Author: Andrew Engel – WISCA Lobbyist (Hamilton Consulting)
Following what was effectively a summer break for many legislators, the Assembly and Senate held their first days of votes in the fall floor period that started in September, and regular committee hearings have resumed. Here are a few key highlights:
- Gov. Evers called a special session of the Legislature on September 20 “to complete their work on the 2023-25 biennial budget and pass a meaningful, comprehensive plan to address the state’s longstanding, generational workforce challenges.” The governor’s press release lists $1 billion in proposals. Republicans gaveled in and out of the special session without taking any action.
- Speaker Vos and Majority Leader LeMahieu indicated that they are more interested in reducing income taxes to attract and retain employees and employers, with Speaker Vos saying that Republicans’ first priority in September “will be to give Gov. Evers another chance to fix his mistake by signing a middle-class tax cut.” To that end, Assembly Republicans have introduced and passed legislation to enact an income tax cut for Wisconsin’s largest tax bracket, including married joint filers earning between $36,840 and $405,000. The Senate has yet to act on the bill.
- Republican legislators have also introduced and passed a package of childcare-related bills to increase the current child to teacher ratios in group settings; decrease age limits for child care teachers; create a new category of large family-based day care providers; allow parents and guardians who do not have an employer-sponsored flexible spending account to open state-issued child care savings accounts; and create a new renovation loan program administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. These bills passed the Assembly on a party line vote and if they pass the Senate are expected to be met with vetoes from the Governor as he is more focused on his proposal that would provide direct funding to childcare providers.
While there is hope that the Governor and legislature will find common ground on the two issues resulting in a compromise providing a tax cut and money for childcare, the discussions at this point and time do not appear promising.