Friday, October 12, 2018

BCPL, CSF Study Committee Gets Closer to Making Recommendations

The Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds met on October 11 to discuss possible recommendations for legislation. 

Committee Chair Representative Katsma told the Committee that his goal is to figure out what tools they can give to BCPL to increase the return for school libraries. Many of the Committee members agreed with Representative Katsma's statement about maximizing returns for the Common School Fund and school libraries. Senator Taylor said she would like to get more money to schools libraries but doesn't want to effect the stability of the Common School Fund. She also said she wants to see time-frames and reporting requirements to ensure that all required deposits of fines and forfeitures are making it into the Common School Fund. Senator Stroebel said he is interested in moving the Common School Fund to the Endowment Model (note: this would require changing the state constitution).

Legislative Council staff told the Committee they have several options to change the investment strategy of the Common School Fund. They could introduce legislation to:

1.Codify some of things that BCPL is already doing in state statute. For example, BCPL crated a smoothing fund for the Common School Fund but that is not currently authorized in state statutes. 

2.Change the State Constitution to modify investment strategy of the Common School Fund.

3. Find a middle ground to make changes to the investment strategy without changing the Constitution. 

The Committee asked for BCPL to make a presentation at their next meeting on November 14 to answer some of their questions about their investment strategy and get their reaction to these options. 

The Committee reached consensus to draft legislation to allow banks to make loans to municipalities for longer than 10 year terms. 

The Committee discussed possibly capping the amount or size of Trust Fund Loans BCPL can make, indexing their interest rates and requiring a pre-payment penalty on the loans. Senator Stroebel raised concerns about BCPL making pass-through loans. He said that BCPL can’t lend to an individual but that municipalities are getting loans and then using them to benefit a specific company or private developers.  The Committee did not reach consensus on these items yet. 

The Committee also heard from several presenters.

Chris Anton, Manager of Investments, Idaho Endowment Fund Investment Board, talked about Idaho's decision to amend their constitutions to facilitate investment of their trust funds. Anton said that prior to undertaking endowment reform, their trust funds were invested entirely in fixed income. As a result of their reforms, Idaho created both a land board and an investment board to help manage their trust funds. They adopted investment principles and goals and then amended their constitution. One of their goals is to provide consistent and sustainable distribution to beneficiaries. Unlike Wisconsin, Idaho have eight beneficiaries: public schools, several universities, two hospitals, a penitentiary fund, the school for the deaf and blind and a capital building fund.   Today their fund is invested in 66% equity, 26% fixed income and 8% real estate. Anton acknowledged that in years when the market is flat, they don't have much earnings but they do have a reserve fund. Idaho does not make loans to local governments but they do have a credit enhancement program for school districts who take out loans. 


Michael Wagner, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Department of Revenue (DOR) talked about DOR's role in administering the unclaimed property fund, which provides revenue to the Common School Fund. The unclaimed property program was transferred from the State Treasurer's Office to DOR in 2013. Wagner said DOR's annual projected payment to the CSF is between $26 million-$30 million over the next few years. DOR said that in recent years, the vast majority of matches for unclaimed property have been the result of incoming new unclaimed property. Senator Stroebel asked Wagner if other states have limitations on how long they can hold on to unclaimed property. DOR said that some states do have a statute of limitations on unclaimed property, so after 10-20 years if no one claims it it goes to their version of BCPL. 

Susan Gary, Orlando J. and Marian H. Hollis Professor of Law, University of Oregon walked the Committee through changes to investment strategies for trust funds and the prudent investor standard. Gary said the concept of the prudent investor has evolved over time. She said that early on, it was very focused on conservative investments. Fiduciary investors started to feel constrained by this standard, so they adopted the Uniform Prudent Investor Act, which allowed fiduciaries to consider factors carefully and make the best decision for a particular fund. Later on, the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) was adopted to allow for total return investing. UPMIFA directs the charity to spend from an endowment fund the amount determined to be “prudent for the uses, benefits, purposes, and duration for which the endowment fund is established.” Gary told the Committee that while these rules help set fiduciary standards, any type of state law or guidance document would trump them. She said that in Wisconsin our rules are in the constitution so that supersedes the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Senator Taylor asked Gary if she thinks it's acceptable for a fund to use a more conservative approach to make sure it is able to deliver proceeds to its beneficiaries. Gary said that she thinks it’s reasonable to make a determination based on risk and how conservative that should be on one side or the other. She said that the important thing is to look at the fundamental purposes of the fund, and the policy needs to be good for the people who depend on the distributions.

Mark Ready, Professor and Chair, Department of Finance, Investments, and Banking, University of Wisconsin-Madison told the Committee about his role in consulting with BCPL on their investment policy. Ready said that when you set an investment policy, you think about the risk tolerance of the beneficiary. He said in Wisconsin, Libraries have a high dependence on this source of funding. A cut in this source of funding would be painful, so that is why it’s conservative strategy. Ready said that the perspective is that if it is difficult and painful for the beneficiary of the fund to take a big hit, the allocation should go much more heavily toward fixed income investments. He told the Committee if they want to move toward a more risky investment strategy, the beneficiaries better be able to handle a 12% drop in the portfolio. 

The Committee will meet again on November 14.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Study Committee on BCPL, CSF Meeting Today at 10!

The Legislative Council Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds is meeting today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They will be discussing possible legislative options, which are outlined in this memo: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/misc/lc/study/2018/1788/030_october_11_2018_meeting_10_00_a_m_room_411_south_state_capitol/001_oct4memo_trust

You can watch it live on Wisconsin Eye: http://www.wiseye.org/Live 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

State Agencies Release Budget Requests


State agencies released their 2019-21 budget requests on Monday. These requests help inform the Governor’s development of their budget bill, which will be introduced in January or February of 2019.

Educational Communications Board (ECB)


Media Lab: Most notably, they are requesting  $500,000 of state GPR funding in Fiscal Year 2020 and 2021 to reinstate funding for  Wisconsin-based K-12 educational media production. State funding was eliminated for this programming in the 2015-17 state budget.

“Wisconsin’s students need and deserve equitable access to effective and engaging educational media, particularly in curriculum areas specific to Wisconsin,” writes ECB in their request.

Public Instruction (DPI)


As you have likely read, DPI is requesting a $1.4 billion increase for schools.

State Superintendent Tony Evers writes in a cover letter that DPI’s budget request responds to challenges raised by citizens and school throughout the state by:  “ending the decade-long freeze on special education funding; prioritizing student mental health; restoring and expanding crucial student supports; and reforming our broken school finance system.”

Specifically, DPI proposes:

  • A $600 million investment in special education, increasing the reimbursement rate from 25% to 60%, while expanding funding for English learners and rural schools;
  • Nearly $64 million more for student mental health funding;
  • Funding for full-day 4K, funding for afterschool programs, and initiatives targeted to Wisconsin’s largest urban school districts;
  • Reforming the school finance system. DPI says this will guarantee a minimum amount of state general education aid for each student of $3,000.  The plan also includes indexing the revenue limit adjustment to inflation and eliminates the School Level Tax Credit and First Dollar Credit and folds them into the state general equalization aid formula (a full description of the plan can be found on page 13 of the budget request)
  • Two-thirds state funding for schools.

Library and educational technology items include:

Personal Electronic Computing Device Grants: DPI continues funding of the one-to-one device program created by the last state budget. Their request provides $9.1 million in each year of the biennium.

School Library Aids (estimate): DPI estimates that school libraries will receive $37 million in aid each year. This is an estimate of the Common School Fund distributions.

Public Library System Aid: DPI requests an additional $2.5 million in funding for public libraries in the first year of the biennium and an additional $4 million in the second year of the biennium. According to DPI, this is being done in part to maintain a one-time funding increase of $1.5 million received by public libraries in the last state budget biennium that is set to expire. DPI writes in its budget request that: “The present level of funding jeopardizes the current status of full participation by all libraries in the state. If public libraries do not participate, access to public library service by non-residents is reduced or eliminated.” The Wisconsin Library Association has said that they would use the additional funds “to address workforce development, technology infrastructure, and promotion of lifelong learning.”

Library Service Contracts: DPI requests increased funding of $133,200 in the first year of the biennium and $168,100 in the second year of the biennium to fully fund the library service contracts. The contracts are currently held by:  the Milwaukee Public Library (MPL), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison), the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL), and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC).

BadgerLink and Newsline for the Blind: DPI requests an increase of $345,800 in the second year of the biennium to fund BadgerLink contracts and Newsline for the Blind.

Wisconsin Reading Corps: DPI requests an increase of $700,000 in each year of the biennium for the Wisconsin Reading Corps. The program provides one-on-one literacy tutoring for students. Funding for the program is currently set to expire on June 20,2019. DPI is requesting that the program continue.

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL)


BCPL submitted a cost-to-continue budget to fund current agency operations. They say that the BCPL is  currently “managing more trust assets than at any time in agency history.” This includes the Common School Fund.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

CSF, BCPL Study Committee Discusses Possible Recommendations

The Legislative Council Study Committee on Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds met again on September 5. You can watch the video of the meeting here

They heard from an investment expert from the CommonFund Institute, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, the Wisconsin Bankers Association, a local government economic development panel, a municipal advisor from Ehlers, Inc. and the University of Wisconsin System. A summary of their testimony can be found below. 


At the end of the meeting, the Committee spent time talking about what types of recommendations they would like to make for legislation. Most Committee members seemed interested in looking at ways to increase the earnings of the Common School Fund. Senator Stroebel (R-Saukville) expressed interest in aligning the Common School Fund with the endowment model and transferring it to SWIB. In terms of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program, members expressed interest in adding a requirement to the BCPL Loan Application that municipalities need to talk to the private sector before getting a loan from BCPL. Kim Bannigan, who is a public member on the Committee, raised concerns that the BCPL has been receiving fewer deposits from fines and forfeitures in recent years and asked if there was a way to strengthen reporting around that process.

At the end of the September 5 meeting, the Committee decided they wanted to have a memo prepared by the Legislative Council attorneys outlining their options related to:

  •   Fines and forfeitures revenue going into the Common School Fund and what could be done to ensure that BCPL is receiving all the deposits it’s supposed to receive.
    ·        Changes to the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program.
    ·        Options for facilitating the transfer/investment delegation of funds to SWIB from BCPL (changing state statute to expand SWIB’s investment authority for investing the Common School Fund)
    ·         Changes related to Common School Fund investment strategy.
    ·         Facilitating lending to municipalities by community banks (possibly examining, simplifying state regulations). 


    The Committee’s next scheduled meeting is on October 11 in the State Capitol.



  • CommonFund Institute Executive Director Cathleen Rittereiser discussed best practices of endowment investing and the concept of intergenerational equity. The CommonFund Institute primarily serves non-profits. She explained the “endowment model” to the Committee, which she said consists of equity bias (stocks, ownership of assets), liquidity premium (the extra return that an investor receives for providing capital to the market) and diversification (the idea of designing a portfolio with a mix of asset classes). She told the Committee the goal is to earn Alpha, which is defined as the return you earn over market returns. She said you need to promote Alpha because you need to preserve capital and grow it over time, so that you have even more to distribute to your beneficiaries. When Representative Katsma (R-Oostburg) asked her about the Common School Fund’s spend rate, she said it was low compared to colleges and non-profits but that it didn’t mean it wasn’t meeting its needs. Senator Stroebel (R-Saukville) asked her if she felt SWIB and BCPL were following the endowment model of investing, and she said she did not feel like BCPL was following the endowment model and that she would recommend they remove the constraint on fixed income. Legislative Council Attorney Zach Ramirez reminded the Committee after this line of questioning that there are constitutional restraints on how the Common School Fund can be invested. He said that in the endowment model, the trustees can spend from their principal but that the Common School Fund is prohibited from spending from its principal. 


  • The State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) Interim Director Rochelle Klaskin gave the Committee an overview about SWIB’s investments. Representative Vruwink (D-Milton) asked her if SWIB could manage the Common School Fund better than BCPL. She told him that every fund is different and that when SWIB starts investing for a fund, they look at its constraints and goals and then set an investment strategy. She cautioned against comparing SWIB’s Core Fund returns to BCPL’s returns because it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. She also told Representative Vruwink, that SWIB can’t guarantee any return because they “live and die” by the market cycle. When asked if SWIB would be interested in taking over the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program if they were given the authority to invest the BCPL’s fund, she said that they don’t have the infrastructure to administer the loan program. When asked if SWIB would internally or externally manage BCPL’s funds if they were transferred to them, she said they would likely have them be managed externally.


  •   Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) lobbyist John Turke testified with one of his members, Jeff Gruetzmacher. Turke said that WBA was one of the groups that requested the study committee. He told the Committee that banks want to make the loans BCPL is making now and that his Association believes that the state should be a “lender of last resort.” He told the Committee that people seeking loans from the state should have to “seek a solution from the private sector first.” He said that many times, the private sector is not even consulted for bids on public projects because people are going straight to BCPL. Gruetzmacher told the committee that “it doesn’t seem right” that BCPL is in direct competition with private industry and private banks. He said that their rates were actually better than BCPL’s. When asked about what local banks are doing to promote their municipal lending programs, Gruetzmacher acknowledged that most of it is through word-of-mouth and that they don't really formally market it. 


  • ·         A local government economic development panel that included representatives from the Town of Scott and the City of West Allis testified about the impact of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan program on their communities. Individuals from the Town of Scott said that as a small town they don’t have the staff or support to go to the bonding market. They said that BCPL is an easy application and lending option that banks can’t deliver. Patrick Schloss said that the Trust Fund Loan program is one of the few tools that both small and large communities have to finance projects quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. He gave an example of West Allis using a BCPL loan to fix a flooded site in their city which then led to a $43 million development that was funded by a private entity. Representative Katsma asked if they ever go to local banks and borrow from them. The officials from Town of Scott said they borrow from banks too, generally for shorter loans. Patrick Schloss said they either use the bond market or BCPL. He also said that banks have lending limits that impact how many projects they fund in a given community. 

  •          Phil Cosson, Senior Municipal Advisor/Director, of Ehlers, Inc. Ehlers is an independent municipal advisory firm that works exclusively with municipalities and school districts. He told the Committee they strongly believe in the BCPL and their loan program and that it’s an important tool in Wisconsin. Ehlers is required to look at and present all available options to their clients. He said that in Wisconsin, there are very few options for the issuance of debt compared to other states. He said that they do develop relationships with local banks and, when appropriate, they look at other programs like BCPL and loan programs like the rural development loans and programs run by DNR and DOA. The goal is to make sure the municipality is receiving the best deal possible for taxpayers. They look at cost, risk and the structure of existing debt. He said the BCPL program fills a gap that would be more challenging for a bank or the general market to fill, especially for economic development projects because of its flexibility and ability to re-structure. He said that private activity debt isn’t necessarily a good fit for local banks, but BCPL can accommodate it. He said that small communities often can’t access financing in the bond market and that local banks want to do shorter loan terms that don’t always work for the project that municipality wants to do. He told the Committee that local banks are not shut out of the process and that every local bank in a community is given the opportunity to bid on competitive bond sales. He said they also work with local banks at the discretion and direction of the local government. Representative Katsma asked Cosson if he observed that there were less opportunities for municipalities to borrow money in the recession of 2008. Cosson told him that after the recession access to capital was an issue and it became very difficult to secure financing and that the BCPL loan program provided a real option in those difficult times.

  • ·    Officials from the University of Wisconsin System testified about the Normal School Fund ($495,000 distribution in 2017-18), Agricultural Fund ($10,600 distribution in 2017-18) and University Fund ($7,266 distribution in 2017-18), which are administered by BCPL. These funds benefit the Nelson Institute at UW-Madison, environmental programs at UW-Stevens Point, the Sustainable Management Degree Program at UW-Extension, the UW Merit Scholarships and programs for the benefit of agricultural and the mechanic arts. Senator Taylor (D-Milwaukee) asked why almost all of the funding was going to UW-Stevens Point for the environmental programs. The UW Officials said the programs run by UW-Stevens Point benefit people across the state, including the K-12 Environmental Education Leadership program.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Study Committee on BCPL, CSF Meeting Today!

The Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds is meeting today (September 5) starting at 10 a.m. 

They will hear from the CommonFund Institute, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, the Wisconsin Bankers Association, Local Government Economic Development experts, and the University of Wisconsin System.

You can watch the whole thing live on Wisconsin Eye: http://www.wiseye.org/Live

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

WEMTA Members Testify Before Study Committee on BCPL, CSF

WEMTA was invited to present to the Legislative Council Study Committee on Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds on August 16. We were asked to answer questions about the Common School Fund and how it benefits school libraries. 

WEMTA's presentation was led by Legislative Committee Chair Janet Vraney and WEMTA members Micki Uppena, Tony Spence and Kay Benning.  They educated Committee members on all of the great things happening in our school libraries because of the Common School Fund and, explained that for the vast majority of WEMTA members, CSF dollars are the only funding they receive for their school library program. In addition, they highlighted the stability of the Common School Fund and told the Committee that school libraries want a dedicated, reliable and consistent funding source. 

You can view WEMTA's presentation and the full Committee meeting here. They plan to meet again on September 5. 

The Committee also heard from:

  • Staff from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands talked about how they invest the Common School Fund and other trust funds. They talked a lot about the history of the BCPL and the Common School Fund and their investment policy. They said that the State of Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB) would generate the same return for the Common School Fund as BCPL because they would need to operate under the same statutory and constitutional constraints. They also said that if the Common School Fund had been invested in a more risky manner during the economic downturn of 2007-09, there would not have been any Common School Fund Distributions for 5-8 years. 
  • A panel of local government officials discussed the importance of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. They said that many small municipalities can't access the bond market and that private loans have higher costs. Robert Scott, director of finance for the City of Brookfield, said: "Restriction or elimination of the Trust Fund Loan program would not only jettison a smart fiscal tool for hundreds of local governments in Wisconsin, but it could also curtail infrastructure and economic development projects that but for the state Trust Fund Loan program would have either not occurred or would cost taxpayers more in the long run."
  • BCPL Commissioner State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk  testified about why he thinks the BCPL and the Common School Fund should change. He said that the goal of making changes is to double the rate of return for schools.He said that the state should remove school libraries as the dedicated beneficiary of the Common School Fund so that the CSF could be "free money for the school districts." He said that they could find a different way to fund school libraries; for example, through the general fund. He told the Committee the SWIB is the gold standard and should be allowed to invest the money. Adamczyk also told the Committee that he opposes the loan program because it is "stealing money" from a private entity (banks). 
  • A panel of school district officials  spoke about the importance of the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program and the Common School Fund. They said it can be challenging for their small local banks to help them with loans.Todd Carlson, superintendent of the Gillett School District said that the Common School Fund is vital to his district. Carlson said that 95% of their yearly operating budget is fixed costs for things like transportation, salaries and utilities, so they often don't have room for the extras. Brian Krey, business manager for the River Valley School District, which has four schools, said the Common School Fund is the sole budget for his libraries and that he supports keeping it as a dedicated funding source for libraries. "Knowing that it's stable and dependent is really important to us. School funding is anything but that, especially in a district like ours where we're declining in student enrollment. So knowing that that money is going to be there, year-after-year, is very, very beneficial for our entire community," said Krey.  
  • BCPL Commissioner Secretary of State Doug La Follette. He said that the BCPL system is working and that it has been modernized. 









Monday, August 13, 2018

Don't Forget to Vote Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th!


Be sure to vote in the primary election tomorrow, Tuesday, August 14th! There are statewide primary races for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer and U.S. Senate. There are also local primary races for State Assembly and State Senate seats as well as Congressional seats. 
  
Primary: August 14, 2018 Polls Open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Review A Sample Ballot Before Heading to the Polls: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-US/PreviewMyBallot

One-Party Primary Voting: You can only participate in one party’s primary. You will need to decide whether you want to vote in the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Wisconsin Green, or Constitution party primary.

Registering to Vote: You can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. You will need to bring proof of residence, such as a valid driver’s license or state ID card, a bank statement, paycheck, or recent gas, electric or telephone bill. NOTE: This is not a complete list of acceptable proof of residence documents.

Photo ID: A photo ID is required to vote. Visit  https://www.bringitwisconsin.com/ to see a list of acceptable IDs.

Find your polling place and see a sample ballot at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/

BCPL Candidates: The Offices of Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer are extremely important to the WEMTA because they serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL) which oversees the Common School Fund. WEMTA surveyed every candidate for Attorney General, Secretary of State and State Treasurer about their positions on key BCPL and Common School Fund issues. Their responses have been compiled in this non-partisan voter guide, and their answers appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Wisconsin's Primary Election is 11 Days Away!


Wisconsin’s 2018 Partisan Primary is Tuesday, August 14. There are several statewide races on the ballot. Primaries are also required for some State Assembly, State Senate and U.S. House races. The winners of these primaries will be on the general election ballot on November 6.

Governor

An eight-person Democratic primary field is vying for a chance to challenge Governor Walker, who is running for his third term. Democratic candidates include State Senator Kathleen Vinehout, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, State Superintendent Tony Evers, former State Representative Kelda Roys, attorney Matt Flynn, political activist Mike McCabe, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin Mahlon Mitchell, and attorney Josh Pade. Governor Walker has a Republican primary election against software publisher Robert Meyer.

Education has become a top issue in the race as Governor Walker is campaigning as the “pro-education” governor. He has featured his investments in education in his campaign ads and has said that he will continue the UW System Tuition Freeze if re-elected. Walker’s Republican primary opponent, Robert Meyer, says he will work to improve education outcomes for all students. Every Democratic candidate calls for increased K-12 education funding in their education proposals. Roys, Soglin and Vinehout all reference the need to make changes to the school funding formula on their campaign websites while Evers has released a proposal to change the formula as part of his 2019-21 state budget request.  In addition, all of the candidates have gone to the record saying that they support the repeal of Act 10. Flynn, Evers, Mitchell and Roys say on their campaign websites that they support creating a way to re-finance student loans. Flynn says on his campaign website that he will stop expansion of the school choice program, Vinehout has links to several columns she’s written expressing concerns about expansion and funding of the choice program, and McCabe and Roys say that they will phase it out.



Josh Pade Campaign Website (does not have dedicated issues section)


Lt. Governor

There is also a Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor. Former state representative Mandela Barnes is running against entrepreneur Kurt Kober. Kober says that education will be his top priority if elected, and lays out proposals to change the school funding formula, reduce standardized testing and streamline education to promote lifelong learning on his campaign website. Barnes also lists education as a top priority and supports modifying the school funding formula, community schools, free two-year college and debt-free four year college.


Current Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch does not have a primary challenger.

Lt. Governor Kleefisch (does not appear to have an active campaign website yet, but is featured on Governor Walker’s site).  

State Treasurer and Secretary of State

There are both Republican and Democratic primaries in the race to fill the open State Treasurer seat. A key issue in the campaign has been the future of the office now that voters have rejected the idea of eliminating the office. There are also Republican and Democratic primaries for Secretary of State. Both of these offices serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which oversees the Common School Fund. To see where the candidates for the two offices stand on issues important to WEMTA, check out our voter guide or older posts that we've done on this blog about the races.

U.S. Senate

A tough Republican primary is taking place for one of Wisconsin’s U.S. Senate seats. State Senator Leah Vukmir is squaring off against retired Marine Kevin Nicholson for a chance to challenge Senator Tammy Baldwin.


Current U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin does not have a primary challenger.

Wisconsin Primary Election Information

Primary: August 14, 2018

Polls Open: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

One-Party Primary Voting: You can only participate in one party’s primary. You will need to decide whether you want to vote in the Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Wisconsin Green, or Constitution party primary.

In-Person Early Voting: Check with your local clerk about early voting hours in your municipality: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/MyMunicipalClerk

Absentee Ballots: The deadline to request an absentee ballot be sent to you is 5 p.m. on August 9. You must provide a photocopy of your photo ID when requesting an absentee ballot. Your completed absentee ballot must be delivered no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day.  It is recommended that you place your completed absentee ballot in the mail one week before Election Day to ensure that it arrives in time.

Registering to Vote: You can register to vote at the polls on Election Day. You will need to bring proof of residence, such as a valid driver’s license or state ID card, a bank statement, paycheck, or recent gas, electric or telephone bill. NOTE: This is not a complete list of acceptable proof of residence documents.

Photo ID: A photo ID is required to vote. Visit www.bringitwisconsin.com to see a list of acceptable IDs.

Find Your Polling Place: Find your polling place and see a sample ballot at www.myvote.wi.gov.
General Election: November 6, 2018. The winner of each party’s primary will advance to the General Election ballot.


Thursday, August 2, 2018

BCPL Commissioners Schimel, La Follette Raise Concerns About State Treasurer's Treatment of BCPL Staff

Several news outlets are reporting that BCPL Commissioners Attorney General Brad Schimel and Secretary of State Doug La Follette said on the record at last week's BCPL meeting that they feel their fellow Commissioner State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk is treating BCPL staff inappropriately. Schimel described Adamczyk's approach to working with staff as  "abusive and unreasonable."

BCPL Commissioners and BCPL staff oversee the investments of the state trust funds, including the Common School Fund.

During the meeting, Adamczyk said he was concerned that the BCPL staff was not qualified to make investments and argued that the BCPL trust funds, including the Common School Fund, should be transferred to the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.

You can listen to the full board meeting here: ftp://doaftp1380.wi.gov/doadocs/BCPL/2018-07-24_BCPL-BoardMtgRecording.mp3 

Wisconsin State JournalAttorney General publicly slams State Treasurer as 'unreasonable and abusive' to state workers

The Cap Times: Treasurer Matt Adamczyk's demands to state employees 'abusive' and 'unreasonable,' says AG Brad Schimel

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Attorney General Candidate Responses to WEMTA Questions


Attorney General Candidate Responses


WEMTA asked every Attorney General candidate the following questions. Their responses are compiled below and appear in the order in which their names are listed on the ballot.

1. What do you believe the role of the attorney general is in relation to public education in Wisconsin?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): Our attorney general must work to make our schools safer. I believe Wisconsin should increase funding for mental health programs in schools and enact common-sense gun-safety measures, including universal background checks and a ban on bump stocks.

As a member of the BCPL, the AG must also work with the other members of the BCPL and BCPL staff members to ensure that the assets in the Common School Fund that benefit our public school libraries are managed appropriately. Our public school libraries don’t just promote reading; they ensure that students in Wisconsin have access to information and technology.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): My primary function as attorney general is to see the laws of the state of Wisconsin are enforced, including any laws regarding public education.

2. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have eliminated the requirement that Common School Fund distributions be given to school libraries. What is your position on this proposal?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I oppose this proposal.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I have not read the legislation or proposal details. I am “by default” opposed to any reductions in funding of any kind to school or public libraries.

3. Legislation introduced during the 2017-18 legislative session would have ended the BCPL Trust Fund Loan Program. What is your position on this proposal?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I oppose this proposal.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I have not read the legislation so cannot comment on this. I am “by default” opposed to making changes to trust funds left by those who came before us to care for.

4. How will you ensure that the Common School Fund and other BCPL trust funds are receiving all required deposits from fines, fees and forfeitures and other constitutionally required funding streams?

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I believe the AG should work with the other members of the BCPL and BCPL staff members to ensure that the clear proceeds of fines, fees, and forfeitures are deposited into the Common School Fund.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): I am responsible as attorney general to see that anything “constitutionally required” happens. I would have to intervene if required funding streams are not received.

5. What issues or policies will you prioritize if elected? 

Brad Schimel (R), Incumbent: Did not respond.

Josh Kaul (D): I’m a former federal prosecutor, and I want my family -- and families throughout Wisconsin -- to live in a state that’s safer and stronger than we’re on track for right now.

I believe we need new leadership when it comes to fighting crime and getting justice for Wisconsinites. The opioid epidemic has been devastating for Wisconsin families and continues to get worse, and we have a growing meth problem. I believe we need to do more to ensure that enforcement efforts are targeting large-scale drug traffickers; we need to increase access to substance-abuse treatment; and we need to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the role they played in creating and exacerbating the opioid epidemic.

As discussed above, I believe we need to do more to address school safety as well. While our current AG has criticized gun-free school zones and suggested that we consider arming teachers, I believe we must keep our gun-free school zones and I’m opposed to arming teachers. I also believe our AG must ensure that justice isn’t being delayed because of delays in the testing of evidence.

In addition, we need an AG who is independent, who will be a watchdog for Wisconsinites, and who will seriously and even-handedly enforce the laws that protect our environment and our consumer-protection laws.

Terry Larson (Constitution Party): My current list of priorities includes stopping several things in Wisconsin by enforcing state laws:

1. The enforcement of federal Supreme Court opinions as law upon Wisconsin citizens.

2. The destruction or removal of Civil War memorials or monuments including those for the Confederacy.

3. The creation of sanctuary areas for illegal aliens.

4. Infringements upon the freedom of speech or the right to bear arms which the citizens of Wisconsin have under both our federal and state constitutions.