State Budget Signed; Next Up: Building Permit Application Reform
In order for the residential building industry to remain strong, we need to combine our individual efforts to affect the economic climate, political climate and the codes and regulations under which we work. Together, as an association, we make a difference we could not do alone. –Brandon Bartow, Bartow Builders, Inc., Manitowoc County HBA

The biggest question that was pondered once the legislation session started in January 2019 was how long it would take to have a state budget signed into law. At one point in the process it seemed more likely that Governor Evers would veto the entire budget and wait for the legislature to send him a different version, likely in the fall.

Ultimately, Governor Evers announced that he was signing the state budget with 78 partial

vetoes and went on to say that “vetoing this budget in its entirety would have been more of the same divisiveness and petty, political theatrics that the people of Wisconsin have had to put up with for far too long.”

Our efforts on the state budget go back to March when we had members from across the state travel to the capitol to advocate for and against various provisions in the state budget. We were very pleased that most items that we advocated on were addressed before the budget was signed into law.

There were no changes to state law regarding tax incremental financing (the ability for municipalities to exceed revenue caps) and prevailing wage provisions dealing with developer-financed infrastructure. The Department of Safety of Professional Services received an additional $5 million to support technology upgrades for trades credentialing.

Unfortunately, the Joint Committee on Finance removed a provision to provide a state tax advantage for first time homebuyer saving accounts that we supported. Additionally, with one of his partial vetoes Governor Evers added an increase in the registration fee for “heavy trucks” that we opposed.

The outcome of the recently signed state budget is a positive development for housing in Wisconsin.

Going forward, one of our main priorities of this session is to not backtrack on the reforms we gained over the previous eight years. Reforming the process to apply for single family building permits remains a top priority this fall. Our bill to make sure municipalities are not asking for both a paper and online building permit form has already passed the state assembly on a bipartisan voice vote and has had a hearing in the Senate Committee on Utilities and Housing. We are hopeful that this bill will be voted out of the Senate Committee soon, thus available for a vote by the full state senate when they return in September.

With twenty-one coauthors in both political parties, including the chairs and ranking democrat members of both housing committees, and the strong support so far for this important reform, we believe we are making a strong case for this bill to signed into law by Governor Evers. We continue to look forward to other ways can advance the pro-housing agenda.