Legislative Update – March 31

State Budget Update

JFC_Budget_Hearings

More on hidden budget gift for employers who break the law
Here is a powerful Op Ed piece that every Wisconsin educator should read. It highlights some more Draconian anti-worker elements of the governor’s budget bill. Read more about the proposal and take action.

Joint Finance Committee wraps up agency briefings, looks toward budget hearing
Joint Finance Committee’s agency briefings wrapped up on March 30, clearing the way for the start of the budget hearings that begin at 10 a.m. Monday in Platteville. Wednesday the JFC hearing will come to State Fair Park in West Allis, and Friday the JFC will be in Berlin. See the complete list and addresses.

DPI Agency Briefing
State Superintendent Tony Evers gave his briefing to the Joint Finance Committee, saying he’s pleased with Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal to add $649 million toward K-12, though he’d like some changes in the budget. Specifically, he questioned the governor’s proposal to move to lifetime licenses for teachers and administrators – a proposal developed with no educator input. Evers and education leaders, including WEAC President Ron Martin, are working to “streamline and strengthen licenses,” and Evers said he would return to JFC with proposed changes to the governor’s licensing plan.  Evers concerns include a proposal to require districts to prove they were following Act 10 in exchange for student funding. He also made a stand for equitable state funding geared toward helping students in poverty or with disabilities, instead of per-pupil payments that aren’t based on school districts’ wealth.

Transportation funding
After the governor warned he would veto any legislative move to increase taxes to pay for roads, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said his Senate GOP caucus doesn’t have the votes right now to pass a gas tax hike and downplayed the suggestion lawmakers could override a veto. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, however, said all options remain on the table for his caucus when it comes to transportation funding and that it’s “irresponsible” to rule out a veto override when the Legislature is a co-equal branch of government.

Concealed carry
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said he’s not sure where his caucus is on a proposal that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin without first obtaining a permit. Fitzgerald said there’s a different dynamic between lawmakers who were in the Capitol six years ago when concealed carry passed and was signed into law compared to more recent members. The existing concealed carry law played out like sponsors had hoped, Fitzgerald said. He also noted the package that passed the Legislature required training and a license.

Bills circulating would limit school referenda
As voters prepare to weigh in on 65 local school referendums across the state, lawmakers are circulating six bills for co-sponsorship that would limit school boards’ abilities to go to voters to support neighborhood public schools. Among the provisions of the proposed bills, school districts that pass operating referendums to exceed revenue limits would have equalized aid reduced by 20 percent of the referendum amount – and they’d have to list that as part of the referendum question on the ballot.

‘Act 10’ provision pushback
With legislators during agency briefings asking questions about an item in the governor’s budget proposal to require districts to prove they are “following Act 10 provisions” in order to receive funding for students, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards has requested the Joint Finance Committee remove that from the budget. In reality, most districts take a different approach to health insurance for their employees, including higher deductibles and co-pays that compound the massive decrease in household income for educators.

The Week in Review

March 29

  • Career and technical education incentive grants. AB 192 was introduced and sent to the Committee on Workforce Development.
  • Lead remediation in schools. A bill, SB 141, was introduced to allow a revenue limit adjustment for a school district for costs incurred to remediate lead contamination in drinking water and exceptions from local levy limits for lead pipe water service line replacement purposes.
  • Concealed carry legislation. Dave Craig and Rep. Mary Felzkowski began circulating a bill providing for constitutional carry in Wisconsin. The bill being circulated will eliminate the need for a concealed carry permit, in most cases. According to the co-sponsorship memo, “The bill allows for the concealed carry of a firearm without a license anywhere in the state by a person who is legally allowed to carry a firearm and simplifies state law while reducing the cost to citizens who choose to protect themselves and their families.” Read the Legislative Reference Bureau Memo

The Week Ahead & Beyond

April 3

April 4 (Election Day)

  • The Senate will be in session. Bills they are scheduled to take action on include:
    • Broadband Expansion, SB49. The information technology block grant program, the broadband expansion grant program, waiving certain fees and appraisals, and making appropriations.
    • School Board Salary Refusal, SB-062. Authorizes a school board member to refuse his or her salary.

April 5

April 6

  • The Assembly Education Committee will meet for Executive Session on:
    • Pupil Data Inventory (AB-071) An inventory of pupil data.
    • Pupil Data Security (AB-072) Responsibilities of state superintendent related to privacy and security of pupil data.
    • Alternative Education Grants (LRB 2204/1) If approved by a majority on the committee this LRB will be introduced as a “committee bill.”
    • Modifying rules related to various grant programs (LRB 2205/1) If approved by a majority on the committee this LRB will be introduced as a “committee bill.”

April 7

Don’t see something in the wrap-up? Looking for more information? Contact Christina Brey.