WED AM News: Legislature passes PPP tax protections; Evers’ budget aims to restore collective bargaining, raise minimum wage, cap manufacturing credit

— The Legislature has overwhelmingly approved legislation that would match state law to more than two dozen federal tax codes, including a provision that would ensure businesses that took PPP loans aren’t taxed on the expenses they covered with the federal money.

Wisconsin business groups say it will save small businesses $431 million. 

The Assembly made several tweaks to the legislation. That includes excluding from income taxes state aid that was provided through federal money from COVID-19 relief legislation for broadband expansion, lodging industry grants, grants to small businesses and a farm support program.

Following a 87-3 vote by the Assembly, the bill was sent to the Senate and passed 27-5. It’s now going to Gov. Tony Evers.

Dem Assembly members criticized the bill, saying it would give benefits disproportionately to businesses that profited most during the pandemic. They proposed an amendment that would allow businesses that made less than $250,000 per year to deduct the PPP loan expenditure from their state taxes. That would impact about 91 percent of businesses, said Tip McGuire, D-Kenosha. It didn’t pass. 

Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, slammed Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce for putting out misleading talking points and calling the PPP tax a “surprise tax.”

Read the full story at 

— Restoring collective bargaining powers for some state employees is just one provision Gov. Tony Evers is proposing that would undo changes in state labor laws that Republicans implemented over the past decade.

Under Walker, Republicans pushed through Act 10 in 2011 stripping most public employees of the power to collectively bargain. The package of changes also included a requirement that unions receive support from 51 percent of members, not just those voting, to obtain recertification. The budget would eliminate that requirement.

The collective bargaining provision would apply to front-line workers whose regular duties include interacting with the public or large populations or maintaining public works. The Evers administration said the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission would be tasked with defining which bargaining units would be impacted.  

Employers would also be required to meet at least quarterly on policies affecting wages, hours and working conditions.

Evers didn’t propose any changes to collective bargaining powers in his first budget.

— The budget also would overturn the GOP ban on project labor agreements, which allow government contracts to be awarded exclusively to unionized firms. 

It also would restore the prevailing wage, a requirement that projects funded by state and local governments pay the hourly wage and benefits paid to the majority of workers in the project’s area.

— Evers also wants to raise the state’s minimum wage, now $7.25 an hour, to $8.60 after the effective date of the budget. 

It would then go to $9.40 on Jan. 1, 2023, and $10.15 on Jan. 2, 2024, before being indexed for inflation.

And it calls for the creation of a task force to study going to a $15-an-hour minimum wage. Congressional Dems are now debating whether to include a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour in the pending $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill.

— The net impact of Evers’ tax proposals would be a $1 billion increase over the biennium, according to his office.

The biggest chunk of that would come from matching state tax laws to the provisions of a tax bill former President Trump signed in December 2017. The combined impact of the numerous changes would be an increase of $540.1 million.

Two years ago, Republicans rejected Evers’ attempt to place new limits on the manufacturing and ag credit. But he has brought back the proposal. Like last time, it would restrict the credit for manufacturers to $300,000 per tax year. The change would raise an additional $487.4 million over the biennium.

See more in the Budget Blog: 

Watch Evers’ budget address: 

— Evers again called to expand Medicaid as the Biden administration tries to persuade the dozen holdout states, including Wisconsin, to expand.

“Clearly, Medicaid expansion will allow us to recapture taxes that the Wisconsinites have paid into their federal government without getting any return on it,” Evers said in a recent “UpFront”, produced in partnership with

He continued: “It’s connected to making sure that we have a solid health care system in the state of Wisconsin that we’re addressing some of those disproportionate health outcomes that we have every place in Wisconsin … we need those resources, but we also need to have that connection to the Medicaid system so that we can accomplish those things.” 

His budget says expansion would cover all low-income Wisconsin residents who earn incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, providing health care coverage to nearly 91,000 additional Wisconsinites. 

Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government covers 90 percent of state Medicaid costs for certain newly eligible individuals. That’s led many states, including some led by conservatives, to expand over the past few years, the Washington Post reported.

But those incentives weren’t strong enough for Wisconsin. Evers asked the Legislature two years ago to expand Medicaid, but Republicans rejected the plan. 

A Biden-backed coronavirus relief bill making its way through Congress includes a large incentive for states to expand Medicaid. If a state does so, the federal government would increase its Medicaid contribution to the state by 5 percentage points for two years. 

— Wisconsin reported 624 new COVID-19 cases coming into today, bringing the seven-day average for daily confirmed cases down to 754 from 762 cases. 

That’s the lowest average since early September. The record, hit Nov. 18, was 6,563 cases per day. Wisconsin has 10,312 active cases and over 556,000 cumulative cases.

DHS’ coronavirus dashboard shows the average positive test percentage fell to 3.1 percent, a figure last seen in mid-June. 

Milwaukee County, the most populated county in Wisconsin, has the most cases (97,149) and the most deaths (1,214) of any other county. But Menominee County has the highest infection rate of over 18 cases per 100 people. And Iron County has the highest death rate of over 3 deaths per 1,000 people. Both Menominee and Iron counties are among the least populated counties in Wisconsin. 

The state also added 38 deaths yesterday, bringing the death toll to 6,204. Milwaukee County led the increase with 26 deaths. Washington and Winnebago counties each added two to their tolls. 

The seven-day average for daily deaths remained at 16 from Sunday. The highest average was 61 on Dec. 7.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

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— There’s nine days left to register for Manufacturing Matters! to be held virtually on Feb. 25. 

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership hosts the conference. The theme focuses on how organizations and individuals can overcome challenges and turn disruptions into opportunities for growth — much like how the state’s manufacturing sector adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Speaker and author Mike Evans is the morning keynote, speaking on how companies can excel in the new world of work. And Jim Davidson, an expedition leader and author, is the afternoon speaker. Davidson will share techniques for overcoming adversity and reaching lofty goals. This year’s conference also features 12 breakout sessions.

Register here: 

— UW-Green Bay and the Department of Tourism are collaborating to revitalize travel in northeast Wisconsin by hosting a virtual summit on April 22.

Tourism is an integral part of the Wisconsin economy, and the pandemic created challenges and disruption for the many businesses and workers that make up this multibillion-dollar industry. 

The tourism summit will feature three workshop sessions with Travel Wisconsin Regional Specialists Andrew Nussbaum and David Spiegelberg, who will share important insights on how best to optimize tourism trends and opportunities.

“Because of COVID-19 many Americans cancelled travel plans in 2020, leaving days of paid vacation time on the table,” Nussbaum said. “They are now looking for responsible ways to travel. We want to help area businesses, attractions and destinations get ready for this opportunity.”

The summit is tailored for any business or frontline worker associated with tourism in Wisconsin, including restaurants, hotels, golf courses or other attractions. 

— The latest episode of “ The Show” spotlights Erin Clausen, investment manager for Irontek in Beloit. 

Clausen oversees Irontek and Grey Collar Ventures, which invests in Beloit-based startups.

Watch the show: 


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# Fiserv Forum reopens at limited capacity, with COVID protocols

# Ag Groups Applaud Focus on Broadband Accessibility, Affordability 



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– Wisconsin Vegetable Growers Had a Good Year in 2020 

– USDA: Nearly 60,000 Farm Workers in Wisconsin and Surrounding States 


– UW System Leaders Discussing Ways To Consolidate 2-Year Campuses With Tech Colleges 


– UW-Madison offers a build at home solution for better fitting face masks


– DWD Says PUA Unemployment Payments Expected To Go Out In Late April 


– More than half of Rexnord to merge into Regal Beloit in $3.69 billion deal 

– Rockwell Automation names former 3M executive as chief financial officer 

– Johnson Controls to close Texas plant, idling 200 


– Milwaukee Brewers sign first contract with new owner of Fox Sports Wisconsin 


– Gov. Tony Evers Unveils $91B ‘Bounceback’ State Budget 


– Pleasant Prairie, F Street exploring mixed-use project at Village Green Center 

– 475 apartments proposed for Wauwatosa lot near village, medical center 


– UK variant of coronavirus reaches Milwaukee, creating need for restrictions, local health officials say 


– Pick ‘n Save parent Kroger plans to launch first-of-its-kind rapid Covid test 


– Waukesha startup Manthini aims to be a player in energy distribution market 


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