Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget largely offers “status quo” funding for the city of Madison, with new funding for transportation and concerns about some specifics like a cap on historic tax credit resources.
Walker’s $76.1 billion proposal continues existing funding for key programs that deliver funds to municipalities, including shared revenue, the expenditure restraint program, and payments for municipal services, said Curt Witynski, assistant director of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities.
The executive budget makes no major changes to state levy limits, the powerful cap on property tax collections, and creates no major mandates, Witynski said.
“It’s pretty much a status quo,” Madison finance director David Schmiedicke said.
Dane County is analyzing the budget proposal and will be able to offer an assessment in a few days, said Stephanie Miller, spokeswoman for County Executive Joe Parisi.
Although the governor didn’t adjust base state funding for local government, the budget does deliver a 6.8 percent, or $56.9 million increase to $896.3 million over two years for local transportation aid, which is used to improve roads and for traffic law enforcement.
The increase could boost Madison’s funding from about $10 million in 2017 to an estimated $10.8 million in 2018, Schmiedicke said.
The budget also increases funding for the local road improvement program by 25 percent, or $14 million, to $70 million over the two years, including an $8 million rise in discretionary spending directed to cities and villages. It raises the state share for local projects funded with those grants from 50 percent to 60 percent.
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It’s still unclear how the increase in the program will impact Madison, Schmiedicke said.
The governor also resurrected his proposal from the 2015-17 budget — eventually scratched by lawmakers — to limit the state’s popular program offering tax credits for the redevelopment of historic buildings. Walker would put a $10 million annual cap on annual tax credit allocations and prioritize job creation.
Supporters who rallied in opposition to the cap two years ago say the tax credit program helps restore historic buildings, boosts tax revenues, creates jobs and boosts civic pride.
In budget documents, Walker contends the program has grown to be one of the state’s most expensive tax expenditures and that the cap would save an estimated $3 million in fiscal 2017-18 and $14.1 million in 2018-19.
The League of Municipalities is likely to oppose the cutback, Witynski said.
The governor’s proposal to self-insure all government employees will impact Madison, but it’s too early to say how much, Schmiedicke said.
The proposal doesn’t change the design of health plans, but the impact on costs for municipalities such as Madison that participate in the state’s local insurance pool is unclear, he said.