By: Tom Larson, NAIOP WI Lobbyist
November Election Results: NAIOP-Endorsed Candidates Win Big
November 4th was a great day for Republicans in Wisconsin. At the top of the ticket, Scott Walker was re-elected governor by a 52-47 margin, which was a bigger margin of victory than many had predicted given polling numbers over the last several months that showed Walker in a dead heat with challenger Mary Burke. Walker won 56 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties and received 136,807 more votes than Burke. By comparison, Walker won 59 counties in 2010 when he ran against Tom Barrett, but won with only 123,444 votes.
In the Wisconsin Legislature, Republicans had similar success. Going into the November elections, Republicans controlled the Assembly 60-39 and the Senate 18-15. After the elections, the Republican majorities increased in both houses, adding 3 seats in the Assembly (63-36) and 1 seat in the Senate (19-14). From a historical standpoint, these are huge majorities and the biggest Republican majority in the Assembly since 1957. In addition to large Republican majorities, the legislature will have many new faces, with 25 new members in the Assembly (over 25% of the house) and 7 new members in the Senate (21% of the house).
While Republicans had a good night, NAIOP-WI had an even better night with respect to its political endorsements. Based upon an analysis of candidates’ past voting records on NAIOP’s legislative priorities and where the candidates stand on issues important to the commercial industry, NAIOP endorsed Governor Scott Walker/Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, along with 11 Republican and Democratic candidates running for State Senate and 21 running for State Assembly. We are happy to report that all of the NAIOP-endorsed candidates were victorious.
We look forward to working closely with Governor Walker and members of the legislature during the upcoming 2015-16 legislative agenda on issues important to the commercial development industry such as continued regulatory reform, cutting taxes and increasing funding for transportation infrastructure.
TIF Study Group Makes Recommends New Legislation
Last week, the Legislative Council’s TIF Study Committee wrapped up its review of Wisconsin’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Law by recommending several pieces of legislation to be considered by the legislature during the upcoming legislative session. The committee, which was chaired by Senator Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) and Representative Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton), met numerous times over the last 5 months to consider ways to improve Wisconsin’s TIF law. During this time, committee members heard testimony from commercial developers, local economic development officials, and others about how TIF operates to promote economic development and problems with the TIF law which prevent it from being more effective. Concerns were also raised about the over use of TIF and possible negative impacts on local taxpayers.
In the end, the committee voted to recommend passage of several changes to the TIF law including:
- Increasing the 12% equalized value limit to 15% — The 12% limit requires that the equalized value of the taxable property in the proposed TID, plus the value increments of all existing TIDs does not exceed 12 percent of the total equalized value of the city or village. Numerous communities throughout Wisconsin have reached the 12% threshold and are prohibited, under current law, from approving any additional TIF districts, which is hurting their ability to promote economic development.
- Modifications to Joint Review Board (JRB) requirements – Requires local communities to create a standing JRB (rather than a temporary JRB) to create a TID, and requires the standing JRB to remain in existing for the entire time than any TID exists.
- Removes restrictions on donor TIDs – Allows any TID to donate to or share increment with any other district within the community regardless of whether it is in a special purpose district. Current law prohibits TIDs from donating to other TIDs located in special purpose districts.
These recommendations and others will be drafted and introduced as separate pieces of legislation and will be considered by the full legislature when it begins the 2015-16 legislative session in January.
A special thanks to NAIOP-WI members Dick Lincoln (Mandel Group, Inc.) and Mike Slavish (Hovde Properties) for serving the study group. Also thanks to Mike Mooney (MLG Capital) for his contributions during the initial sessions.