2018 Press Releases

October 15, 2018

State Ends Fiscal Year with $558.5 Million Balance, Grows Rainy Day Fund to Record-High $320.1 Million

MADISON - Wisconsin ended the most recent state fiscal year with a positive balance of $588.5 million and grew the state Budget Stabilization Fund to a record-high $320.1 million, according to the new Annual Fiscal Report released today by the state Department of Administration (DOA).

"The tough, prudent financial decisions and common-sense reforms that have supported job creation and led to record-low unemployment in Wisconsin, have also contributed to our state's budget ending the most recent fiscal year in excellent shape," DOA Secretary Ellen Nowak said. "The balance is over $41 million higher than was recently estimated, and this is in part due to higher-than-expected state revenues, which is great news as we look ahead to the next budget cycle."

Highlights from the state's Fiscal Year 2018 Annual Fiscal Report include:

  • The undesignated general fund balance at the close of fiscal 2018 (June 30, 2018) was $588.5 million, slightly higher than the previous fiscal year's balance of $579 million.  The balance is $41.2 million more than was estimated when the 2017-19 legislative session ended.

  • The state deposited $33.1 million into the state Budget Stabilization Fund.  The balance is now $320.1 million.  This is the largest balance in state history and 190 times larger than the balance in fiscal year 2010. 

  • General fund tax collections were $18.4 million above estimates.  The growth was $626 million or 4 percent over last year.  Individual income taxes were $99.2 million higher than estimated.

  • State expenditures were $174 million less than budgeted in 2018.

  • Individual tax relief jumped 34.2 percent from the prior fiscal year in part due to the Child Sales Tax Rebate which totaled $93.6 million in fiscal year 2018. 

The full report is available online.

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October 15: State Ends Fiscal Year with $558.5 Million Balance, Grows Rainy Day Fund to Record-High $320.1 Million



October 2: Wisconsin Maintains High Score in Center for Digital Government's 2018 Digital States Survey

MADISON – Wisconsin maintained its high score of A- in the newest Center for Digital Government survey of the 50 states' use of digital technologies to improve service delivery, increase capacity, and reach policy goals, the center announced today.

Wisconsin's grade in the biennial survey is unchanged from 2016 and up from a B in 2014. The state's grade was a C+ in 2010.

States in the A range "show results across all survey categories.  Modernization is used to realize operational efficiencies and strategic priorities.  There is evidence of meaningful collaboration, and performance measures and metrics are widely adopted."

"The 2018 Digital States Survey validates our ongoing efforts to leverage digital technology to make state government more effective, efficient and accountable to the taxpayer," Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Ellen Nowak said. "From stewardship over modern enterprise IT resources to the successful deployment of STAR financial, human resource and other functions across state government, we will continue to pursue solutions that position Wisconsin to win the 21st century."

"We also thank the work of IT professionals across state government who work proactively and collaboratively to advance our state's IT systems, and whose work is also reflected in our high score," Secretary Nowak continued.

Wisconsin was one of only 13 states that achieved an overall grade of A or A- in the 2018 survey.

A national overview of all 50 states and their grades is available at www.centerdigitalgov.com.

The Center for Digital Government is a California-based national research and advisory institute on information technology policies and best practices in state and local government. Through its diverse and dynamic programs and services, the Center provides public and private sector leaders with decision support, knowledge, and opportunities to help them effectively incorporate new technologies in the 21st century.

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October 2: Wisconsin Maintains High Score in Center for Digital Government's 2018 Digital States Survey

September 28: Governor Walker Announces $1 Million in CDBG Funding for Severe Weather Recovery in Crawford & Vernon Counties

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker announced today that Crawford and Vernon counties in southwest Wisconsin will each receive an additional $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant-Emergency Assistance Program (CDBG-EAP) funding to assist low-income households affected by recent severe storms and flash flooding. The funds are part of up to $8 million that DOA has in available CDBG-EAP funding to help counties in their recovery efforts.

"This critical funding will help eligible residents recover from the damaging late summer storms and flooding by offering financial assistance to rehabilitate or, in some cases, to replace the homes they lost or to relocate," Governor Walker said. "This is part of the millions in funding that my Administration has made available to support affected residents and businesses as they rebuild."

The CDBG-EAP program is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration's Division of Energy, Housing & Community Resources (DOA/DEHCR). Occupants of housing units receiving assistance under the grant must have incomes at 80 percent or below the median income limits that the federal government defines for each county. The funds can also be used for certain public facility and infrastructure repairs, with a 25 percent match by the county.

DOA has previously awarded CDBG-EAP funds to both counties to recover from previous weather disasters. With today's announcements, Vernon County has been awarded $2.3 million from the program since December 2016, and Crawford County has been awarded over $1 million since January 2017. DOA is working with other counties that may apply for additional CDBG-EAP funds.

The CDBG-EAP grant program is one of numerous programs and initiatives launched by agencies in Governor Walker's Cabinet, which has been coordinating with local governments, emergency managers a variety of other organizations and volunteers to make resources available to those affected since flooding and storms hit the state in August.

On September 14, Governor Walker announced two programs totaling $4 million to help Wisconsin homeowners and businesses impacted by the flooding:

  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) launched its $2 million Flood Relief Loan program to provide no-interest loans of up to $10,000 for repairing homes damaged by flooding.

  • The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), in conjunction with its regional partners, also launched a $2 million Disaster Recovery Microloan Program aimed at small businesses that will provide an immediate source of funds for necessary restoration work and related expenses.

The following information includes several updates on activities by a variety of state agencies, as well as available resources:

The Department of Administration (DOA) has funding available through CDBG-EAP to assist eligible, low to moderate income homeowners in other areas for housing rehabilitation, business assistance, and repair local public infrastructure. Local communities should continue working with DOA/DEHCR to apply. Please visit their website or call (608) 266-7531. The DOA also reminds local governments that they may use state contracts to purchase goods and services as they recover from flooding and storm damage. A complete list of contracts available to municipal governments can be found on the State's procurement website, VendorNet.  Questions related to state contracts can be directed to Jim Langdon, Administrator of Enterprise Operations at james.langdon@wisconsin.gov or (608) 264-6109.

The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will connect affected farmers for assistance and counseling through its Farm Center.  The connection can be made by dialing (800) 942-2474. DATCP has a list of flood-related resources for food safety, home repairs, manure issues, flooded farmland, and animal planning. Food businesses suffering flood damage and needing assistance in determining whether the food can be salvaged should contact James Beix of the Division of Food and Recreational Safety at (608) 224-4665 or James.Beix@wisconsin.gov.  Major storms bring transient home improvement workers and scams to Wisconsin communities.  Contact the Bureau of Consumer Protection at (800) 422-7128 or datcphotline@wisconsin.gov to check on complaints against particular contractors. Farmers should contact their local FSA Office to report damaged crops. FSA will also direct farmers to 211 and or the Local/County Emergency Management (EM) Office to report losses not tracked by the FSA.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) offers Emergency Assistance payments to eligible low-income parents who have at least one child in the house and are facing an emergency due to natural disasters, homelessness or impending homelessness, and energy crisis. This one-time payment is available every 12 months and can used to pay for a security deposit on a new apartment, stop an eviction on a current apartment, or to pay a utility bill. To learn more about the program, including eligibility and where to apply, visit https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/ea.

The Department of Health Services (DHS) notes that current FoodShare members affected by flooding may request replacement FoodShare benefits, if they had food lost or damaged due to the recent flooding. FoodShare members are eligible for replacement of benefits in the amount of the food lost, but not more than their monthly allotment.   Those living in Dane, Green, Iowa, and Rock Counties have an extended deadline of up until September 19, 2018 to request replacement of FoodShare benefits. FoodShare members affected by flooding in Adams, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Ozaukee, Sauk, Vernon, and Washington Counties have an extended deadline of up until October 1, 2018, to request replacement FoodShare benefits.  FoodShare members in other counties may also be eligible for replacement benefits, but must request replacement benefits within 10 days of the date they lost their food.  To request replacement benefits, members should fill out this form and submit it to their local income maintenance agency.  DHS will continue to monitor the ongoing weather and request appropriate waivers to ensure FoodShare members affected by the ongoing flood situation have enough time to seek replacement benefits. 

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff have been on site in various capacities all along the flood impacted area. Conservation Wardens assisted in early rescues and evacuations from flooded homes and businesses. They also assisted local law enforcement officers when called upon with such things as traffic flow, accessing flood areas by boat and other public safety issues. DNR parks crews worked around the clock to repair any damage and clean-up debris at parks and trails impacted by the storms. That work continues as some properties remain closed or partially closed. A list of affected state properties can be found at https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/conditions/. Floodplain engineers, dam safety engineers, and the DNR wastewater team monitored dams in the region and wastewater facilities that were threatened by the initial flooding.  Information that can help you keep your family safe in a flooding emergency and minimize damage to your property can be found at: https://dnr.wi.gov/emergency/FloodCoping.html.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is rebuilding bridges and highways as recovery efforts continue from the historic rain and flooding in Southern and Central Wisconsin. A number of contracts have been executed to rebuild and repair damaged infrastructure such as the two US 14 bridges in Black Earth with an expected completion in November. The department is also developing and negotiating contracts to rebuild and repair damaged infrastructure. Department engineering staff have been making on-site evaluations as flood waters recede and continue to work as needed in the field to assess damages. Additionally, the department continues to partner with county highway departments to make necessary repairs. Public safety remains core to WisDOT's recovery efforts and the department is continuing to evaluate detours and post timely information to 511wi.gov.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) can provide unemployment benefits to working Wisconsinites whose employer either temporarily or permanently closed due to flooding. Those impacted can file online at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) participated in WEDC's Post-Disaster Business Resource Partner Meeting in Viroqua. OCI also released statements regarding the recent severe storms and widespread flooding in Wisconsin, and included information on flood insurance and important tips in dealing with storm aftermath. For a specific complaint about your insurance, refer it first to the insurance company or agent involved. If you do not receive satisfactory answers, you may contact OCI with questions at (800) 236-8517, ocicomplaints@wisconsin.gov, or visit oci.wi.gov.  If you need to file a complaint, you may file on OCI's online complaint portal. For information regarding the National Flood Insurance Program, visit www.floodsmart.gov.  

The Public Service Commission (PSC), along with local utilities, are monitoring power outages across the state. As flooding conditions continue in Wisconsin, the PSC reminds citizens to avoid downed power lines and to be cautious in flooding conditions. If you have any questions or concerns about the power supply at your home or business, please contact your local utility. If you still have questions or concerns after speaking with your local utility, you may contact our consumer affairs division by calling 1-800-225-7729. 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has developed an Economic Disaster Recovery Guidebook for civic and business leaders, local government officials and business support groups that provides numerous resources and tools that will enable local leaders to develop an economic recovery strategy for their own communities. The manual connects disaster management functions with economic principles to identify key issues and suggested actions before and after disaster. The guidebook can be downloaded here.

Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) continues to coordinate state resources for recovery efforts.   Representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Small Business Administration, Wisconsin Emergency Management and other state and local agencies are conducting Preliminary Damage Assessments (PDA) this week.   The PDA is the first step in seeking federal disaster assistance for flooding and tornadoes that occurred August 17 – September 14.   The eight teams are assessing damage to homes, businesses and public infrastructure damaged by the floods and tornadoes.   The information gathered will be provided to Governor Walker for his request to President Trump for a federal disaster declaration. Homeowners and businesses impacted by the floods and storms should continue with cleanup and repairs and keep all records and receipts. For more information on state emergency management efforts please visit http://readywisconsin.wi.gov/flooding/AUG2018.asp

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) has authorized $10,000 in grant funds through its Natural Disaster Program to help victims of the recent flooding in Sauk, Juneau, Adams, Dodge and Columbia counties. The grant monies will provide emergency housing assistance to residents who lost their home due to the damaging floods. WHEDA's Natural Disaster Grants are used to assist with short-term, emergency housing needs, and are disbursed through a local agent, in this instance the Central Wisconsin Community Action Council, Inc. (CWCAC). Displaced citizens can reach CWCAC at (608) 254-8353.

Additionally, WHEDA's new $2 million Flood Relief Loan program will provide no-interest loans of up to $10,000 to help repair homes damaged by flooding. Although periodic payments are not required, repayment would be due upon the sale of the home during the first 10 years. The loan will be forgiven if not repaid within 10 years. The new loan program will help fill any financial gap, after all insurance proceeds and available federal aid have been used, to repair damaged homes. 

Loan eligibility requirements include:

  • For residential structures of four units or less, where at least one of the units is owner-occupied and serves as the principal residence of the owner;

  • The borrower must be the owner and have a family income that does not exceed 120 percent of county median income;

  • The borrower will be required to utilize all available insurance proceeds as well as pursue and accept all available federal aid prior to utilizing WHEDA loan proceeds; and

  • The borrower will be required to document the use of WHEDA loan proceeds for eligible uses

Homeowners interested a WHEDA Flood Relief Loan can call 1-800-562-5546.

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September 28: Governor Walker Announces $1 Million in CDBG Funding for Severe Weather Recovery in Crawford & Vernon Counties

September 28: Governor Walker Announces $7.5 Million Available in Grants for TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker today announced the availability of $7.5 million for Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) Information Technology Infrastructure grants. The Department of Administration (DOA) is now accepting applications from eligible school districts and public libraries. The Information Technology Infrastructure grants assist entities in acquiring the equipment and services necessary to build a modern infrastructure system.

"TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure grants deliver critical resources to rural school districts and libraries as they build their capacity to help students and library patrons learn and succeed," Governor Walker said. "As our biennial budget includes historic levels of K-12 education aid, we also encourage eligible districts and libraries to apply for TEACH grants to strengthen and modernize their infrastructure.

Fiscal year 2019 grants are available to rural school districts that have 16 or fewer students per square mile. Available funding is determined by the number of students within the district. A list of eligible school districts and the maximum funding available can be found on the TEACH website. Listed districts are eligible for grants between $30,000 and $60,000.

In March 2018, Governor Walker signed Act 142 into law enabling libraries to apply for grant funding in educating librarians in the use of technology to enhance the services they provide to patrons. Eligibility is determined by and available to a public library or library branch that is located in a municipality with a population of 20,000 or less and meets specified criteria in relation to the library's distance from urban areas.

The funding is part of $22.5 million in total Information Technology Infrastructure grants for TEACH that was included in the 2017-19 biennial budget. The grants can be used for infrastructure equipment and services such as access points, antennas, maintenance of internal connections, cabling, caching equipment and services, LAN controllers, routers, switches, UPS/battery backup, and wireless controllers.

Eligible school districts and public libraries can find application materials for the TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure grants online at the TEACH website. Grant applications must be submitted to DOA by Friday, November 2. Late applications will not be considered.

For more information about the grant requirements or application process, please visit the TEACH website.

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September 28: Governor Walker Announces $7.5 Million Available in Grants for TEACH Information Technology Infrastructure

September 4: Governor Walker Announces $1.5 Million in TEACH Grants Awarded for Educational Technology Training

OCONTO FALLS – Governor Scott Walker today announced $1.5 million in Technology for Educational Achievement (TEACH) grant awards have been awarded to help 196 rural school districts and 172 rural public libraries to strengthen the information technology knowledge and capacity of educators.

"We are investing more actual dollars into public classrooms than ever before, and TEACH training grant awards provide opportunities for teachers and librarians across the state to acquire information technology knowledge that will help them be even more effective as professionals," said Governor Walker. "Expanding technological tools and capacity for educators will strengthen learning experiences for students as they develop the educational and career skills they need to win the 21st century."

Governor Walker highlighted the TEACH program during a tour at Oconto Falls High School, whose district received $9,152 as part of a 10-district consortium that received $56,725 in TEACH Educational Technology Training grant funding.

Since 2016, 786 training grants to rural schools and 172 grants to public libraries totaling nearly $6 million ($5,995,785) have been awarded. Each year of grants has allowed district teachers and now librarians to attend, arrange, and provide training activities to build the information technology knowledge and capacity of teachers.

TEACH educational technology training grants for state fiscal year 2019 totaling $1,499,854 have been awarded to 23 consortia comprised of 196 rural school districts and nine consortia comprised of 172 rural public libraries.

The grants provide support for participating school districts and libraries to attend, arrange, and administer educator training activities that help expand digital learning and usage. Eligible applicants include consortia of three or more eligible rural school districts for the purpose of training teachers on the use of educational technology. Grants are available for districts that have fewer than 13 students per square mile.

Fiscal year 2019 is the first year with expanded eligibility for TEACH to include rural public libraries. Each public library must be located in a rural territory as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and the population of the municipality within which the library or branch of the library is located is 20,000 or less. The expanded eligibility was made possible through 2017 Wisconsin Act 142.

In fiscal year 2019, average funding per school district consortium grew to $61,601 from $55,541 the previous year. Rural library consortiums will receive an average of $9,227 per consortium.

The training grants are one of three grant programs in TEACH Wisconsin, which was designed to advance education into the 21st Century through investment in educational technologies in Wisconsin through schools, cooperative educational service agencies (CESAs), and libraries The program, administered in collaboration with the state Department of Public Instruction, seeks to enable eligible institutions to take advantage of gains in technology and communications, to improve teaching and learning, and to provide students with the skills necessary to live and work in a complex world.  TEACH Wisconsin also awards grants for infrastructure and curriculum development.

A list of 2019 TEACH Educational Technology Training Grant Awards is available online.

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September 4: Governor Walker Announces $1.5 Million in TEACH Grants Awarded for Educational Technology Training

August 28: Wisconsin Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Receives Top Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting

MADISON –The Wisconsin Department of Administration's (DOA) Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for the fiscal year ended 2017 has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA).

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

"Thanks to common-sense reforms, smart fiscal management and continuing economic growth, our state budget completed fiscal 2017 in a strong financial position, and we are pleased that our commitment to accountability and transparency has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association," DOA Secretary Ellen Nowak said. "Moving forward, we will continue advancing accountable government that works for the taxpayers by ensuring excellence in financial reporting."

The CAFR has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

The GFOA serves the needs of almost 19,000 appointed and elected local, state and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners.

A copy of the CAFR for the fiscal year ended 2017 can be found online.

Connect with DOA On Twitter: @WisconsinDOA.

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August 28: Wisconsin Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Receives Top Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting

August 24: Wisconsin Garden Club Federation Works with State, Other Partners to Mark Gold Star Memorial Garden at Capitol

MADISON - Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Ellen Nowak joined Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Daniel J. Zimmerman and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, for the formal dedication this week of a new memorial marker to identify the state Capitol’s Gold Star Memorial Garden.

“The Gold Star Memorial Garden on the Capitol grounds has served for decades as a reminder of military families who have lost relatives in combat, and this marker will build further awareness of the garden’s significance,” Secretary Nowak said. “On behalf of Governor Walker and the State of Wisconsin, we appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped make this marker a reality, and we honor all Gold Star families and the men and women who have protected our nation by serving in the United States Armed Services.”

The gold star of flowers in the North Hamilton section of the Capitol grounds near Wisconsin Avenue dates to World War I. The Wisconsin Garden Club Federation’s Blue Star and Gold Star Families Memorial Markers Committee, which is co-chaired by Linda and Chuck McCafferty of Sun Prairie, garnered approval last year by the State Capitol and Executive Residence Board (SCERB) to install a memorial marker in front of the garden.

A dedication ceremony on Wednesday, August 22, drew dozens of Gold Star families, project supporters and others to the Capitol grounds, including Patti Smith, the President and Founder of America’s Gold Star Families, who spoke during the ceremony. Secretary Nowak also presented a Commendation from the Governor to organizations that worked on the project.

“The families of our fallen comrades have made a great sacrifice for this country,” Secretary Zimmerman said. “This tribute is one small token of our appreciation. With this new marker, we now have a reminder to all who pass by that freedom isn’t free.”

"It was truly humbling to be present at the dedication of the Gold Star memorial marker at our state capitol," Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin's adjutant general, said. "It is our Gold Star families who bear the pain and must daily carry the scar of loss. We are united as a people and as a country, cognizant that we owe so much to the warrior and the Gold Star family. Those who died in the service of our nation and their families who carry on their memory were patriots and heroes worthy of our deepest respect and admiration."

The Wisconsin Garden Club Federation is an affiliate of National Garden Clubs, Inc., which takes part in several projects including placement of Blue Star and Gold Star Families Memorial Markers throughout the country. Gold Star Families have lost loved ones in military service.

Connect with DOA On Twitter: @WisconsinDOA.

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August 24: Wisconsin Garden Club Federation Works with State, Other Partners to Mark Gold Star Memorial Garden at Capitol

July 25: 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.

Connect with DOA On Twitter: @WisconsinDOA.

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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.

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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.

 
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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

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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.
 
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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