One-Hundred and Third Regular Session
11:17 A.M. THURSDAY, September 21, 2017
The Assembly met in the Assembly Chamber located in the State Capitol.
Speaker Pro Tempore August in the Chair.
The Assembly dispensed with the call of the roll.
Representative Swearingen moved that the Assembly stand adjourned pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 1.
The question was: Shall the Assembly stand adjourned?
The Assembly stood adjourned.
State of Wisconsin
Office of the Governor
September 21, 2017
To the Honorable Members of the Assembly:
The following bill, originating in the Assembly, has been approved, signed and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State:
Bill Number Act Number Date Approved
(in part) 59 September 21, 2017
Pursuant to s. 35.095 (1)(b), Wisconsin Statutes, the following 2017 Act has been published:
Act Number Bill Number Publication Date
hist75000Wisconsin Act 59….Assembly Bill 64..September 22, 2017
Governor’s Veto Message
September 21, 2017
To the Honorable Members of the Assembly:
Assembly Bill 64 as 2017 Wisconsin Act 59 is approved and deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.
This budget as introduced was organized around three main priorities: student success, accountable government, and rewarding work. Working together, we have maintained these priorities proving once again that Wisconsin is Working.
While we have been working on a budget, our state has continued to thrive. Our state’s unemployment rate reached a 17-year low in 2017, the lowest this century. This year, there were more people employed in our state than ever before. We have a labor force participation rate that is in the top ten of all states. Our state’s private sector average weekly wage growth six years since taking office, is ranked 12th best in the nation.
Our state’s business climate is ranked in the top ten of the nation by Chief Executive Magazine. This is up from being among the ten worst in the nation when we took office. This coupled with common sense reforms have led to businesses locating and growing in Wisconsin. There has been job growth and investment all over the state; including the largest investment in state history with $10 billion in private sector investment and up to 13,000 jobs to be created by one employer. This shows Wisconsin is leading the nation to again manufacture goods in America, right here in Wisconsin. Working together, this budget will continue to maintain these successes.
This budget is built upon a reform dividend. Lower than estimated state spending and higher than previously estimated revenues resulted in a dividend that we are investing into our priorities. Continuing this trend, the latest fiscal year closed with revenues higher than previously estimated. This budget is projected to end with more than a $200 million surplus. When I first took office as Governor, Wisconsin was plagued by billion dollar deficits, double digit tax increases, and high unemployment. Today, years of fiscally responsible budgeting and bold common sense reforms have led to surpluses, billions in tax cuts, and some of the lowest unemployment this century.
Since we took office, Wisconsin has ended every year with a surplus. This budget continues that trend and in addition maintains a rainy day fund that is nearly $300 million. In fact, it is 168 times larger than when we first took office. Not only are our finances under control, but our state’s bonding is being maintained at a reasonably low level. Total new bonding authorized in this and last budget combined is the lowest back-to-back in at least 20 years. We are also paying off debt faster than we are authorizing new borrowing. We are one of only a handful of states with a fully-funded pension system. Our credit rating was just upgraded by Moody’s for the first time since 1973 and our state’s long-term obligations are some of the lowest of any state in the nation. This is all great news for state residents and a good foundation for our state’s financial future.
Investing in student success is an important part of maintaining this positive momentum in our state. This budget appropriates the largest amount of total state dollars into K-12 education of any budget in state history. The increase is the largest in a decade and total state support for K‑12 will be the highest in a decade as well. We invest heavily in all schools as well as target dollars to school mental health, special needs, and broadband programs. These investments will help our students succeed and our state to prosper.
Additionally, we invest in higher education. We make the largest investment into the University of Wisconsin System in a decade by increasing state funding by nearly $100 million. We enact performance funding to ensure focus on student achievement, finishing college on time, and college affordability. We also freeze resident undergraduate tuition for a record six straight years. It is estimated this has saved the average student $6,311 over the last four years compared to the prior ten-year trend.
We are investing into our Technical College System. We set aside $5,000,000 for our technical colleges to partner with businesses to fill high demand jobs. In addition, a significant investment is made into need-based aid for technical college students. Overall, funding for Wisconsin Grant need-based aid will rise to the highest appropriated level in state history.
These investments into need-based aid coupled with freezing college tuition will make getting a degree or certificate more affordable. This will reduce student debt and build upon other positive reforms we have enacted to get students educated, graduate on time, and into the workforce with the skills they need to fill high demand jobs. Lowering the cost of higher education and giving students the skills they need to pursue successful careers can reduce student debt in meaningful ways for future generations.
This budget exemplifies our commitment to accountable government as well. We continue to reduce the tax burden on Wisconsin residents. In total, the cumulative tax cuts since we took office will rise to more than $8 billion with this budget. This includes eliminating the state levied property tax. This is one of the actions taken to meet our commitment to reduce property taxes. This budget is estimated to maintain a property tax bill for a typical homeowner in 2018 that is lower than it was in 2014, which is lower than it was when we first took office in 2010. This has cumulatively saved the typical homeowner thousands compared to the trend prior to us taking office. That is truly amazing.
This budget also reduces the personal property tax. This tax cut will directly benefit small businesses all throughout the state. Our efforts to reduce the tax burden in Wisconsin have been significant. Since we took office, only two other states’ tax burdens improved more than Wisconsin. This is helping to create jobs, grow our economy, and make Wisconsin a more attractive place to live, work, and grow businesses.
This budget and a separate proposal that invests in the I-94 North-South corridor both invest heavily in our state’s infrastructure. Total transportation investments exceed $6 billion. Including these investments, compared to the eight years prior to us taking office, this is more than an additional $3 billion investment into our state’s infrastructure. These investments will build upon our top ten ranked state and local spending on highways per capita in 2014.
The investments in infrastructure include the largest increases in local road aids in 20 years, significant investments into safety and maintenance, and we keep vital major road projects on schedule, such as the I-39/90, USH 10-441, and Verona Road projects. State highway rehabilitation receives a significant investment that utilizes higher than anticipated savings to keep projects on time. Also, in this budget total borrowing for roads is the lowest since the 2001-03 biennium and we didn’t raise the gas tax.
Our state’s employers are telling us they need more workers. This budget meets this need by focusing on rewarding work. One way to accomplish this is by getting more able-bodied individuals trained, off government dependence, and into the dignity and independence that comes from work.
To do this, we continue to expand our drug testing and treatment programs so we can get those in need treatment and ultimately employment. We provide able-bodied adults on public assistance programs opportunities to become trained and join the workforce. We also expand upon our successful workforce training programs such as Wisconsin Fast Forward and our apprenticeship programs to get those seeking employment the skills they need for a successful career.
Wisconsin is working and the policies in this budget will keep Wisconsin moving forward.
I am pleased that the Legislature agreed with my priorities to cut property taxes, fund K-12 education at record levels, and to heavily invest in our state’s infrastructure. This budget proves we can work together to meet our shared goals.
These are short summaries of how this budget promotes student success, advances accountable government, and prioritizes rewarding work:
This budget appropriates the largest amount of state dollars into K-12 education in state history at $11,525,378,600 in general and categorical aids. In total, schools will receive a $636,272,000 increase in general and categorical aids which is the largest in a decade. State support for K-12 will also rise to the highest level in a decade.
Investments into broadband are increased by $35,500,000 over the biennium. The investments will benefit rural schools, public library systems, and underserved areas of the state. A permanent Broadband Expansion Grant program will also be created to continue our efforts to extend broadband into underserved areas of Wisconsin.
New funding for school mental health programs is included. This includes $3,000,000 for school social workers, $3,250,000 for schools that collaborate with providers to provide mental health services for pupils, and $1,000,000, including funding provided in 2017 Wisconsin Act 31, to support mental health screening and trauma informed care training for school staff.
A $6,100,000 investment is made into special education incentives. This program provides incentives for schools to enroll special needs students into a postsecondary education training program or become employed. An additional $1,500,000 is invested into a special education transition readiness grant program. These grants would fund transportation for special needs students to internships or work, training for school staff, and additional staff to support coordinating work experiences for special needs students with local businesses and organizations.
High Cost Transportation Aid is fully funded with an additional $10,400,000 over the biennium. This will fully reimburse school districts with comparatively high transportation costs. Eligible districts have costs higher than 150 percent of the state average and 50 pupils or less per square mile.
We create and fund a teacher development grant program under which school districts may partner with an educator preparation program to prepare certain nonteacher school district employees to become teachers. Private schools and charter organizations would also be eligible if they partner with an educator preparation program approved by the Department of Public Instruction. This program provides a tool schools can use to address teacher shortages or curriculum expansions.
We continue the resident undergraduate tuition freeze at University of Wisconsin System schools for historic fifth and sixth straight years. Tens of thousands of students have benefited from this freeze since it went into effect four years ago. Since its first year, a student graduating in four years was estimated to have saved $6,311 compared to the prior ten-year annual average due to the freeze.
We implement performance funding for the University of Wisconsin System. An investment of $26,250,000 was made into performance funding based on student completion, access, contributions to the workforce, and operational efficiency.
We invest an additional $5,000,000 into the University of Wisconsin System to increase enrollments in high demand degree programs.
We increase Wisconsin Grant program need-based financial aid by roughly $15,000,000. This increase will push total need-based aid to the highest appropriated level in state history. Thousands of students will receive aid due to this action that reduces the cost and potentially the debt of graduates.
We extend the Wisconsin veterans tuition remission benefit to certain children and spouses. This will ensure disabled veterans' spouses and children will be eligible for tuition and fee remission at University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical College System schools if they have been state residents for five or more years.
We provide $648,000 in need-based financial aid for Flexible Option students. Also, we require the Board of Regents to increase the number of Flexible Option degree and certificate programs by 100 percent.
We provide $100,000 in new funding for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
We provide $490,000 in new funding annually for the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center.
We require the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical College System to recognize service members' postsecondary credits recommended by the American Council on Education. This will assist our veterans by saving education costs as they transition from service to civilian life.
We authorize the Board of Regents to create a school of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Engineering positions are in high demand all over the state, but particularly in Northeast Wisconsin.
This budget keeps our commitment to reduce property taxes. Property taxes for the typical homeowner are estimated to be lower in 2018 than they were in 2014, which is lower than they were when we took office in 2010. This is estimated to cumulatively save the typical homeowner roughly $3,000 compared to the trend prior to 2010.
Including this budget, we provided over $8 billion in cumulative tax relief since 2010. This includes reducing income tax brackets, cutting income taxes for all Wisconsin earners focused on the middleclass, and enacting a tax credit for our manufacturing and agriculture industries that is making Wisconsin a destination for employers to locate and expand.
In this budget, we eliminate the state levied property tax. This historic action is coupled with other property tax relief measures that are keeping property taxes down in Wisconsin. This keeps more money in families' pockets and makes Wisconsin an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.
We invest $86,935,200 into general transportation aids and into the Local Road Improvement and Bridge Improvement Assistance Programs. These increases for local government general aids are the largest in 20 years.
This budget provides a $63,710,000 increase in safety and maintenance funding. Of this, $33,733,000 will go to Wisconsin’s counties to perform highway maintenance. This increases the total to $373,733,000 over the budget biennium for county performed maintenance.
We provide a significant $1,619,432,400 for State Highway Rehabilitation. This funding will allow the state to complete projects on time, but at a lower cost largely due to savings from competitive bids and lower fuel prices.
The budget provides $563,700,000 for major projects. This funding will keep the I-39/90, USH 10-441, and Verona Road projects on time. The budget also reserves $19.4 million in anticipated project let savings for STH 23.
This budget has numerous provisions that will result in savings to be reinvested into our infrastructure. These include repealing prevailing wage, cutting unneeded positions at the Department of Transportation, and enacting institutional reforms at the department that will together save tens of millions of dollars.
We create a human resources shared services initiative to save taxpayers $2,800,000 over just the next two years. This initiative will streamline human resources policies for better implementation at a reduced cost to taxpayers.