WEDA Legislative Update
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee began work reshaping Gov. Tony
Evers’ 2019-21 state budget bill earlier this month and over the past three weeks have made significant changes to the two-year, $84 billion spending bill. As was reported by WEDA several weeks ago, the first budget motion debated and voted on by the committee removed roughly 130 items from the Governor’s budget, including the provision to limit TIF developer grants to 20 percent of a district’s total projects costs and the proposal to significantly reduce the manufacturing portion of the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit. WEDA opposed both provisions – as they would have severely weaken two key economic development tools – and actively lobbied for their removal from the bill. \lsd
In addition to what was taken out of the bill, WEDA was pleased with recent action by the Finance Committee to increase funding for critical workforce training programs by $12.5 million over the biennium, including:
- Career and Technical Education Incentive Grants – Provided an additional $3 million in each year of the biennium, for a total of $6 million for Career and Technical Education grants.
- Youth Apprenticeship Grants – Provided an additional $2.76 million in each year of the biennium, for a total of $5.5 million for grants to local youth apprenticeship consortia.
- Technical Education Equipment Grants – Provided an additional $500,000 in each year of the biennium, for a total of $1 million for the Technical Education Equipment Grant program.
The Committee also allocated funding from the Fast Forward program for grants to shipbuilders to train employees and to the Department of Corrections for mobile classrooms and job centers in minimum and medium security correctional institutions. In addition, they voted to increase funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System by $25 million over the biennium.
WEDA will continue to monitor the progress of the budget and engage in the process to ensure economic development is well represented as the bill continues to be debated by lawmakers, who by statue have until the end of June to send the budget to Gov. Evers.
On a non-budget related legislative item, the WEDA Government Affairs Team would like to thank WEDA members Dave Armstrong (Barron County Economic Development Corporation), Steve Peterson (Monroe County Economic Development) and Ed White (Sauk County Development Corporation) for testifying this week before the Assembly Rural Development Committee on the issue of workforce housing in Wisconsin. They did a fantastic job representing WEDA and providing their knowledge on workforce housing and how the Legislature can help communities encourage more housing development.