Wisconsin Legislative Update and State Revenue, Budget, and Election Insights

27 August 2020 Publication
Authors: Jason M. Childress Joseph K. Leibham
Like just about every other aspect of life over the past six months, the Wisconsin State Legislature has been impacted by COVID 19. The 2019/20 session was adjourned due to the virus and the unexpected quick end to the session left over 100 pieces of legislation that had been approved in the State Assembly stuck in the State Senate. To date, there are no plans to bring legislators back to the State Capitol until after the November elections and there is no certainty that any action will take place at that time.

One item that could force the legislature to return would be the impact of COVID on the state economy and on the 2019-21 state budget. State revenues for 2019-20 collected so far are $749 million behind what Wisconsin took in during the previous fiscal year, according to a new Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). LFB Director Bob Lang however noted that due to the tax filing deadline being pushed back to July 15, it will be late August before the agency has a clear picture on how the economic fallout from the virus has impacted the 2019-20 fiscal year.

Tight budgeting and record growth in the state’s rainy day fund during the terms of Governor Scott Walker should also help as the state works through the unexpected budget downturn. 

Read the memo from the LFB: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/misc/lfb/misc/209_june_2020_general_fund_tax_collections_7_9_20.pdf


Without a doubt, it will be an interesting election cycle in Wisconsin as the state is viewed by both the Republican and Democratic parties as critical in their Presidential pathways to victory. President Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by 23,000 votes which helped propel him to the Presidency. His win in Wisconsin was the first for a Republican since 1984 so it remains unclear where Wisconsin voters will land in 2020.

Interestingly, the state’s Election’s Board has rejected allowing the candidacy of Kanye West to appear on the Wisconsin ballot as his nomination papers were submitted at 5:00:40 p.m. and the deadline was 5:00 p.m.

Republicans currently control both houses of the State Legislature, 19-14 in the State Senate and 63-36 in the State Assembly. While it is highly believed that they will maintain power, Democrats are hoping to pick up seats as a result of the Presidential contest being on the ballot. All 99 Assembly seats and 16 of the 33 Senate seats are up for election and Republicans are suggesting they could come back with veto-proof majorities. Obviously this election cycle is critical at the state level as control of redistricting is at stake.

Please watch for future blog posts for a deep dive on Wisconsin‘s upcoming elections.


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