March 13, 2017
Wisconsin’s local governments and school districts would be forced to buy property insurance on the private market under a plan in Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2017-19 state budget.
The plan is nearly identical to one that Walker offered two years ago in his last budget, but the item was removed by the legislature. At the time, numerous local governments opposed eliminating the state’s Local Government Property Insurance Fund, which was started in 1911. They claimed insurance on the private market would likely cost taxpayers sharply more than buying it through the state program.
At its peak, the fund provided insurance coverage for nearly 1,100 counties, cities, villages, towns and school districts. But today the fund insures fewer than 200 local governments. The fund has been forced to borrow taxpayer dollars and sharply increase premiums after large payouts between 2010 and 2014.
The legislature will consider Walker’s proposed budget in the next few months and send it back to the governor for final approval this summer.
The biggest beneficiaries of the fund’s hard times, and possible demise, are property and casualty insurers, which contributed about $254,600 in individual and political action committee contributions to Walker between January 2011 and December 2016.
Current legislators accepted about $48,000 in campaign contributions from property and casualty insurers between January 2011 and December 2016. Most of those contributions – about $44,000 – went to Republicans, who control both houses of the legislature.
Top legislative recipients of contributions from the property and casualty insurance industry between January 2011 and December 2016 were GOP Sen. Frank Lasee, of De Pere, $5,000; Republican Rep. John Nygren, of Marinette, $4,210; the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee, $3,050; and GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, $2,550.