March 15, 2017
State budget bill spotlight: Workforce Development
The WEDA Legislative Committee and Board continues to review and discuss the governor's state budget bill and the recently released Legislative Fiscal Bureau budget papers, but WEDA is encouraged by a number of workforce development-related provisions included in the bill:
As the state budget process continues to unfold, WEDA welcomes your input on the state budget bill -- including the workforce development budget initiatives listed above. If you have any questions or comments, please contact WEDA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Economic development benefits fraud bill to be re-introduced
Wisconsin legislators plan to reintroduce legislation that would make it a felony to defraud the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp (WEDC). The bill is similar to legislation introduced last session, but failed to pass. While WEDA strongly believes fraud should never be tolerated, we have expressed concern the bill could cast a shadow over Wisconsin's economic development environment by subjecting businesses or other parties, such as local EDOs, to criminal penalties for making an honest mistake or failing to meet economic projections.
In addition to the legislation’s criminal penalties, the proposal would prohibit an individual who commits economic development benefits fraud from receiving economic development benefits from WEDC for 7 years. It would also allow WEDC to bring a civil action to recover damages related to fraud.
WEDA Legislative Tracking: What's happening under the Capitol dome
Nearly three month into the 2017-18 legislative session, hundreds of bills have already been introduced and many more have been proposed. The WEDA Legislative Committee has certainly reviewed its far share of bills this session, from a cell tower siting bill to wetland regulation proposal -- and everything in between.
Most recently, WEDA has acted to support Senate Bill 49, a rural broadband expansion bill that provides over $20 million in new funding to increase access to broadband in rural Wisconsin through the state's Broadband Expansion Grant Program and the Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) program. In additional, WEDA has decided to support a workforce development proposal that would enhance the current Career and Technical Education (CTE) Incentive Grant program that incentivizes school districts to offer high-quality career and technical education programs to address the state’s workforce shortages in key industries and occupations. Please find below an overview of the CTE grant program bill (LRB-1557):
Under current law, the CTE Incentive Grant program provides grants to Wisconsin schools that offer technical education programs in industries and occupations with workforce shortages. The grants reimburse school districts up to $1,000 for each pupil in the district earning an approved industry-recognized certification. The grant program, funded through the Department of Workforce Development’s Fast Forward program, is capped at $3 million per year. As a result, and due to high participation under the program, grant awards to schools are being prorated.
Under LRB 1557, the CTE Incentive Grant Program would no longer be funded through Fast Forward and instead would be funded through a separate sum-sufficient appropriation – meaning grant awards would no longer be prorated and schools would receive the full $1,000 per student. In addition, the bill eliminates the current cap that limits awards to one grant award (of $1,000) per student. Instead, schools would be rewarded for students graduating with multiple certifications. The bill would help strengthen the state’s support for technical education in Wisconsin high schools with the goal of making sure students are graduating with the skills Wisconsin employers need in today’s economy.
Highlighting the Success of TIF: Oshkosh op-ed
The WEDA Government Affairs team continues to meet with lawmakers to discuss the benefits of tax incremental financing (TIF) and request their support for a TIF modernization legislative package to improve TIF effectiveness, increase accountability and give Wisconsin communities greater flexibility to drive economic development.
Most legislators are generally support TIF, as its the only consistent tool their local governments can use to attract private investment and grow the local economy. However, there are also legislators who are concerned TIF has been overused or used in a manner that lies outside the original intent of state TIF law. As such, the WEDA Government Affairs Team will continue to implement an aggressive legislative outreach campaign to educate lawmakers and help move the TIF modernization package through the legislative process.
As was reported in the last edition of Political News and Notes, WEDA is also working with our strategic partners, including WI Realtors Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities and NAIOP, on an earned media campaign to educate the public on how TIF works and how it can lead to economic growth and job creation. To date, op-eds were written by NAIOP Wisconsin CEO Jim Villa on the tremendous success of a TID in Verona, WI and a thriving TID in Sturtevant.
The most recent article in the TIF op-ed campaign focuses on the city of Oshkosh: TIF at heart of Oshkosh revitalization and business growth. The article was written by WEDA Legislative Affairs and Communications Director Michael Welsh.
For more information on TIF in Wisconsin, please visit the TIF Success page on the WEDA website.