Gov. Tony Evers Talks Economic and Workforce Development in State of the State Address

Lat week Gov. Tony Evers delivered his 5th State of the State Address before a joint session of the Legislature. Evers used the opportunity to lay out his priorities for the current legislative session and was a prelude to his 2023-25 state budget proposal, which he will unveil in mid-February.

The governor’s speech (click here to read the entire address) touched on the importance of investing in economic and workforce development and included several proposals, including:

  • $100 million to continue the Workforce Innovation Grant Program.
  • $12 million for job training initiatives through the Worker Advancement Initiative.
  • $50 million to continue the Main Street Bounceback Grant Program to provide as many as 5,000 eligible businesses with grants up to $10,000.
  • $5 million in ARPA funds for technical assistance, mentorship, and educational training for Main Street Bounceback grant recipients.
  • $10 million for an initiative led by WEDC to collaborate with industries in every sector of our state’s economy to develop and implement initiatives to retain and attract talented workers.

While Republicans were quick to criticize the governor’s proposed $1.3 billion in new spending, Evers was equally critical of the Republicans’ efforts to cut taxes, specifically calling Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu’s flat tax plan “reckless”.

Click here to watch a replay of the speech.

State Budget Surplus Grows to $7.1 Billion

The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has released new figures that find the state’s projected budget surplus has grown to $7.1 billion – up $524 million from just two months ago. The increase was due to 3 key factors: 1.) A lapse to the general fund from the Medicaid program, which has a surplus due to an influx of federal funding ($269 million); 2.) A lapse to the general fund due to the failure to eliminate the personal property tax last session after funding was set aside for that purpose ($202 million); and 3.) A $60 increase in tax revenue.  In a joint statement, the co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee suggest a cautious approach moving forward, in part because “the surplus is significantly impacted by the one-time money that has been pumped into our state by the federal government.”

State Supreme Court Race Heats Up

With the State Supreme Court primary election just three weeks away, the race is starting to heat up. Four candidates will face off on February 21st, with the top two “vote getters” advancing to the Spring General Election in April.  While the Supreme Court is nonpartisan, its members do loosely line up along ideological lines, with conservatives currently holding a 4-3 advantage.  A win by either Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dorow or former Supreme Court Justice Dan Kelly would maintain the conservative advantage, while a win by either Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz or Dane County Circuit Court Judge Everett Mitchell would flip the court.