In This Edition…

  • Gov. Tony Evers Vetoes GOP’s Middle-Class Tax Cut Bill 
  • WEDA Bill Tracker: Follow the Latest Proposals from the State Capitol
  • Gov. Evers Appoints New WEDC Board Members

Gov. Tony Evers Vetoes GOP’s Middle-Class Tax Cut Bill  

Last week, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a Republican-backed middle-class tax cut bill, citing concerns about the lack of bipartisan support and calling the proposal fiscally irresponsible. The legislation would have used the state revenue surplus to fund the tax cut, which was aimed at individuals making up to $100,000 and families earning up to $150,000 annually.

Evers does support a middle-class tax cut, which he campaigned on last fall, but his version would pay for a portion of it by scaling back the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit (MAC). Evers said he will include his middle-class tax cut plan as part of the two-year state budget proposal that he will unveil on Thursday.

The MAC tax credit, which is available to both individuals and businesses for income derived from manufacturing (or agricultural property), essentially eliminates the income tax for manufacturers operating in Wisconsin.

WEDA is opposed to reducing or eliminating the MAC tax credit, as it has proven to be a valuable business attraction and retention tool. Without the MAC – or a with paired down version of it – Wisconsin will become a less favorable investment option for businesses looking to relocate or expand.

Legislative leaders in the GOP-controlled Legislature have said they are not interested in modifying the MAC tax credit, as they don’t support raising taxes on job creators in Wisconisn.

The WEDA Government Affairs Team will continue to closely monitor the middle-class tax cut debate, and how it could impact the MAC tax credit, throughout the state budget process.

WEDA Bill Tracker: Follow the Latest Proposals from the State Capitol

Nearly two months into the 2019-20 legislative session, the stream of newly introduced legislative proposals has been relatively slow. However, activity in the halls of the State Capitol has increased over the past few weeks and will certainly pick-up steam once Gov. Evers introduces his two-year state budget bill on Thursday.

Every legislative session WEDA monitors and lobbies on numerous bills that could impact economic development across Wisconsin. To date, WEDA has taken a position on the following legislative proposals during the current legislative session:

  • Bill Number: Assembly Bill 4 / Senate Bill 18
    • Bill Description: Expands the sliding scale standard deduction to reduce state income taxes for middle-class taxpayers. Individuals making up to $100,000 and families earing up to $150,000 would be eligible for the tax cut. The bill’s proposed tax reduction is paid for using the state’s current revenue surplus, and not by reducing or eliminating the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit.
    • Bill Status: Assembly Bill 4 passed both the Assembly the Senate. Gov. Evers vetoed the legislation.
    • WEDA Position: SUPPORT
  • Bill Number: Assembly Bill 23 / Senate Bill 16
    • Bill Description: Increases funding for the Career and Technical Education Incentive Grant program by $3.5 million per year over the 2019-21 biennium. The bill essentially doubles funding for the program over the next two years. The CTE grant program provides financial support to school districts that provide educational opportunities for student to earn industry recognized certifications in high-demand professions.
    • Bill Status: AB 23 was introduced and referred to the Assembly Workforce Development Committee. SB 16 was introduced and referred to the Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Trade Committee.
    • WEDA Position: SUPPORT
  • Bill Number: Assembly Bill 38
    • Bill Description: Eliminates current law barriers the UW System faces when entrepreneurs and faculty attempt to create businesses with patents and spin-off opportunities produced by the university’s research. The bill modifies the UW System’s conflict of interest regulation, putting the System on an even playing field with other universities across the country.
    • Bill Status: Introduced and referred to the Assembly Constitution and Ethics Committee
    • WEDA Position: SUPPORT

In addition to the above-reference bills, the WEDA Legislative Committee will soon be reviewing the following new proposals for a recommend position:

  • Apprenticeship Tuition Tax Deduction (LRB-1159) – Creates an income tax deduction for tuition expenses paid – by an individual or corporation – for an individual to participate in an apprenticeship program approved by the Department of Workforce Development.
  • Comprehensive Youth Apprenticeship Opportunities Act (LRB-1584) – Under current law, DWD must approve a list of occupational areas related to youth apprenticeships, but the Department is not required to provide youth apprenticeship programming in each area. DWD currently sanctions 11 of 16 occupational areas for youth apprenticeship programs. This bill will require DWD to approve and maintain youth apprenticeship programs in all 16 specific occupational areas.
  • Expungement Reform: Pathways to Employment (LRB-1689) – Provides comprehensive expungement reform in an effort to strengthen Wisconsin’s workforce. The bill proposal would:
    • Eliminate the state mandate on judges to grant/deny expungement at the time of sentencing.
    • Eliminate the current requirement that expungement can only be granted for crimes committed before the age of 25.
    • Specify that an expunged crime cannot be considered a conviction for employment purposes.
    • Clarifies that only low-level offenders are eligible for expungement.
  • Youth Apprenticeship Enhancement Act (LRB-1990) – Would make numerous changes to the Youth Apprenticeship program to increase its reach and impact, including:
    • Increases funding for the YA program by roughly $2.7 million for Fiscal Year 19.
    • Increases the amount of the individual grants under the YA program from $900 to $1,000 per student.
    • Provides new funding for YA program curriculum updates.
    • Creates standards for more routine transfer of YA program credits to the adult apprenticeship program.

To follow WEDA’s legislative activity during the 2019-20 legislative session, remember to regularly visit the WEDA Bill Tracker tool.

Gov. Evers Appoints New WEDC Board Members lock

Last week, Gov. Tony Evers made numerous gubernatorial appointments, including the following five individuals to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Board:

  • John Brogan – Bank of Kaukauna CEO
  • Becca Cooke – Owner of Red’s Mercantile, an Eau Clare-based home goods and accessories store
  • Joe Kirgues – Co-founder of startup accelerator gener8tor
  • Hank Newell – Former CEO of Wausau Paper
  • Thelma Sias – Retired WEC Energy Group executive

The Evers’ appointees must be confirmed by the Wisconsin Senate.