2018 Press Releases

July 25, 2018

DOA Transit Capital Assistance Grants Available from Volkswagen Funds

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) is accepting applications for the Transit Capital Assistance Grant Program to fund the replacement of eligible public transit buses under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust.

Volkswagen admitted to violating the federal Clean Air Act by selling diesel engine vehicles that utilized software designed to cheat on federal emissions tests. Judicial settlements require Volkswagen to pay more than $2.9 billion into an Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund. The State of Wisconsin is a designated beneficiary and will receive $67.1 million over the next ten years to offset the excess pollution emitted by affected Volkswagen vehicles.

2017 Wisconsin Act 59 established the Transit Capital Assistance Grant Program to competitively award up to $32 million of Volkswagen Trust funds to replace eligible public transit vehicles. The grant program will fund the replacement and scrapping of 1992-2009 engine model year class 4-8 public transit buses with new replacement diesel or alternate fueled buses. The program gives preference to communities or routes that DOA determines are critical for connecting employees with employers.

A full announcement and application are available on the DOA website at https://doa.wi.gov/Pages/vwsettlementwisconsin.aspx. Written questions regarding the grant program must be submitted by August 3, 2018 and applications are due by September 28, 2018.

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July 25: DOA Transit Capital Assistance Grants Available from Volkswagen Funds

July 12: Wisconsin on Great Financial Footing to Win 21st Century

Guest Column: Wisconsin on Great Financial Footing to Win 21st Century

A Guest Column by Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Ellen Nowak.

With the state's employment at an historic high, unemployment at an historic low, and companies like technology manufacturing giant Foxconn and paper industry leader Green Bay Packaging choosing Wisconsin to locate or expand operations, Wisconsin is well on its way toward winning the 21st century.

Thanks to common-sense reforms, smart fiscal management and continuing economic growth, our state budget has entered a new fiscal year in an outstanding position.

Both property and income taxes are lower this year than they were in 2010, and we have ended every fiscal year since 2011 with a surplus, including a larger-than-expected surplus that allowed more than a half-million Wisconsin households to receive a $100 per-child sales tax rebate in recent weeks.  Looking ahead, the Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday will run from August 1 – 5, 2018, helping families save money when they buy school clothing, computers and supplies.  

In the current state budget, we eliminated the state property tax for the first time since 1931 and we continued to deliver income tax relief, all while managing our state's finances in a smart, effective and prudent fashion that also allowed us to make record investments into K-12 education. Working in partnership with the Wisconsin Legislature, the state has delivered thousands of dollars in income and property tax relief to typical Wisconsin families since the Governor took office. 

Today, our state's budget and financial outlook are strong. Consider the following:

  • Wisconsin is paying off more debt than it is taking on to the point where outstanding obligations are the lowest they have been in nearly a decade and dropping.

  • Good debt management and taking advantage of low interest rates has allowed taxpayers to realize $633.7 million of debt service savings since 2011.

  • Of the $137.5 million added to our current budget surplus in the last state general fund update, $77.8 million of that was debt service savings.

  • The state's revenues are higher than previously estimated, the state's rainy-day fund is at the highest level ever, and it is also estimated to exceed $300 million at the end of this fiscal year.

  • Wisconsin received bond rating upgrades from three national agencies over three months in 2017.

  • The state has had the lowest new bonding authorized in back-to-back budgets in at least two decades, and total debt obligations have declined in four of the past five years. The state's long-term outstanding obligations are some of the lowest in the country.

  • The state's pension system is fully funded and strong, creating long-term budget flexibility to make additional investments in our priorities.

Our good fiscal management has also allowed for the inclusion of more than $6 billion for transportation, including the largest increases for local governments to fix roads, repair bridges and fill potholes in at least two decades.

Reducing the tax burden, historic investments in education and roads, and good fiscal management have contributed to the historic positive results for Wisconsin.  The unemployment rate is at a record low, employment is at an all-time high and the state's per capita GDP growth rate ranked 11th highest in the nation from 2010-17.

The state's finances are in great shape, and we are ready to win the 21st century.


July 11: Foxconn: It’s Historic, It’s Happening & It’s Exciting 

Guest Column: Foxconn: It’s Historic, It’s Happening & It’s Exciting 

A Guest Column by Matt Moroney, Strategic Economic Initiatives Director, Wisconsin Department of Administration

As the state’s Director of Strategic Economic Initiatives, I am honored to have the opportunity to help Wisconsin maximize the tremendous opportunities that Foxconn’s $10 billion investment will bring to every corner of the state.

As the father of two school-age kids, I believe strongly that these opportunities will result in a stronger and more prosperous state not just for them, but for their peers and an entire generation of future workers who have new reasons to stay, develop their talents and build their adult lives right here in Wisconsin.

Make no mistake: Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin is historic, it’s happening, and it’s exciting.

Foxconn’s investment in Wisconsin is historic.

With 13,000 jobs and a capital investment of $10 billion, this is by far the largest economic development project that our state has ever seen. In addition to the 13,000 Foxconn jobs, construction of the facility alone will support tens of thousands of direct and indirect construction jobs over the next four years across the state.

Wisconsin won Foxconn in large part due to the state’s strong manufacturing legacy, talented workforce, strong business climate, and world-class educational institutions that are stepping up to equip our workforce with the skills needed to build careers in the technology of the future – right here in Wisconsin! Additionally, Foxconn will draw talent from across the nation and globe, making Wisconsin a “brain gain” state that keeps more of our own graduates and attracts other millennials to opportunities here.

Construction is happening.

Less than one year after the first meeting between Chairman Terry Gou and Governor Scott Walker, site excavation work began. That’s more than seven months ahead of Foxconn’s anticipated construction start date. So far, around 500,000 cubic yards of earth have already been moved from the site and soon 1,000 loads of aggregate per day will be hauled in. Companies from Black River Falls, Brownsville, Racine, Marathon and more are benefitting from this work.

The June 28 groundbreaking ceremony kicked off the construction of the first building: a 120,000 square-foot multipurpose building that is being developed by companies in Appleton, Butler, Schofield and several other communities throughout Wisconsin.

In fact, 35 of the first 36 project contracts for the project have been awarded to Wisconsin companies, covering workers in 60 of the state’s 72 counties. This is because Foxconn is actively pursuing a “Wisconsin First” commitment in its construction practices.

Foxconn’s impact is exciting.

Foxconn is bringing the future of manufacturing and innovative advanced technology to the U.S. and Wisconsin will be the leader. Our state will not only lead in manufacturing 4.0, but it will also become a leader in research and development for these advanced technologies.

What is particularly exciting is Foxconn’s recent announcement of the Wisconn Valley Innovation Centers in downtown Milwaukee and Green Bay, which will be collaborative workspaces for startup companies and entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions and applications for the AI 8K+5G ecosystem that Foxconn is creating.

Foxconn’s ripple impact to existing Wisconsin companies will also be historic. It is estimated that Foxconn will spend approximately $1.4 billion in Wisconsin supplier purchases annually. To put that into perspective, Oshkosh Corp made nearly $300 million in purchases from more than 700 Wisconsin-based companies in 140 communities throughout Wisconsin. Foxconn’s impact will be four times that. Wow!

This historic investment in the future of Wisconsin is one that the whole state can be proud of. Foxconn chose to invest in Wisconsin, and the positive impact will reach every corner of our great state for generations to come.


June 20: Lt. Governor Joins Local Partners to Highlight $500,000 in Homeless Case Management Services Grants

Lt. Governor Joins Local Partners to Highlight $500,000 in Homeless Case Management Services Grants 

MADISON – Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch today joined partners in Milwaukee and Racine to highlight $500,000 in Homeless Case Management Services Grants that have been awarded to 10 organizations across Wisconsin.

"Today is a great day not just for the organizations that are on the front lines of efforts to end and prevent homelessness in our communities, but for the additional families who can now be provided with the supports they need to achieve financial stability and brighter futures for themselves, their children and, ultimately, future generations," Lt. Governor Kleefisch said. "Together, we will continue working hard to reduce the number of individuals who are homeless in Wisconsin, as one family without housing, employment and financial stability is one too many."

Lt. Governor Kleefisch recognized partners at events hosted by two organizations that each received $50,000 in grant funding: Community Advocates in Milwaukee, and HALO Inc. in Racine. Representatives from the Salvation Army of Milwaukee and Family Promise of Washington County (West Bend), both of whom are grant recipients, were also recognized at the Milwaukee event.

Under the grant program, which was authorized in the state 2017-19 budget, 10 agencies across the state were each awarded $50,000 to provide intensive case management services to homeless families.

The services focus on providing financial management, employment, ensuring school continuation for children, and enrolling unemployed or underemployed parents in W-2 or the Foodshare employment and training program. The grant is administered through Wisconsin Department of Administration, Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources (DEHCR).

"Community Advocates is truly grateful to be a recipient of the Homeless Case Management Services Grant program," said Andi Elliott, CEO of Community Advocates. "This grant will support our work with families as they move from homelessness to housing and economic stability."

"The Homeless Case Management Services Grant program will permit us to strengthen our ability to provide a more intensive level of case management and access to resources for our families at HALO," said Gai Lorenzen, Executive Director of HALO Inc. "We are very thankful to be selected for the grant, and the opportunities it will provide to help families experiencing homelessness become self-sufficient and maintain stable housing."

Under the competitive grant program, DEHCR will award up to 10 grants per year, with each one totaling up to $50,000.

Organizations from Appleton, Green Bay, Madison, Manitowoc, New Richmond and Portage also received the $50,000 grants. The full list of 2018 award recipients is available online.

For more information about the program and eligibility criteria is available at DOA's website

April 25: State of Wisconsin Receives “A” Grade for Transparent Government

State of Wisconsin Receives “A” Grade for Transparent Government

MADISON – The State of Wisconsin received an “A” grade by the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) Education Fund for providing online access to government spending data.  U.S. PIRG issued their Following the Money 2018 report today which evaluates how all 50 states rank for openness and transparency related to government spending.  Wisconsin improved from No. 6 to No. 3 in the rankings from 2016 to 2018 in U.S. PIRG’s report.

“Transparency and efficient use of taxpayer dollars is a top priority for Governor Walker’s Administration,” said Department of Administration Secretary Ellen Nowak.  “We are pleased to receive recognition for our efforts and will continue to be good stewards of our resources.”

Created in 2014, Wisconsin’s primary online resource, OpenBook.wi.gov, provides citizens with access to state expenditures, including payments for goods and services and travel and vendor expenses, among other data.  OpenBook.wi.gov provides more than 25 million entries for state agencies, the legislature, the courts, and the University of Wisconsin System dating back to 2008.  As of 2017, the site was updated to include fringe payment data, employee salary, purchase orders and contracts that the state agencies have with vendors.

The full report can be found here.

State of Wisconsin Receives "A" Grade for Transparent Government

March 20: Secretary Nowak Discusses Governor Walker's $100 Million School Safety Plan Before Assembly Committee on Education

Secretary Nowak Discusses Governor Walker's $100 Million School Safety Plan Before Assembly Committee on Education


MADISON - Department of Administration Secretary Ellen Nowak and Deputy Secretary Cate Zeuske appeared before the Assembly Committee on Education today to testify on Governor Walker’s $100 million School Safety Plan.

“No student, teacher, parent, or school employee should feel unsafe at school,” Secretary Nowak said.  “Governor Walker proposed legislation to provide the tools and resources necessary to improve school safety around the state, regardless of the school’s size, budget, or location.”

A copy of the testimony can be found here.

February 14: State of Wisconsin to Purchase Tommy G. Thompson Commerce Center

State of Wisconsin to Purchase Tommy G. Thompson Commerce Center


MADISON – The State of Wisconsin is continuing its effort to lower the number of private leases and reduce operational costs by exercising an option to purchase the Tommy G. Thompson Commerce Center located at 201 W. Washington Avenue in Madison.  The building is currently owned by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), an independent state authority. 

"Over the remaining life of the building, the purchase will save Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $85 million in operational costs," Secretary Scott Neitzel said.  "The purchase of the Tommy G. Thompson Center advances our long-term strategy to lower the overall cost of housing state agencies."

The 153,000 square-foot building, built in 1997, is currently 70 percent occupied by several state agencies, including the Departments of Tourism, Veteran's Affairs, and Financial Institutions, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.  The remaining 30 percent of the building is occupied by WHEDA. 

The building will be owned by the state and managed by the Department of Administration Division of Facilities Development and Management.  The approximately $29 million purchase is expected to save Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $85 million over the remaining life of the building.  The purchase is funded through existing bonding and was approved by the State Building Commission.

The closing is anticipated to occur in early March.


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State of Wisconsin to Purchase Tommy G. Thompson Commerce Center.pdf