Capitol Notes

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The Republican-controlled Joint Finance committee last week continued its work on Gov. Tony Evers' budget proposal. It voted to increase funding for public schools by $500 million, rejecting Evers' request for $1.5 billion.  

Republicans say $500 million is the most the state can afford, while Evers hopes to work with the GOP to get more money. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asks JR Ross, of, if he thinks Evers will get a better deal.


State Republicans held their annual convention this past weekend in Oshkosh, WI. Party members and leaders used the event to look at what went wrong for the GOP in the fall of 2018 — and to better position the party for the 2020 elections.

While Republicans maintained the majority in the state Legislature in the fall elections, the party's candidates lost in all statewide races.

JR Ross of says presenters at the convention talked about how GOP candidates suffered last fall by drifting from the grassroots.


Republicans on the Joint Finance committee last week stripped many of Gov. Tony Evers' policy items out of his proposed budget. Evers campaigned on many of these issues, including expanding Medicaid, as well as legalizing medical marijuana and decriminalizing small amounts. Republicans also rejected Evers' plan to borrow up to $40 million to replace lead pipes, mostly in Milwaukee.

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Gov. Tony Evers last week sought to clarify some comments he made about Foxconn. He said he wanted to renegotiate the state's contract with the Taiwanese company because it's "unrealistic" to think it will create 13,000 jobs at the LCD screen plant it's building in Racine County — especially given the reduced size of the project. Republican Legislative leaders blasted Evers, accusing him of trying to undermine the deal. 

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Gov. Tony Evers announced last week that he wants to renegotiate the state's contract with Foxconn.  He says it's "unrealistic" to think the Taiwanese company will employ 13,000 people at the LCD screen manufacturing plant in Racine County, especially given that the size of the facility has been reduced.  

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, if Evers' announcement took him by surprise, and what a revision of the contract with Foxconn would look like.


The results of the state Supreme Court race were finalized last week when Appeals Judge Lisa Neubauer, who was backed by Democrats, conceded to conservative Appeals Judge Brian Hagedorn. The court currently leans 4-3 conservative. When Hagedorn takes office in August, the gap will increase to 5-2 conservative.  

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, JR Ross of, tells WUWM's Marti Mikkelson that the wider gap could bode well for Republicans who control the Legislature.

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The Wisconsin Supreme Court election made headlines last week, with a race too close to call. According to unofficial totals, about 6,000 votes separate Appeals Court Judge Brian Hagedorn, who's backed by conservatives, and Appeals Court Judge Lisa Neubauer, who's backed by liberals. The margin between the candidates is half a percentage point.  


News about the lame-duck laws approved in December dominated the headlines again last week in Wisconsin politics. A second Dane County judge blocked portions of the laws, which limit the powers of new Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul. Then, an appeals court reinstated the laws except for the parts that the Dane County judge blocked.


It was a wild ride at the State Capitol last week, as a Dane County judge struck down the lame-duck laws that the Republican-led Legislature passed in December, before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers took office. The laws stripped Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul of some of their powers. 


After months of anticipation, Milwaukee was chosen last week as the site of the Democratic National Convention in July of 2020.  The city beat out two other finalists — Houston and Miami Beach. President Donald Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016.  

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross, of, what kind of message Democrats hope to send in choosing Milwaukee.  

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We've been talking about Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' proposed biennial state budget for months. Then last week, he released his capital budget — a separate plan that includes the amount of money he's proposing for construction and building projects across the state. Evers wants to borrow an additional $2 billion to renovate UW System buildings, and to build a new adult prison near the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile facility in northern Wisconsin.  


Gov. Tony Evers delivered his budget address late last week to rousing applause from Democrats.  He included everything from a program that wouild provide drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants -- to a repeal of the lame duck laws that the Republican-controlled legislature passed in an attempt to weaken his powers. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last week he gives Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' plan to legalize marijuana, and decriminalize small amounts, a 10 percent chance of passing the Republican-controlled Legislature. Vos called the proposal a "very difficult sell" because it would decriminalize recreational marijuana. 


The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a middle class tax cut last week. It includes using a surplus to pay for the cut. Now, the ball is in Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' court. He also is pushing for a tax cut — but to pay for it, he wants to virtually eliminate a manufacturing tax credit. There's been talk that Evers will veto the GOP tax plan, and unveil his own, in his budget address later this month.  

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The Republican-controlled legislature is moving ahead with its plan for a middle class income tax cut.  A bill passed out of committee last week and is scheduled for floor debate Tuesday and Wednesday.  Lawmakers want to use a surplus to pay for the tax cut, while Gov. Tony Evers is pushing a plan to eliminate a tax credit for manufacturers.

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There was a lot of drama last week involving Foxconn.  The Taiwanese electronics giant said it would shift the focus of the huge plant it's building in Racine County from manufacturing LCD screens -- to research and development.  But, after a conversation between President Trump and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou, the company announced that LCD screen manufacturing at the plant is back on.

Gov. Tony Evers raised eyebrows last week when he announced in his first State of the State address that he was directing Attorney General Josh Kaul to withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. 


New Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, is locking horns with Republicans in the state Legislature. In the last week, Evers rejected GOP plans for a middle class tax cut, and to guarantee health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Republicans said they'd stand in Evers' way if he tries to expand Medicaid coverage.

New Gov. Tony Evers got some help last week when a coalition of liberal-leaning groups filed a lawsuit which, if successful, would benefit him. 

The suit seeks to overturn the laws Republican lawmakers approved last month that limit the Democratic governor's powers. 

The suit argues that GOP lawmakers illegally convened the lame duck session according to a joint rule, which doesn't have the force of law. 


Today is Inauguration Day in Wisconsin, and Tony Evers will be sworn-in as governor.  The Democrat defeated Republican Incumbent Scott Walker last November. 

Evers' term could be marked by gridlock as he battles a Republican-led legislature, which has already taken steps to limit his power.

For this week's "Capitol Notes," WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, about the other challenges Evers will face in the first few months of his tenure.

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In this New Year's edition of "Capitol Notes," we look ahead to the stories that'll likely top the headlines in 2019. It begins with the Jan. 7 inauguration of Democrat Tony Evers as Wisconsin governor. Evers narrowly defeated Republican Scott Walker in the November midterm election.  

Evers campaigned on promises to expand Medicaid, cut the prison population in half and pour an additional $1.4 billion in the public schools. But, Evers will likely run into roadblocks, trying to get the initiatives through the Republican-controlled legislature.

For our "Capitol Notes" conversation today, we're going to examine the year in politics. Probably the biggest story of 2018 — Republican Gov. Scott Walker narrowly lost his bid for a third term to Democratic challenger Tony Evers.  

For eight years, Walker and the Republican legislature had free reign to enact major policy changes, such as Act 10, Voter ID and concealed carry. Walker survived a recall attempt over Act 10 and then easily won a second term in 2014. But this time, voters wanted a change.

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Often, political news slows as the holidays approach. But that hasn't been the case this year. Democratic Governor-Elect Tony Evers has been busy announcing his first cabinet picks. Republican legislative leaders have been busy responding to the announcements. In this week's Capitol Notes, JR Ross of talks about the latest developments.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed the lame-duck bills into law late last week. The measures weaken the powers of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers. In addition, the legislation limits early voting to no more than two weeks before an election. Attorneys for a coalition of liberal groups asked a federal judge Monday to block the early voting restrictions.  

Walker signed the measures without issuing any vetoes. In this week's "Capitol Notes," WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of why Walker left the legislation intact.

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The legislative lame duck session dominated the news last week. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a sweeping package of bills designed to weaken the powers of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul. 

Now, many eyes are on Republican Gov. Walker to see if he'll sign the measures. Walker is being pressured by people on both sides of the aisle, not to sign the legislation and to think about his legacy.


Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature released plans late Friday for bills they’ll take up the first week of December. Lawmakers are going into session to consider limiting the power of Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers and Democratic Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul.

JR Ross of weighs in on the measures for this week’s Capitol Notes. He says if the proposals are approved, the changes would be a very big deal.


Last week saw more fallout from the Nov. 6 election.  Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel decided not to seek a recount in the race that he narrowly lost, to Democratic challenger Josh Kaul.  The next day, outgoing Gov. Scott Walker appointed Schimel to the post of Waukesha County Circuit Judge.  Some legislative Democrats decried the move, calling it "backscratching."

In this week's "Capitol Notes" conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of, what he thought of the optics surrounding the appointment.

Gov. Scott Walker avoided the public eye in the week following the election, in which he narrowly lost to Democratic challenger Tony Evers. But late last week, he surfaced. 

He says he's open to moving the date of Wisconsin's presidential primary in 2020, so that it won't be held on the same day as the state Supreme Court election. The move would help conservative Justice Daniel Kelly, a Walker appointee who would be up for election to a 10-year term in April of 2020. 

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Update Nov. 16

 Gov. Scott Walker made his first comments to reporters on Thursday after losing his re-election bid. He promised he wouldn't "retreat." Walker also signaled potential support for a variety of Republican-backed efforts to limit the power of his Democratic successor, including moving the date of the 2020 presidential primary.

Original Story Nov. 12


Last week, Tony Evers cleared a huge hurdle, winning the race for governor. But the Democrat’s biggest challenges are to come. The first is within a few months when Evers will have to present his first biennial budget proposal. According to a Wisconsin Policy Forum report, he'll have to find $2 billion just to keep current programs in place.