Scott Milfred and Jessica Arp Weigh In on Governor Evers Budget Proposal

Credit: WISC
Published on March 3, 2019 -

Scott Milfred and Jessica Arp Weigh In on Governor Evers Budget Proposal

We're talking school funding, tax cuts, balancing the budget, marijuana laws, roads and transportation and much more.

A look at Governor Evers' budget proposal with Jessica Arp and Scott Milfred.

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Scott Milfred and Jessica Arp Weigh In on Governor Evers Budget Proposal

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>>> we now present for the record with hose neil heinen.

>>> the governor's budget, what to look for moving forward.

Thank you for joining us, i am neil heinen.

It was divided government in one of his purest forms. governor ebers promised on his platform, and what if anything is that on which the two sides can agree?

We will talk about the substance of the governors budget proposal, the prospects, and if time allows, we will briefly to the spring collection as i welcome to for the record neil heinen assistant news director and longtime political reporter jessica arp, and my colleague from the wisconsin state journal, editorial page editor scott milfred.

Hi.

>> hi.

>> nice to be here.

>> thank you for coming, you two.

So where do we start with this budget?

What is the most significant aspect of it?

>> well i mean, going into the budget itself there where a lot of things we knew.

There was a school budget funding about the superintendent of the medicaid expansion that he was proposing, a number of things that they sort of rolled out ahead of time.

The biggest question mark that was answered was on rhodes and his plan to fund $600 million to help find the transportation fund additionally, the major priorities in the state for fixing the state.

This eight cents a gallon gas tax increase been the biggest announcement but then, it was paired with a minimum law which i was actually just sort of speculating like, how do people even know what that is anymore?

It is a depression era law things to try to make sure certain retailers could not drive others out of business, so, governor evers is kind of putting that out as a way to mitigate the tax increase but when you talk to the retailers and look at the numbers, the question about how much i could actually mitigate, that eight cents a gallon increase, it is an open question.

>> and as obscure as minimum markup is, is always a contentious issue whenever you bring it up, very divisive on both sides.

>> yes.

You will see the petroleum marketers or anybody with the gas station say hey, we cannot compete with the costco and sam's club of the world who can a for the super marked down gas of this is not effective.

They could meet competition but even that makes it difficult so when you look at how the numbers stack up, again, it is kind of an obscure law but when you look at how the numbers stack up, they can even charge under what the minimum markup is supposed to be because of the competition piece of it.

So if it will say people at the pump, i don't know.

But we have been talking about a gas tax increase for so long, i think to find out what people think about it and deceive the public opinion on it over the coming months is really interesting.

>> what would you add to that is for what you saw?

>> the thing that struck me the most is this is not a lot about compromise but i think he decided maybe a month ago based on the statements by the speaker ross and fitzgerald that they would not take his budget and adjusted and send it back to him.

They were going to do their own budgets i think the governor e vers decided strategically that i will put down a document for them to compare to the republican document, so we kind of put in a wish list of democratic items. he said it was not a democratic budget but i think that it clearly is.

>> well, this is what got him elected, right?

These issues.

>> now he is able to say look, i tried and i put a lot of this in the budget and i fought for it.

It won't all get in.

A lot of it will get on.

>> are you going to argue that some should not get in, scott?

>> absolutely.

>> it is policy stuff, right?

Fiscal bureau, every budget, the nonpartisan agencies, they are not on one team or another but they come in and using a historic way of doing it, a neutral way of doing it, they look through the entire budget and say, this is nonphysical.

Maybe there is a tiny bit of spending, but predominantly, it is nonphysical.

So then there is a lot of pressure from people like our editorial board to take this policy out of the budget because it is not good policy.

The reason that people stick policy in the budget like medical marijuana or nonpartisan >> i was saying, we both have such a hard time with a.

>> i love it, and if the fiscal bureau does that it is fiscal, god bless them, let's keep it in.

But i think the reason that you want to take the policy out is, stuff gets in there that could not pass on its own, and i think in wisconsin, we want to have people to vote on things specifically if it is not fiscal policy.

>> but if you are spending money, sure, put it in the budget question is practically when you think of transportation in particular, and the public sentiment around fixing the roads, my to that not be an issue where the public gets to the republican legislature and says, we have to have some agreement here on how to fix the roads?

>> well i mean, governor evers is using that as an example.

Some of the market polling shows that people are willing to pay more for good schools and good roads.

And i think that there is the possibility where people don't want to see lanes of the interstate closed in the middle of the winter because the roads are falling apart.

They do want to see them fixed, but the combination of the gas tax increase as a minimum law but the nintendo increase on title fees, a new surcharge for the hybrid vehicle drivers, a happy truck fee, a combination platter of things that would bring revenue into the transportation phone.

Now i don't know if the gas tax is the thing that affects you most people but that is the thing that is like, eternally and emotionally, what people will have the most reaction to, so it will be interesting to see how the public outcry affects things.

We even talk how sometimes there is a provision that would give a drivers licensed to undocumented immigrants.

It is something like that that might be more likely to bring protester groups of people to the capital that may be in eight cents a gallon gas tax.

>> and hasn't the governor said he wants to spend more on local roads in the governor, isn't that correct?

>> so they do enumerate some new projects in the milwaukee area for this, the 9434 project in dane county will stay in.

>> how much did you say?

>> $600 million.

>> does that make a dent in our infrastructure needs?

>> well, you're also indexing it.

So though it is an eight cent tax, it will go up with inflation.

So yes i do think that so yes i do think that $6 million is a lot but there's more of an agreement on rhodes than they are letting in on.

They want to let out a way, tony evers, that is is gas tax that we have went along with it.

But the assembly has proposed an increase in the past.

Everybody knows these roads need more money.

There are a lot of potholes.

It would not be surprised if that is one of the areas where it is easier to come up for that agreement.

They might back off the agents.

>> and whole rows, that is something else of the legislation has talked about.

>> but you mentioned the drivers license issue.

There are some things in there that they will obviously not go for.

Ross was behind governor evers >>> i am back with news 3 now assistant news director, and scott milfred, the editorial editor of the wisconsin state journal.

We are dissecting governor evers' proposed budget and we will look at the republican response in a minute but is difficult is the minimum markup is, the school funding formula, no easier to explain.

And it is also a biennially included item in budgets, but it is really important and that is another thing that the governor can you help us understand it?

>> gosh, it is a hard thing to understand.

Most people understand it, especially if you get a property tax bill, that property taxes pay for schools in wisconsin.

The money goes in and is redistributed but of course the state has a portion of money that they pay as well.

The way that they are trying to restructure the formula is to try to account for things that create disparities in how schools are funded.

>> instead of just enrollment?

Dollar amount is attached to the student, accounting for a community where there might be more lower income people.

Property tax wise, it might be more difficult for the community to pay for schools in another way.

There are pieces like that, pieces like sort of redistributing where tax credits go, so if you get a property tax bill and you get the first dollar tax credit and the lottery tax credit, that will send the money into the school that instead of your property tax bill and hopefully, the school would pull your property tax amount down to account for the new money that you would get.

It is trying to rework this.

The key part of evers plan, there is a whole thing that had no school get less money than what they are getting now so nobody would be heard but that schools what only benefit in it which sort of shake out in the future.

It is a really hard thing for people to understand.

While we have seen different amounts of school funding proposed, i don't know that we have seen an actual full on overhaul of the formula and, gosh, years.

>> yeah.

>> i think that that is something that republicans have talked about having an appetite for.

They have created a special committee to look at the school funding formula to try to change things, so that could be in the area of an agreement, something they mentioned after the address it could be a place where they found common ground.

But it is so hard.

There's not many more important things to the legislators individual district in the success of their local schools.

>> local, local, local.

>> that's right.

Now governor evers was to put more money in schools for kids who are low income but a lot of republicans will read that is, that is more money for milwaukee and madison, not more money for my district, but in some cases, it might be.

>> yes.

>> a lot of time what they do in the fiscal bureau is they wait for the fiscal bureau to run their numbers, then they look and see >> where is my district?

>> and depending on that, they are for it or against it.

>> i think that the free and reduced lunch is in so many districts throughout the northern part of the state and even in the suburbs, the numbers are going up.

>> for republicans, this goes into evers' proposals, the increases that he puts in in the budget per-pupil do apply to any of the students on school vouchers, to opt out to go to a private school.

So that is good news for them.

But he does freeze the program and does not allow for further expansion which is something that they say is just not a good idea.

>> now if i am right, scott, the public sentiment for accepting federal medicaid money is greater than what the republican majority was suggest.

>> yes.

>> is that not to an area where public sentiment could play an important role here?

>> i think so.

You for the senate majority leader at least hedge a bit in the past about me being taking the money.

The tough thing for republicans is, it is associated with obamacare, and they are supposed to be against that.

If you take the money, maybe don't take the $300 million or something like that from the federal government for healthcare, if they don't take the money and they do their own budget, well, they have to come up with more money.

So that means maybe cutting some programs that are popular or raising taxes, and they don't want to do that so i do think that there will be a push on that.

Whether that can get through the senate or the assembly, i don't know.

>> what is the chance, scott, that some of these might not show up?

Is it a different form with different numbers for them to say, this is my proposal, but it could lead to some compromise?

This is an issue, homelessness, we have seen the republican initiatives that really address the homeless initiatives that have not been addressed before?

>> in fact, as i was watching the speech, governor evers said not only will i found all of the programs for homelessness that the commission that the republicans created and came up with, but i will cheer it and jim steinke the senate republican, he was applauding on that.

That is what they will agree on, helping more people who do not have secure places to stay at night, most of them are actually kids in school, little kids, the republicans are on that issue.

So moving forward, the big question to me on compromise is at what point they put out their budget, they put it through finance.

There is governor evers still sitting there with a very powerful veto in.

Will they cut deals and put things back in that the governor wants for some veto assurances, or did they just give them their budget and see what happens?

I have to think that they would be nervous about that because i could line so many things.

>> and i think, too, what we have seen when there has been divided government and the pastor at lisa budgets i have covered going back to 05407, you have a divided legislature even.

So at least in to thousand seven at least, you have the democrats in control of the state senate, so they had to come into agreement before they ever got this to the governor, so what scott is talking about is exactly right.

The document that they extend that is going to be complete, he is he going to like it or is he not?

So, they will have to find and make those compromises ahead of time.

And i have a feeling that there will be a lot of backroom and closed-door meetings to discuss the crisis may very well be dependent on whether redistricting becomes a reality.

But other members of the assembly in particular who are looking two years from now and might be concerned about their races, and it might put a little more pressure on leadership this time around than they would've otherwise?

>> yeah, and if you are in the assembly in particular you are looking ahead to two years and you might be thinking, is trump in trouble?

>> yes.

>> is this a wave election again of some sort for the left?

If so, i need to hedge against that, maybe i voted against it are released to cover some good things like nonpartisan redistricting.

We now do have a few republicans of the legislature that are warm to that.

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>>> we are talking about governor evers, proposed budget.

We are with jessica arp, the assistant news director for news 3 now and scott milfred, the editorial editor for the wisconsin state journal.

A couple of things that i thought would be worth mentioning, criminal justice reform.

There has been some momentum built up since election but the governor put some proposals in his budget that seemed like that might help further the conversation a little bit?

>> i think generally, there is an agreement on that.

In madison, the cope brothers, we think of them but they have really, i think, changed the republican party view on that.

They're all for criminal justice reform.

The federal government did appear donald trump did it but the place to do this that government because that is where it mostly happened so there is an appetite for that.

Robbin vols will tell you about criminals that have gotten back and he has hired as popcorn plays, he believes in that, too.

>> yes.

>> another point where i saw a robbin shaking his head on the t.v.

Behind tony evers was the decriminalization of marijuana.

That does not mean that they won't approve medical marijuana, i do think that that is possible.

>> he has had in prior news conferences that i have been at is that that is something that they are open to looking at, or at least that he was.

When you look at both caucuses, i think that there is some division in the republican caucuses on where these stand specifically on medical marijuana.

>> yet another issue where they is some disagreement with the popular opinion, the citizen issues come on that measure.

>> i do think that the expungement issue is something that we have seen.

>> raising the attorney pay, particularly, public defenders?

>> yes you saw a number of republican officials stand up and cheer with there was discussion of more district attorneys across the state, raising pay for attorneys, and i think between that and then the 17-year-olds being charged as juveniles instead of automatically taking them to adult court, there has been some bipartisan history in the past on those measures, that will be in the details on how close they can get to a real issue.

>> now, i was kind of surprised that the bipartisan issue not delaying the closing of lincoln hills.

It seems like everybody wants to get it right, that is why they are willing to delay it but i thought that there would be some urgency between lawmakers to get that done.

>> yes you saw some who are saying and definitely, the one-word answers were no from some of the republican leaders who were involved, so i do think that there is some disagreement about the future of the facility there.

>> and i do think that lincoln hills is just been a bad headline machine for everybody for two years or so, and it seems like everybody in the legislature regardless of what side they are on, they are trusting the professionals and saying yes, let's stick with this.

If we have to keep it over, fine, but let's take care of this problem and not see it on may be, lastly, you said that there was some surprised that there was not more of a natural resource component in the budget?

>> i do think that there was a lot of discussion of clean drinking water.

This is the year of clean drinking water.

The president has declared it.

There was some discussion of putting climate change scientist back, there was a controversy over that and the republican administration, there was money included in here sort of for the madison interested audience about the contaminants in the soil.

Using the fire suppression measures, pfas.

That is the ackerman that many know it by.

There is nothing super expansive, nothing changing and state parks or chronic wasting disease or anything related to deer management that we are aware of, so it's not a really far ranging >> 30 seconds, june 30 first is the deadline.

Do they make it?

>> that never make it.

[laughter] >> but i don't think that it will be is late as if it seems like great phone deals are always for new customers, think again.

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Because everyone can get 50% off all smartphones, >>> my things to jessica arp and scott milfred, and to you for joining us.

We will see you next week on for the record.

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