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News & Press: Legislative

December 2015 Legislative Update

Tuesday, December 8, 2015   (0 Comments)
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Legislative Session – The legislature wrapped up its last floor period of the year in November having acted on a number of significant measures including John Doe, Campaign Finance and GAB reform bills. They have scheduled a series of spring floor periods beginning January 12 which could run through April 7, however, the leadership has indicated a desire to finish the session by the end of February. Key WEDA issues likely to be considered this spring include restructuring WEDC and TIF reforms.

Transportation Bonding Approved – The state budget approved last June included an $800 million reduction in bonding for transportation over the Governors original proposal. The Legislature’s decision to cut the level of bonding was driven in large part by concerns over the increasing level of long-term debt service associated with bonding and the lack of a sustainable revenue stream for transportation. The legislature did, however, provided a mechanism for a bonding increase, if deemed necessary, which could be triggered by action of the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

As the impact of budget cuts on various major highway projects such as the zoo interchange and the widening of I 39/90 became clear, the Joint Finance Committee reconsidered the bonding issue. WEDA weighed in on the issue arguing that maintaining a robust transportation infrastructure is essential to the Wisconsin economy. Agriculture and manufacturing rely on the surface transportation system to reach domestic and international markets. Tourism depends on an efficient road network to safely connect visitors and seasonal residents to their respective destinations. Every major road project stimulates ancillary private investment and creates jobs.

In the end the Joint Finance Committee approved an additional $200 million in bonding for the current fiscal year and $150 for the second year of the biennium. While approval of this contingency bonding was important, a long-term funding solution for transportation must be found to keep Wisconsin’s economy moving forward. WEDA is committed to working with the Legislature and the administration on a sustainable transportation funding mechanism.

TIF Bills Advance – A top priority for WEDA this legislative session is the adoption of the TIF reform package recommended by the Legislative Council Committee on the Review of Tax Incremental Financing. This package of eight bills is aimed at encouraging development, streamlining administrative processes and increasing local flexibility. Seven of the bills passed the State Senate earlier this year. In October five of the Assembly companion bills received a public hearing in the Ways and Means Committee and were subsequently voted out of committee. They are currently available to be scheduled for a floor vote when the Legislature reconvenes in January.  The committee vote included:

AB 131 - Technical Changes:  Makes several technical changes including:

  • Modifying the industrial zoning requirements to only apply to industrial use tax increment districts.

  • Changing the maximum review period the joint review board has to approve a resolution on a TID from 30 to 45 days.

  • Amending the notice requirements of the planning commission from a class 2 notice to a class 1 notice when it comes to announcing a notice of amendment.

AB 132 – Joint Review Board and Annual Reporting:  Creates a standing Joint Review Board, modifies annual reporting requirements, adds penalties for not reporting annually and repeals the DOR process to review industry-specific town TIDs.

AB 133 – Donor TIDs:  Allows any TID to be a recipient TID and use tax increments, if the involved taxing jurisdictions lie within the same municipality. In addition, this bill excludes small taxing jurisdictions (such as lake, sanitary or public inland lake districts) from donating to tax increments.

AB 135 – Vacant Land and City Owned Land:  Removes the restriction that property standing vacant may not comprise more than 25 percent of the area in a TID and removes tax-exempt city-owned property from being assessed as part of base value.    

AB 136 – TID Value Ratio:  Increases TID value increments relative to total equalized value of taxable property in a city or village from 12 percent to 15 percent.

WEDA members are encouraged to contact their Assembly Representatives and urge them to support the complete TIF reform package during the spring session of the legislature. 

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