State Tax Collections Running Ahead of Projections

By John Forester | June 28, 2022

From WisPolitics.com …Tax collections for the fiscal year that ends this month are running ahead of projections, putting the state in line for another boost to the general fund.The Department of Revenue last week reported general fund tax collections through the end of May were up 5.2 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau had projected general fund tax collections would drop by 3.2 percent for the fiscal year that ends June 30.LFB Director Bob Lang today noted corporations make their estimated tax payments largely in four months, including June. Through the end of May, the state had collected $2.4 billion in corporate taxes. That matches what LFB projected in January the state would take in for the full 12-month period.“I think we’ve got a lot of strength (in collections), in corporate in particular,” Lang said.The state’s largest three general fund taxes are individual income, sales and corporate. Lang said income and sales also look strong.In January, the LFB upped its projected surplus for the 2021-23 budget to $3.8 billion, nearly $2.9 billion more than what it had expected when the budget was signed last summer.The Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee urged a cautious approach if collections come in above projections.Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said taxes on businesses and consumers are higher due to inflation. Meanwhile, Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, also stressed that sales tax collections are strong, in part, because prices are higher due to inflation.He warned there are “lots of clouds on the horizon” with the possibility of an economic slowdown.“I think we need to be cautious about spending it,” Marklein said. “I think a year from now when we’re wrapping up our budget, I think we’re going to be glad that we’ve got the resources.”The LFB will issue a summary later this summer on preliminary tax collections for the full fiscal year, which ends June 30. The Evers administration will then do a look at tax collections in November, when it releases a preliminary projection for the 2023-25 biennium. The LFB will do its next look at revenues two months later in January.Lang noted there’s some uncertainty over the second year of the 2021-23 biennium between inflation, rising interest rates and the possibility of a recession.See last week’s DOR report here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Evers Warns Agencies to Avoid Additional Spending in 2023-25 Budget Requests

By John Forester | June 15, 2022

From WisPolitics.com …

Gov. Tony Evers is warning state agencies his directives will require most of them to avoid additional general purpose revenue spending in the 2023-25 state budget even with a record projected surplus.In a letter last week, Evers wrote the restriction also will extend to SEG-funded operations for the departments of Natural Resources and Transportation as well as the Wisconsin Lottery.Evers spent much of the letter touting the strength of the state budget, which is projected to have a $3.8 billion surplus at the end of the 2021-23 biennium.Evers noted “some economic uncertainty now amidst an ever-changing and unrelentingpandemic, an international crisis, and ongoing economic challenges around the globe.”“While I am optimistic our global and national economy will steady itself, it is appropriate that we exercise caution going forward in our current economic environment right now,” Evers wrote.Guvs issue the letters every two years to begin setting benchmarks for the budget process, which includes state agencies turning in their requests by Sept. 15. Evers had a similar directive in 2020 to begin the budget process. With the state then in the early stages of the pandemic, he told agencies to avoid asking for any new positions in addition to holding spending flat.Eight months later, he proposed a $3.2 billion increase in GPR spending with half of that proposed for K-12 education.In last week’s letter, Evers wrote he plans to “redouble our efforts to address issues that we hear about every day from our fellow citizens.” That includes providing a quality education, expanding Medicaid, reducing the cost of prescription drugs and ending the freeze on shared revenues by “providing our local governments with the necessary fiscal resources to keep their communities safe.” Evers also wrote tax credits and road funding will also be priorities.Read the letter here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

WASB Won’t Renew Membership in NSBA

By John Forester | June 15, 2022

From WisPolitics.com …The Wisconsin Association of School Boards has voted not to renew membership in the national organization over concerns about its governance structure, fiscal management, and “failure to prioritize and serve state school board associations.”In a message to lawmakers late Monday, the WASB wrote many of its concerns “pre-date last fall’s events,” when the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden seeking help from the federal government in response to threats of violence and intimidation aimed at school board members. The letter added some of the actions could be classified as “domestic terrorism” or hate crimes.The group later apologized to members, but the WASB in November withdrew from participation in the national organization’s programs, activities and lobbying efforts. The WASB couldn’t terminate its membership at the time because it had already paid dues and there was no mechanism for a refund, the state organization said at the time.In Monday’s message, the WASB wrote those actions “needlessly harmed school board relationships and inflamed partisan tensions.”The WASB Board of Directors voted on Friday not to renew its membership for the 2022-23 school year, and more than half of the nation’s state school board organizations have distanced themselves from the NSBA or dropped their membership.The WASB is looking for an alternative national association, though it wrote in the message it wasn’t precluding NSBA membership in the future.“Our support for parent and community input is unwavering,” the message read. “We realize that we are partners with our parents and community members and that the great majority of the interactions with our constituents are cordial, collaborative and thoughtful. We understand that important policy decisions can be passionately discussed, but in a manner that reinforces the basic tenet of public schools — local control of students’ education.”

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

DOR: Wisconsin Personal Income Growth Will Lag the Nation

By John Forester | June 14, 2022

From WisPolitics.com …

The state Department of Revenue predicts personal income growth in Wisconsin will lag the national rate this year and the next.That’s according to the latest economic forecast report from DOR, which shows personal income in Wisconsin is expected to rise 2.3 percent this year and 4.8 percent in 2023. That’s compared to 2.7 percent this year and 5 percent next year at the national level.But when adjusted for rising prices, real personal income in Wisconsin is forecasted to fall 3.3 percent this year before rising 2.2 percent in 2023, the report shows.Meanwhile, the agency says the tight labor market and inflation will “keep wage growth strong” this year. Wage and salary income this year is expected to see growth of 8.2 percent in the state and 9.4 percent nationwide.“However, inflation is biting into those wage gains, leaving workers with real wage income growth in the range of 2% to 3%,” report authors wrote.Drawing on federal data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the report shows total employment grew 2.1 percent in Wisconsin and 2.8 percent nationwide during 2021. And over the first four months of this year, employment in the state increased 2 percent year-over-year, falling behind the national rate of 4.6 percent.State employment is projected to increase 2.3 percent this year and 1.1 percent next year, “reaching its pre-pandemic levels of employment by the third quarter of 2023.”DOR’s report shows Wisconsin’s service sector “continues its strong recovery” after employment in leisure and hospitality fell 20.8 percent in 2020. It then rose 10.2 percent last year, and is expected to increase another 11.3 percent this year, per the report.And while employment in the trade, transportation and utility sector has “recovered its pre-recession employment level” in the third quarter of 2021 both in Wisconsin and nationally, the education and health services sector has yet to do so.By comparison, manufacturing and construction in the state has “fared better during the decline and the recovery,” report authors note, with continued growth projected for this year.See the report here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

SAA Names Dee Pettack Next Executive Director

By John Forester | June 6, 2022

The SAA has named Dee Pettack as its next executive director, replacing current SAA Executive Director John Forester, who is retiring after more than 20 years of leading the SAA.  Pettack currently serves as senior policy initiatives advisor for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

See the SAA news release here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

School Officials’ Role in Parental Disputes

By John Forester | June 6, 2022

From the Legal Side…

In its most recent Legal Update, the Renning, Lewis & Lacy Law Firm discusses a few of the common circumstances in which school staff are forced to encounter child custody and related matters, often as part of ongoing parental disputes.

The SAA regularly receives these legal updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Renning, Lewis & Lacy.  The information in this update is no substitute for consulting with your district legal counsel, and we encourage you to do so.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update, SAA Legal Side | No Comments »

Knudson Announces Resignation from Elections Commission

By John Forester | May 26, 2022

In my estimation, this entire episode (see the news story below) surrounding Dean Knudson’s resignation from the Elections Commission is yet another sad illustration of the dysfunction in Madison.  When he was in the Legislature and a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, we often disagreed on education policy issues.  However, I always believed that we could have a thoughtful conversation about those issues.  I greatly appreciate Dean Knudson’s service to the citizens of Wisconsin.  We need many more public servants like him in Madison.

From WisPolitics.com …

Former GOP state Rep. Dean Knudson defended his conservative record as he announced his resignation from the Elections Commission because he no longer believes he can be effective as a Republican member of the body.Knudson has repeatedly said there wasn’t widespread fraud in Wisconsin’s 2020 election and defended how the Elections Commission administered the race.He said that’s led to charges he’s a RINO — Republican In Name Only — for his willingness to tell the truth about Donald Trump’s loss.Knudson’s departure once a replacement is in place upended the process to pick a new chair of the body, pushing off a decision until next month.Fellow Republican appointee Bob Spindell, who has been openly campaigning to become chair, pushed the commission yesterday to move ahead with a vote. But the commission voted 5-1 to put off a vote until its June 10 hearing.“It really comes because my two core values are to practice service above self and to display personal integrity,” Knudson said. “To me, that integrity means telling the truth even when that truth is painful.”Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who appointed Knudson and will pick his replacement, didn’t immediately return a call after yesterday’s late afternoon meeting seeking comment.Under commission rules, the next chair must be a Republican after Dem Ann Jacobs served in the role for the past two years. The clerks who serve on the six-member commission aren’t eligible. That leaves Spindell or Knudson’s replacement as the only two who could serve in the role.Spindell again said yesterday he wants the job. After Knudson announced his resignation, Spindell read a statement laying out his case for why he believes he should be the next chair, including his contention that his leadership would restore confidence in the commission and clear up doubts about its work.Appointing a new chair requires four votes from the commission, which is split evenly between Dem and GOP appointees. Spindell has often clashed with Dem appointees. He also was one of 10 electors who signed papers falsely claiming Trump won Wisconsin instead of Joe Biden. Spindell has defended the move as part of a legal strategy to keep Trump’s options open as he sought unsuccessfully to overturn the election results.That could make it difficult for Spindell to win the support of one of the commission’s Dems. That would leave Vos’ new appointee as the only other option. State law is silent on what would happen if the commission deadlocked on a new chair.Spindell noted last night on Twitter that Knudson sided with Dems in pushing back the chair election.“But Repub of WI not going to stand for any Fake Repub Chair selected by Dems. Still running for Chair of Elec Comm! #BobSled,” Spindell tweeted.Knudson helped author the law abolishing the Government Accountability Board and creating the Elections and Ethics commissions. He’s also become the focus of ire for some Republicans over his vocal defense of the commission and administration of the 2020 election. That includes his various statements refuting the false claims by Trump of widespread fraud in Wisconsin.He also is one of five commissioners that the Racine County sheriff recommended face felony charges after the body voted to suspend a requirement that local clerks send special voting deputies to nursing homes before sending absentee ballots to residents who request them. The move was taken during the COVID-19 pandemic as various nursing homes declined to allow various people inside the facilities for fear of spreading the virus among their elderly populations.Knudson said he wasn’t interested in becoming chair after serving in the role previously. He also suggested Republicans had made clear they didn’t want him to serve in the role.“It’s been made clear to me from the highest level of the Republican Party of Wisconsin that there’s a deep desire that I not be the chair. That’s fine,” Knudson said without offering specifics.See Spindell’s tweet here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Wisconsin Falls Further Below National Average on Per-Pupil Spending

By John Forester | May 25, 2022

In September 2020, you might recall that the Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) released a report in which it used 2018 U.S. Census Bureau data (the most recent available at the time) to conclude the following regarding Wisconsin’s K-12 spending trends in comparison to the rest of the nation: 

Subsequently, the SAA reviewed 2019 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found (with WPF staff corroborating the accuracy):

This week, the SAA reviewed the just-released 2020 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and found (again with WPF staff verifying the accuracy):

In our estimation, Wisconsin’s continued decline below the national average is significant.  More to come.

2020 Public Elementary-Secondary Education Finance Data (census.gov)

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

Wisconsin’s Code of Ethics for Local Public Officials

By John Forester | May 19, 2022

From the Legal Side…

In its most recent Legal Update, the Renning, Lewis & Lacy Law Firm reviews the legal obligations found in Wisconsin’s Code of Ethics for Local Public Officials.

The SAA regularly receives these legal updates and we believe this is valuable information for SAA members.  We are distributing this update to SAA members with the permission of Renning, Lewis & Lacy.  The information in this update is no substitute for consulting with your district legal counsel, and we encourage you to do so.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

WPF Releases Report on School ESSER Spending

By John Forester | May 19, 2022

The Wisconsin Policy Forum (WPF) released a new report yesterday entitled, “How Are School Districts Spending Their Federal Relief Funds?”  Check it out here.

Topics: SAA Capitol Reports, SAA Capitol Reports with Email Notifications, SAA Latest Update | No Comments »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »