Gov. Tony Evers Unveils State Budget Bill Proposal
Earlier this evening, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers officially unveiled his 2021-23 state budget bill, which will now go the Republican-controlled Legislature, where lawmakers are likely to largely rewrite the proposal. The budget bill is an enormous document, and it will take time for the WEDA Government Affairs Team to fully analyze the legislation. However, upon initial review, the following economic development-related items included in the Governor’s $91 billion two-year spending plan for the state should be of interest to WEDA members:
- Provide the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) with $200 million to assist small businesses in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, including assistance for the retention of current employees and the rehiring of former employees.
- Create a venture capital program overseen by WEDC with $100 million in one-time funding. The program will be required to be a fund of funds investment program.
- Provide WEDC with $8 million in one-time funding to assist organizations focused on local or regional economic development to support those organizations’ pandemic recovery efforts.
- Increase WEDC’s total block grant funding by $10 million from $41,550,700 to $51,550,700 in each year of the budget cycle to assist with Wisconsin’s economic recovery efforts.
- Create a small business economic development program at WEDC benefiting tribes, funded at $390,000 annually.
- Create a new earnings activity for the Business Development Credit for energy efficiency and renewable energy project expenditures by a business, specifying WEDC may provide an incentive of up to 25 percent of expenditures on real or personal property for such projects.
- Increase the limit on how much the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) may invest of its general funds in small businesses and start-up companies from $1 million in total to $1 million annually.
- Establish a $50 million affordable workforce housing grant program to provide resources to local municipalities to encourage the development of additional affordable workforce housing in the state.
- Modify current tax incremental financing (TIF) law to allow municipalities to use TIF districts to spur the creation of workforce housing.
- Provide $250,000 annually to expand youth apprenticeship opportunities to more school districts and youth throughout the state.
- Provide $10 million for Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to fund worker training programs for individuals and organizations.
- Provide $8 million for pandemic recovery grants to local workforce development boards to fund local training programs.
- Provide $200,000 for local workforce development boards to hold hiring events throughout the state for health care-related careers and career exploration courses to increase interest in health care employment.
- Provide $9.7 million and project positions to create a new worker pilot program at the Department of Workforce Development to assist individuals in obtaining meaningful employment by overcoming barriers to employment.
- Increase funding for the Wisconsin Technical College System by $36 million.
- Provide $79.5 million in funding to overhaul the state’s unemployment insurance system.
- Limit the amount of qualified production activities income that may be claimed by manufacturing firms under the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit to $300,000 per tax year.
- Create a Wisconsin supplement to the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit equal to 50 percent of the amount a taxpayer claims for the federal credit. The tax credit provides a tax incentive to employers who hire individuals in targeted groups who otherwise may face difficulty accessing employment.
- If approved by local referendum, allow counties to impose an additional 0.5 percent sales tax and allow municipalities with populations over 30,000 to impose a 0.5 percent sales tax.
- Invest over $200 million to expand broadband access in Wisconsin, including $151.7 million for the Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
- Provide a total of $565.6 million in federal and state funds for the major highway program over the biennium to continue work on projects throughout the state.
- Provide $75 million for local multimodal transportation projects.
- Increase General Transportation Aids for both counties and municipalities by 2 percent in calendar year 2022 and by another 2 percent in calendar year 2023.
- Provide $3.5 million for a 2.5 percent annual increase in general transit operation aids for transit systems across the state.
- Increase State Highway Rehabilitation program funding by $66.6 million to provide a 3 percent increase over the prior biennium.
- Provide $40 million in bonding to start the I-94 East/West expansion project in Milwaukee County.
WEDA will continue to review Gov. Evers’ budget proposal and provide members with additional details on initiatives important to the economic development community.