the governor’s redistricting commission, among other proposals.

Wisconsin budget battle begins: GOP lawmakers plan to remove 280 items from Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: The two-year state budget plan also won’t allow the University of Wisconsin System to borrow for operational expenses, restore collective bargaining for public employees, make Juneteenth a state holiday, create a so-called red flag law for gun owners or adopt maps from the governor’s redistricting commission.

Republicans plan to remove hundreds of items from Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal

Wisconsin State Journal

Republicans are also stripping the budget of proposals to allow the University of Wisconsin System to borrow money for operational expenses. They also stripped a provision that would have expanded a tuition promise program to all of the state’s universities and their branch campuses, building off a UW-Madison tuition promise, which provides free tuition to students from families making up to $60,000.

A minor change could bring the state $1.6 billion in federal dollars. Republican legislators are uninterested.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Republicans in Wisconsin first took their stance when Scott Walker was governor, contending that the federal government eventually could stop paying as much as promised for the expansion.

“There might be a little bit of Scott Walker legacy in all of this,” said Barry Burden, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Gov. Tony Evers authorizes emergency work after concrete slabs fall at UW-Madison. Tommy Thompson says other campuses have similar problems.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers authorized emergency work on the 19-floor Madison building that houses the University of Wisconsin System’s headquarters Thursday after two precast concrete railing slabs fell from the third floor.

The 10-by-6 foot slabs fell from Van Hise Hall on UW-Madison’s campus Sunday, landing directly in front of the building’s entrance. No one was injured.

Evers directs millions for climate change initiatives in budget, putting focus on green energy in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted:

Also included in the budget: $100 million in borrowing for clean energy conservation projects at state agencies and the University of Wisconsin System, helping to meet goals of energy reduction and reduced utility costs. The savings on utility prices would be used to pay off the bonds.

Paul Fanlund: These UW-Madison students solve problems across the state

The Capital Times

An example is a $600,000 item buried in Gov. Tony Evers’ $91-billion proposed two-year state budget. The money would expand a six-year-old University of Wisconsin-Madison program designed to tap the expertise and energy of students on the flagship Madison campus to solve problems and improve lives in communities throughout Wisconsin.