In his first proposed budget, Gov. Evers’ lifts up working families in many ways and moves Wisconsin forward to create better jobs and a stronger middle class. Outlined in Gov. Evers’ People’s Budget are plans to raise wages, strengthen union freedoms, invest in public schools, end partisan gerrymandering, secure clean drinking water and much more. The Wisconsin State AFL-CIO looks forward to working with Gov. Evers to complete the reversal of each and every one of the attacks on working people from the previous administration, which includes the complete restoration of all collective bargaining rights to public sector workers and their unions.
This budget is about creating a Wisconsin that works for everyone. Get the facts. See how Gov. Evers’ first budget helps working families in Wisconsin with the Wisconsin AFL-CIO 2019-2021 Budget Breakdown.
Repeal of Right to Work
Gov. Evers’ Budget repeals the harmful so-called Right to Work law and restores the right of working people to stick together in their union to maximize their collective bargaining power with strong unions to bargain for better wages, working conditions, and safety on the job. The full repeal of Right to Work is a step towards restoring union rights in Wisconsin. Strengthening union freedoms will build a healthier middle class with good wages and contracts.
Restore Prevailing Wage
Prevailing Wage laws set a wage floor for Wisconsin’s construction workers and ensure a level playing field for Wisconsin’s workers and contractors alike. Restoring prevailing wage will help grow our economy with family-supporting jobs while ensuring construction projects are safely completed on time and on budget. This Budget restores prevailing wage laws for certain state and local projects and requires the DWD to administer the process of setting the prevailing wage rates and the trades and occupations that are covered under this portion of this Budget. This move will better secure resources for training and apprenticeship programs.
Gov. Evers’ Budget calls for raising the minimum wage and increasing starting pay for corrections officers.
Wisconsin’s current minimum wage, which currently stands at $7.25 per hour, is not sustainable for workers, their families, or our communities. Minimum wage laws should ensure that those who work do not toil in poverty and similarly ensure that local economies do not lag. Gov. Evers’ Budget moves in the right direction to increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage by proposing a $1/hour increase upon the Budget’s passage. The Budget then proposes to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour and would then index the minimum wage to inflation. This Budget creates a taskforce to study options to achieve a $15 minimum wage and other options to increase compensation for Wisconsin’s workers.
Gov. Evers’ Budget puts our kids first by investing in their education at our public schools. The Budget returns the State funding of public schools to 2/3 of school revenue. This budget particularly increases funding for special education. It also stops increases in unaccountable private voucher and charter schools, while not affecting students currently enrolled at these institutions.
Every ten years, the State Legislature is required to redistrict legislative boundaries according to the population. This Budget creates a nonpartisan redistricting commission and requires it to work with the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau to draw legislative and congressional redistricting maps in a fair manner, to ensure that voters pick their elected officials and it is not politicians picking their voters
Removing Lead from Service Lines
Gov. Evers’ Budget commits to safe and clean drinking water for Wisconsinites by investing $40 million in the safe drinking water loan program for the replacement of lead service lines. Much of this work is done by skilled union trades men and women. This investment will assist local governments that are trying to replace the lead pipes that can carry contaminated water to our families. It is estimated that in Wisconsin there are 170,000 lead service lines. This Budget also provides a 50% increase in the State’s Safe Water Loan program, which is jointly administered by the Departments of Administration and Natural Resources and which provides financial assistance to municipalities for drinking water infrastructure projects.
Expand Medicaid / BadgerCare
The People’s Budget calls for expanding BadgerCare by accepting federal funds. This move makes fiscal sense and is long overdue. This expansion will allow 82,000 more Wisconsinites to receive affordable, quality healthcare coverage while saving the State $300 million. By accepting the federal dollars and expanding Medicaid, Wisconsin would join the 36 other states that have already done so.
Investments in Mental Health
The Budget makes investments in both mental health and substance abuse including funding for youth crisis centers and peer-run respite centers for veterans.
Restore Project Labor Agreements
Project Labor Agreements are a longstanding mechanism used by the private and public sector to ensure that a project will be completed on-time and on-budget. Project Labor Agreements do so by providing a reliable supply of highly-qualified workers at predictable cost and by ensuring that safety, training, and other community standards are upheld through the project. In 2017, Republican politicians jammed a bill through the Legislature that essentially prohibited the use of Project Labor Agreements by state and local governments. This Budget repeals this prohibition and returns the power to determine whether to utilize Project Labor Agreements to the state and local governments
Wisconsin roads rank some of the worst in the nation. The budget recommends a long-term plan to responsibly pay for our roads and decrease borrowing. This Budget puts forth a plan to sustainably fund transportation, fix our roads and crumbling infrastructure, and boasts the lowest highway borrowing in 20 years. It does so with a plan that makes it possible for motorists to pay less at the pump, as the Budget increases the gas tax by just 8 cents while eliminating the minimum markup on motor fuel, a hidden tax that costs at least 14 cents per gallon at current gas prices. This Budget’s transportation plan also restarts the indexing of the gas tax to inflation, increases heavy truck fees, and increases vehicle title fees by $10. Gov. Evers’ transportation budget also increases funding for highways and local roads.
The budget expands the dementia care specialist program to all Aging and Disability Resource Centers throughout the state.
Restoring Local Control
With the goal to increase workforce fairness, the budget restores the ability of local governments to come together and decide what’s best for them in terms of family and medical leave, wage claims, employee benefit, overtime and salary history ordinances. Gov. Evers’ budget restores local control to our communities in a number of areas. For example, the Budget repeals the many preemption laws that were passed under former Gov. Walker and allows local governments to set their own priorities in establishing licensing and employment standards that are higher than state requirements. The Budget also allows counties and municipalities to make the decision of whether to increase their levy limit. The Budget allows for cities and counties to work cooperatively regarding cross-municipality transit routes.
Increase Shared Revenue
The State provides financial aid to local governments through a number of ways, both specific and general or unrestricted aid. The largest general aid to local governments is called Shared Revenue. Between 2009 and 2019, Shared Revenue to counties and municipalities saw a net reduction of 9.2%, which proved devastating to many local governments. This Budget will increase the funding for Shared Revenue by 2% starting in January 2020 which will help strengthen local services provided by local workers.
UW System & Technical Colleges: Increased Support
This Budget uplifts the UW System, which provides organization and structure to the Wisconsin Idea, educates more than 170,000 students on 26 campuses, and serves more than one million citizens through statewide extension programs, by investing more than $150 million while continuing the tuition freeze for students and their families. This Budget also values our Wisconsin Technical College System by significantly funding it by an additional $18 million and allowing for it to increase funding though levy limit adjustment. In addition, all high school students who graduate from a Wisconsin high school and have lived in Wisconsin for three or more years would be eligible for instate resident tuition.
Expand Wisconsin’s Family & Medical Leave Act
Wisconsin was the first state to pass a Family and Medical Leave Act in 1988. Yet, the Wisconsin FMLA does not cover every worker and does not guarantee paid leave. This Budget takes a step in the right direction by expanding who qualifies for Wisconsin’s FMLA: it would cover more employees by applying the law to employers with 25 or more employees across the State, instead of the current limit to employers with 50 or more employees across the State; expanding FMLA leave to be taken for additional family members including a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling with a serious medical condition; and would expand the reasons for FMLA leave to be taken to include an unforeseen or unexpected closure of a school or child care facility.
Strengthening the Homestead Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit
This Budget strengthens the Homestead tax credit by increasing the income threshold of the credit and then indexing the tax credit for inflation. Wisconsin’s Homestead tax credit helps Wisconsin home owners and renters who work in low-wage jobs, and more specifically helps older workers by offsetting their property tax burden. The Homestead Tax Credit had been significantly weakened under the prior Administration. The Budget also strengthens the Earned Income Tax Credit by increasing this credit as a percentage of the federal credit from 4% to 11% for tax filers with one child and from 11% to 14% for filers with two children.
Strengthening Licensing Regulations
This Budget strengthens licensing regulations by requiring all teachers who are employed at private voucher schools to hold a teacher’s license, as is currently required for public school teachers. This Budget also increases staffing levels to process licenses and investigate regulation violations, ensuring public safety and high professional standards.
Middle Class Tax Cut, Done in a Fair and Sustainable Method
This Budget creates the Family and Individual Reinvestment “FAIR” Act. The Fair Act would cut taxes for the middle class by 10% (single filers with a gross income of $80,000 or less and married filers with a gross income of $125,000 or less). Under the FAIR tax credit, the median family of four would receive a tax cut of over $1,000 over the budget biennium. The Budget pays for this FAIR tax credit by capping a tax break for the wealthy (known as the Manufacturers and Agriculture Tax Credit) created by former Gov. Walker. At present, almost 80% of this tax credit goes to individuals with incomes over $1 million. By shifting our state’s focus to working families, this bill limits the tax credit for the wealthy to $300,000 of income from manufacturing, leaves the credit fully intact for those who receive income from farming and agriculture, and allows the middle class to enjoy a tax cut in a financially sustainable manner.
Automatic Voter Registration
This Budget makes voting more accessible with an automatic system of voter registration to make sure each and every eligible voter has the full opportunity to vote. This Budget requires the Department of Transportation to work with the Elections Commission to implement voter registration for all eligible voters who come to the DMV for a drivers license or identification card.
Holding Corporations Accountable
This Budget removes a loophole from current law that allows companies that move jobs out of state to receive a tax deduction for the moving expenses. This Budget prohibits companies to claim this tax deduction for shipping Wisconsin jobs to another state or country. The Budget would also bring increased accountability and transparency to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (“WEDC”), which gives out credits and loans to businesses.
Protect Pre-Existing Conditions
This Budget ensures that health insurance policies and benefit plans do not discriminate against people with preexisting conditions.
Take Action: Attend a Budget Hearing
Attend a public hearing near you to voice your support for the Budget’s many policies that help lift up working families and strengthen worker rights. Budget items that are good for working people may not pass without your show of support.
Make your voice heard. Attend a JFC Budget Hearing near you. Together, let’s call for a budget that boost worker incomes, restores worker rights, and grows our middle class.
Hearings begin at 10:00 a.m.
Friday, April 5: Janesville, Pontiac Center
Thursday, April 10: Oak Creek, Oak Creek Community Center
Monday, April 15: River Falls, UW-River Falls
Wednesday, April 24: Green Bay, UW-Green Bay