By Shawn Pfaff

Governor to Introduce Budget on Tuesday

Governor Evers will introduce his 2021-23 biennial budget on Tuesday through a virtual address to the GOP-led state legislature. The two-year spending document will be the Democratic Governor’s second budget and most likely will be considered his “re-election budget”. (Evers has not yet announced his plans for the 2022 election).

The fiscal condition of the state is in a much better place than many had expected heading into the upcoming budget debate. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) recently released budget projections that show state coffers with an additional $1.2 billion surplus.https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/state-revenue-projections-more-than-1-billion-higher-than-november-estimate/article_9b21bc09-3757-5b72-b7d8-315240cca31b.html

Evers has made several announcements about his upcoming budget such as: legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes, nearly $50 million investment in agriculture production and exports and conservation, more than $200 million in broadband expansion and acceptance of federal Medicaid funding.

https://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2021/01/13/evers-pitches-200-million-broadband-spending-consumer-subsidies/4149601001/

New Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs State Senator Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) and State Representative Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) sent Governor Evers a letter urging caution to him about increasing spending. https://wasb.org/budget-committee-co-chairs-send-letter-warning-gov-evers-to-propose-responsible-budget/

Upcoming Budget Timeline

February 16, 2021- Governor Evers Delivers Biennial Budget Address (7 p.m. – virtually)

March/April 2021 – Joint Finance Committee hearings on biennial budget (see list of members below)

May/June 2021 – Joint Finance Committee and legislative chambers debate state budget

June 30, 2021 – 2020 fiscal year ends

July 1, 2021 – 2021 fiscal year starts

July (mid) 2021 – Governor Evers signs 2021-23 biennial budget

(JFC hearings and budget debate and signing dates are speculative but based on past budget years)

JFC Members

16 total members; 8 from both the Senate and Assembly – 12 GOP, 4 Democrats

https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2021/committees/joint/2293

Representative Born (Co-Chair) (R-Beaver Dam)

Senator Marklein (Co-Chair) (R-Dodgeville)

Senator Stroebel (R-Saukville)

Senator Kooyenga (R-Wauwatosa)

Senator Felzkowski (R-Irma)

Senator Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls)

Senator Ballweg (R-Markesan)

Senator Erpenbach (D-West Point)

Senator Johnson (D-Milwaukee)

Representative Loudenbeck (R-Chilton)

Representative Katsma (R-Ootsburg)

Representative Zimmerman (R-River Falls)

Representative J. Rodriguez (R-South Milwaukee)

Representative Kurtz (R-Wonewoc)

Representative Goyke (D-Milwaukee)

Representative Neubauer (D-Racine)

Other “Hot Button” Current Capitol Issues

AB 1 – Covid Relief Bill – include COVID liability protections, funding for other COVID relief measures and testing, etc. Governor vetoed bill after bill was changed by GOP Assembly.

https://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/republican-health-committee-leaders-offer-differing-views-on-future-covid-19-legislation/article_a3ec1026-9891-526b-a7bd-9f1ce8800d61.html

Mask Mandate – GOP-led legislature passed a resolution to remove Governor’s emergency order that mandates wearing of masks. Governor immediately introduce another emergency order mandating mask wearing. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/wisconsin-s-legislature-repealed-gov-tony-evers-mask-mandate-he-n1256805

Covid Vaccine Distribution – WI continues to implement its COVID vaccine plan. WI has greatly improved its efforts with Phase 1A, which includes nursing home residents, 65 and older residents, emergency personnel and other front-line health care workers.

Phase 1B is scheduled to begin on March 1. That phase includes education and childcare, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline essential health care personnel and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm

Spring Primary Election on Tuesday; DPI Superintendent on the Ballot

There is a crowded field for the open seat to become DPI Superintendent.  DPI Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed by Governor Evers in January 2019 to fill out Evers’ third term,  is not running for election.

The primary election will be on Tues. Feb. 16, 2021 (narrowing the field to the top two), and the general election will be on April 6, 2021. This will be only state-wide race on the ballot this Spring.

Governor Evers, who served as DPI Superintendent from 2009-2017) has not endorsed anyone in the race. The new DPI Superintendent will begin on July 1, 2021.

To read more about the DPI Superintendent race, please click on the link below:

https://madison.com/ct/news/local/education/local_schools/a-voters-guide-to-the-seven-person-race-for-wisconsin-state-superintendent/article_96198a95-eb54-5d9d-bfdb-13d422da75be.html

List of Candidates for DPI Superintendent
– Jill Underly, Pecatonica Area School District superintendent. See more: https://underlyforwi.com/#:~:text=About%20Jill%20Underly%20for%20Wisconsin,public%20schools%20system%20since%201999 

– Sheila Briggs, assistant state superintendent at the Department of Public Instruction. See more: https://www.briggsforkids.com/ 

– Troy Gunderson, adjunct professor of school finance at Viterbo University in La Crosse. See more: https://www.troyforstatesup.com/content/about-troy 

– Deborah Kerr, an executive committee member for the American Association of School Administrators. See more: https://kerr4kids.com/ 

– Joe Fenrick, a Fond du Lac High School science teacher. See more: https://fenrickforeducation.com/ 

– Steve Krull, principal to Milwaukee’s Garland Elementary School. See more: https://www.krullforschools.com/ 

– Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams, former DPI director of the Teacher Education, Professional Development and Licensing team and former Milwaukee office director for Gov. Tony Evers. See more: https://www.drhendricksforeducation.com/ 

Committee Hearings Next Week

Mon Feb 15Senate – Committee on Natural Resources and EnergyExecutive Session
2:00 PM
411 South
Items: EA-ALLMAN; EA-CURREN; EA-MAXWELL; EA-VANAMANHOEL; EA-VANDEHEY; EA-WEST; EA-CUPP; EA-ENKE; EA-FELDT; EA-QUACKENBUSH
Mon Feb 15Senate – Committee on Natural Resources and EnergyPublic Hearing
2:01 PM
411 South
Items: EA-MAROTTA; EA-VETTE; SB46
Tue Feb 16Assembly – Committee on JudiciaryREVISED: Public Hearing
9:00 AM
417 North (GAR Hall)
Items: AB33