Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Legislative Council Committee Votes to Introduce CSF Study Committee Legislation

Representative Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg) presented the StudyCommittee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds’ final report and recommendations to the full Joint Legislative Council Committee this morning. He told Committee members that he was “somewhat disappointed that we weren’t able to increase the returns” for the Common School Fund.  

The Legislative Council Committee voted unanimously to introduce the two draft bills authored by the Study Committee, which will now be given bill numbers and move through the typical legislative process. They are:

1    LRB 0438-1, which increases the length of terms that banks can make loans to municipalities from 10 years to 20 years.

2    LRB 0848-2, which gives SWIB the ability to invest Common School Fund dollars in the same manner as BCPL in the event that BCPL chooses to delegate some investment authority to SWIB.  

Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) said she noticed in the final report that there were a couple of items that the Committee couldn’t come to consensus on and asked if they had any recommendations related to those topics. Representative Katsma told her that BCPL is already using some new investment strategies, like putting funds into a smoothing account, and that the Study Committee wanted to see how that develops.

The full recommendation by the Study Committee reads as follows. The Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds:

• Appreciates the importance of the school trust funds to fund beneficiaries.
• Supports the goal of ensuring intergenerational equity through increasing the returns on the funds.
• Recognizes the value of recent legislative changes relating to the investment of the funds.
• Acknowledges that implementation of these changes is ongoing.
• Recommends that the Legislature further study issues relating to the investment of the funds, in consultation with beneficiary groups, once information on the results of the changes becomes available for study.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Study Committee on BCPL, Common School Fund Releases Its Final Report

The Study Committee on the Investment and Use of the School Trust Funds has released its final summary report.

The report outlines the Committee’s final recommendation and the two draft bills they voted to approve. It also provides a description of each of the meetings they held and the feedback they received from invited speakers, including WEMTA. 

This report will be given to the Joint Committee on Legislative Council.

WEMTA members outside the State Capitol after presenting to the Study Committee 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Gov. Evers Delivers State of the State, Outlines Education Priorities

Governor Evers delivered his first State of the State on Tuesday night before a joint session of the Legislature.

“The state of our state is that we've got work to do, and we're ready for bipartisan solutions,” said Evers.

His remarks focused heavily on the importance of bipartisan collaboration and “connecting the dots”, which he said will be the theme of his first state budget.  Evers told lawmakers that he expects them to take up his budget instead of crafting their own proposal.

“Connecting the dots means recognizing that what's best for our kids is best for our state,” said Evers. “The investment we make in our kids today will yield dividends for generations.”

Evers talked extensively about education, economic growth and technology, transportation, and health care. 

He also offered the following preview of this proposed state budget, which he said will include:

  • Restoring two-thirds state funding for schools.
  • A $600 million dollar increase in special education funding.
  • Closing the achievement gap for low-income students and students of color, which includes proposals to expand early childhood education and summer school grant programs.
  • A five-fold increase in mental health programs for K-12 students.
  • Expanding Medicaid to cover an additional 76,000 Wisconsinites.
  • Declaring 2019 is the Year of Clean Drinking Water in Wisconsin.
  • A 10% tax cut for everyone making up to $100,000 and families making up to $150,000.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos delivered the Republican response to the address. “No matter what you’ve heard, the state of our state is incredibly strong,” said Vos. He cited the fact that Wisconsin has the lowest tax burden in 50 years, our low unemployment rate and other economic statistics as examples of Wisconsin’s success, which he attributed Republican proposals implemented over the past eight years.  

"We will work to keep the tax burden lower and affordable for the middle class. We will protect those with pre-existing conditions. We will make record investments in K-12 education. And we will move Wisconsin forward," said Vos.