State Government

Daily Bread for 4.17.24: Big State Surplus Doesn’t Obscure Ongoing Needs

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be windy with a high of 64. Sunrise is 6:07 and sunset 7:40 for 13h 33m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 67.2 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

Whitewater’s Parks & Recreation Board meets at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1970, the damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft returns to Earth safely.

Wisconsin has a large general fund balance, but that multi-billion dollar figure isn’t so big that one can’t see unfilled needs behind it. Jessie Opoien reports Wisconsin’s general fund hit $6.7 billion and other takeaways from policy forum report:

The state’s general fund balance — its largest source of reserves — hit a record high of $6.7 billion by June 2023. That was a 42% increase over the previous year. 

The [Wisconsin] Policy Forum previously found that in 2020, the general fund had closed the fiscal year with a small positive balance for the first time on record — but the news came as the state grappled with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and faced a recession. The report attributes the strength of the general fund to federal aid, a resilient economy and the development of vaccines to mitigate the severity of the pandemic.

As of June 2023, the report found, Wisconsin had nearly 2.5 times more cash and liquid assets than short-term financial obligations — the highest ratio on record since 2002.


The percentage of state transportation fund revenues directed to paying off debt rose from 7% in 2002 to 18.9% in 2019. That share is projected to fall to 16.2% by 2025, thanks in part to fee increases and borrowing decreases, but transportation debt remains an issue.

“Going forward, transportation debt will likely remain an ongoing concern for Wisconsin unless lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers identify additional revenues for the transportation fund, make the general fund transfers permanent, or sharply scale back road projects. None of these options are politically appealing, making this an issue to watch in the next state budget,” the report noted.

A large surplus, ongoing needs for road projects, but beyond that: the surplus as a surplus has only a limited value to residents who have needs and lives beyond the influence of either state budgets or state transportation projects. A surplus for the sake of a surplus isn’t productive.

It’s closer to kleptomania.

See also Wisconsin Policy Forum, A High Water Mark for State Budget?


Post by @undeadben
View on Threads

Daily Bread for 3.22.24: Less State Office Space Means More (in Taxpayer Savings)

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be snowy with a high of 37. Sunrise is 6:51 and sunset 7:10 for 12h 19m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 93.4 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1765, the British Parliament passes the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies.

Sarah Lehr reports State agencies could offload even more office space, remote work audit finds (‘State administrators say they’re tightening up policies for tracking remote work’): 

Wisconsin state agencies could consider offloading even more office space than previously planned, according to an audit presented to state lawmakers this week.

Three years ago, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration released a Vision 2030 plan, which laid out a roadmap for the state workforce in the coming decade. Because of the continued popularity of remote work, it called for consolidating state office space and for selling multiple state buildings in the coming years.

In all, state officials say Wisconsin could save $9 billion in occupancy costs plus more than a half a billion dollars in deferred maintenance expensive by cutting down on office space, according to an update to the plan released last spring.

There’s a hard-nosed (but short-sighted) attitude that says state office workers should sit all day at their office desks. As it turns out, those state office desks are in state office buildings, and state office buildings do not pay for themselves. If workers who do not interact directly with the public can do their work remotely, then the rest of Wisconsin should not be paying for office buildings for those very workers. 

It shows a lack of foresight to say one is holding office workers accountable for their in-person attendance when that in-person attendance does not account for wasted money on state buildings.

The State of Wisconsin can and should sell office buildings that have become relics of a last-century service model. 

‘Paddington’ bears spotted in Bolivian forest raise hopes for species’ survival:

Daily Bread for 3.6.24: Gov. Evers Signs Child Care Tax Credit Lift to Federal Level

 Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 52. Sunrise is 6:19 and sunset 5:51 for 11h 32m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 20 percent of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1820, the Missouri Compromise is signed into law by President James Monroe. The compromise allows Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, brings Maine into the Union as a free state, and makes the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory slavery-free.

Erik Gunn reports Evers signs child care tax credit hike, urges more action on child care support:

Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation increasing Wisconsin’s child and dependent care tax credit Monday and at the same time renewed his call for broader state support for child care providers.

“We need a long-term solution to our state’s looming child care crisis—including direct support for providers through Child Care Counts—and I will work with anyone from either side of the aisle who’s ready to work together to get this done,” Evers said.

The governor signed the legislation — AB-1023 — in a ceremony at a Waukesha child care center, La Casa de Esperanza.

The bill raises the state income tax credit for a family’s child and dependent care expenses to 100% of the federal tax credit from the current 50%. It also raises the maximum amount of expenses that can be counted to calculate the credit.

The child care tax credit is the only measure of four Republican-authored tax cut bills introduced in January that won broad support from Democratic lawmakers and the only one the Democratic governor signed. On Friday Evers vetoed the other three bills — changing the state’s second-lowest tax bracket, exempting the first $75,000 to $150,000 of retirement income, and nearly doubling the maximum tax credit for married couples.

More tax reductions are in order, but if one had to pick one of these bills only (although it wasn’t a choice of only one!), the child care credit hike was the best choice. 

Barred Owls LIVE! WBU Barred Owl Cam:

Daily Bread for 1.29.24: $3,250,000,000 is Still a Big Number

 Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 40. Sunrise is 7:11 and sunset 5:04 for 9h 52m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 86.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1936, the first inductees (Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson) into the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced

 Robert D’Andrea reports Wisconsin’s budget surplus is shrinking but still large:

Wisconsin’s budget surplus will be less than what was projected six months ago. 

The state is predicted to have a surplus of $3.25 billion by the end of the current budget cycle, according to a new estimate of the state’s general fund from the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. 

That’s nearly $800,000 less than what was projected when the current budget was signed last June. 

Three billion, two-hundred fifty million is still a big number…

French farmers overturn truck carrying red peppers:

Quick replies: (1) Don’t waste food, (2) don’t start fires, (3) don’t overturn trucks.

Daily Bread for 1.19.24: Wisconsin Assembly’s Queen of Crackpottery Comes Up Short (Yet Again)

 Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 11. Sunrise is 7:19 and sunset 4:51 for 9h 31m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 66.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1983, the Apple Lisa, the first commercial personal computer from Apple to have a graphical user interface and a computer mouse, is announced.

Credit where credit is due, including credit for recognizing that the attempts to impeach the Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe are baseless (where baseless properly excludes drunken delusions, chanting voices in one’s head, or congenital cognitive deficiency). Scott Bauer reports Wisconsin Republican leader derides GOP impeachment attempt targeting state’s top elections official:

In the Assembly, state Rep. Janel Brandtjen has introduced a resolution to impeach Wolfe. As of Thursday, it had just five co-sponsors in addition to Brandtjen. It would require 50 votes to pass.

Brandtjen tried in vain on Tuesday to be recognized to speak in an attempt to get a vote on her proposal. Brandtjen, who has endorsed discredited conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, accused Republican leaders of being “Administrator Wolfe’s PR team.”

During a news conference before Thursday’s session, Assembly Majority Leader Tyler August said Brandtjen’s proposal would not be voted on because it doesn’t have enough support to get out of committee or be approved by a majority of the Assembly.

“We have a process that has been utilized in this building for decades of how to bring a bill or a resolution to the floor,” August said. “And that’s the process that we’ll continue to use.”

August said if Brandtjen has enough support to bring the measure forward for a vote, she can.

“But the fact is she doesn’t,” August said. “Our caucus is focused on real things, not grifting and not making a big show for the cameras. And that’s all she’s interested in doing.”

Now, I’m not inclined to agree that the WISGOP is focused on real things, but it’s indisputable among non-lunatics that Brandtjen is focused on unreal things. A low bar, yes.

And yet, and yet, among the 5.8 million Wisconsinites, Brandtjen is not the state’s only crackpot, although she now seems to sit on the crackpottery throne. (Where Michael Gableman is these days I do not know, as Arkham Asylum is a fictional place. )  

By Mikel Janín / DC Comics – [1], Fair use,

Amish man, horses help pull SUV out of snow in Ethridge, Tennessee:

Daily Bread for 1.2.24: A List of Top State Government Stories in 2023

 Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of 33. Sunrise is 7:25 and sunset 4:32 for 9h 07m 15s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 64.1% of its visible disk illuminated. 

On this day in 1777, American forces under the command of George Washington repulse a British attack at the Battle of the Assunpink Creek near Trenton, New Jersey.

  Steven Walters has a list of the Top 10 State Government Stories of 2023. It’s a solid recounting of the biggest state issues of 2023. His Numbers 1 and 2 would appear on any list of major Wisconsin events: 

1. Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Protasiewicz not only won a 10-year term on the state Supreme Court, but she won by a landslide in the most expensive ($51 million by candidates and outside groups) judicial race in the nation’s history. Her win gave liberals their first majority on the seven-member court in 12 years.

2. In December, that new Supreme Court majority ruled that Assembly and Senate boundaries Republicans drew in 2021 were unconstitutional. The court gave all sides a Jan. 12 deadline to submit new district lines for November elections and named two experts to advise the justices on next steps. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the ruling would be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After his top ten, Walters mentions a few other big stories, and a post-Foxconn future is rightly among them:

Microsoft paid $50 million for 315 acres of Mount Pleasant land owned by Foxconn, officially retiring the 2018 promise by then-President Trump, ex-Gov. Scott Walker and ex-U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan that Foxconn’s investment in Racine County would create a high-tech, “eighth wonder of the world.” Microsoft says two data centers will be built.

FREE WHITEWATER has a category dedicated to the Foxconn debacle. 

In Whitewater (see A Sham News Story on Foxconn) and too many other places, support for the Wisconsin Foxconn project was (and should have been) a sign of dog-crap-quality policymaking. 

This Microbe May Someday Replace Your Steak:

“Someday,” however, is not today.

Daily Bread for 6.30.23: Wisconsin Budget Goes to Governor’s Desk

Good morning. Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 90. Sunrise is 5:20 AM and sunset 8:37 PM for 15h 17m 10s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 88.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Whitewater’s Independence Holiday events begin tonight at the Cravath Lakefront:  Christman Family Amusements Wristband…

Daily Bread for 6.25.23: Committee Sends Wisconsin Budget to Full Legislature

Good morning. Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 78. Sunrise is 5:17 AM and sunset 8:37 PM for 15h 19m 37s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 42.1% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1950, the Korean War begins when North Korea invades South…

Daily Bread for 6.19.23: Worse than Embarrassing for Robin Vos

Good morning. Monday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of 84. Sunrise is 5:16 AM and sunset 8:36 PM for 15h 20m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6:30 PM.  On this day in 1865, two years…

Daily Bread for 6.15.23: Wisconsin Bill for Local Aid Finally Heads to Governor

Good morning. Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 74. Sunrise is 5:15 AM and sunset 8:35 PM for 15h 19m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 7.4% of its visible disk illuminated. The Whitewater Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM.  On this day in 1846,…

Daily Bread for 5.31.23: Four Million Won’t Be Enough (Because Marketing’s Not It)

Good morning. Wednesday in Whitewater will see scattered afternoon showers with a high of 87. Sunrise is 5:19 AM and sunset 8:26 PM for 15h 07m 04s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 85.3% of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1955, the U.S. Supreme Court expands on its Brown…

Daily Bread for 5.19.23: Wait, So It’s WISGOP Assembly v. WISGOP Senate? Hard to Believe These Congenial & Cooperative Politicians Can’t Agree Among Themselves

Good morning. Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 65. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:15 PM for 14h 47m 52s of daytime. The moon is new with nearly none of its visible disk illuminated. On this day in 1780, New England’s Dark Day, an unusual darkening of the day…