January 2017 Legislative Update
Saturday, January 28, 2017
By Michael Welsh, WEDA Director of Legislative Affairs
The 2017-18 Wisconsin legislative session began earlier this month, and the first bill introduced was a TIF-related bill. If that’s any indication of how this legislative session is going to go, it’s going to be a busy one for WEDA. If nothing else, the bill has generated a robust discussion in the State Capitol about the value of TIF.
The legislation would increase, from 12 percent to 15 percent, the allowable ratio of Tax Incremental District (TID) value increments to total equalized value of taxable property in the village of Oostburg. Under the current 12 percent limit, Oostburg is "TIFed out," and without the relief provided by the bill, the village could lose a proposed $50 million development project with roughly 130 associated jobs. The legislation recently passed the state Senate on a unanimous vote and is under further consideration by the Assembly.
Unfortunately, Oostburg is not the only community experiencing problems with the 12 percent cap. Over 55 other municipalities currently have 10 to 15 percent of their equalized values in TIDs. WEDA took advantage of recent action on the Oostburg bill to reiterate the need to apply a 15 percent TIF limit statewide and bring needed TIF flexibility to communities across Wisconsin.
The Oostburg TIF bill also provided a great opportunity for WEDA to continue conversations with state legislators and the governor’s office on advancing comprehensive TIF modernization legislation to improve TIF effectiveness, increase accountability and give local communities greater ability to drive economic development.
Of course, TIF isn’t the only legislative issue of interest to WEDA, and it certainly isn’t the only topic of discussion in the State Capitol. Early this month, Gov. Scott Walker gave his State of the State address and highlighted the need to strengthen workforce development and expand broadband access in Wisconsin.
The Governor followed up his State of the State speech by unveiling his welfare reform package – Wisconsin Works for Everybody. The initiative aims to extend work requirements to able-bodied adults with school-age children who are receiving FoodShare, as well as to able-bodied adults receiving housing assistance. The proposal also seeks to expand job training programs for the unemployed or underemployed, including incarcerated individuals and ex-offenders. The proposal will be included in Walker’s budget proposal, which will be introduced on Feb. 8.
Numerous other legislation proposals that could impact economic development and WEDA members are also on the horizon, including those dealing with wetland regulation, the “dark store” theory, and workforce talent attraction and retention. WEDA’s Government Affairs Team will be monitoring all proposed legislation that may impact WEDA and its members and provide regular updates in each edition of Political News and Notes and through WEDA’s online bill tracking tool.
WEDA 2017 Legislative Day
In addition to simply staying informed, WEDA members also have a unique opportunity to engage in the legislative process and help advance the Association’s Legislative Agenda. On Wednesday, March 29, WEDA will hold its annual Legislative Day, which brings WEDA members from across the state together in Madison to build relationships with state lawmakers, educate them on WEDA’s legislative priorities and help influence critical economic development policy in Wisconsin.
So please mark your calendars and plan to participate in the WEDA 2017 Legislative Day. Your involvement is essential to WEDA’s legislative success and ultimately the success of Wisconsin’s economy.
If you would like additional information on Legislative Day or WEDA’s legislative advocacy efforts, please contact WEDA at firstname.lastname@example.org.