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Category: Public Policy News

Here you’ll find out who’s making the decisions shaping our community: Policy-makers are always busy creating new ways to advance the Madison region. Stay informed on the latest policies that may impact the way you do business.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Madison Common Council Passes 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets

The Madison Common Council approved the Mayor’s 2023 Operating and Capital Budgets last night, following two nights of debate that included 24 proposed amendments on topics including a new low-income bus pass program, adding funding to support the Madison Public Market project, adding funding for the Turman Olson Grocery Development project and increasing alder and city employee pay. 

Amendments such as the creation of a subsidized low-income bus pass program and funds for the River Food Pantry failed. Approved amendments included $4.5 million for the Madison Public Market; funds for police squad cars and six new officers funded through a grant; added funding to support Associates in Commercial Real Estate, a program that produces and prioritizes developers of color; and increasing the salary for city council members.

Following budget passage, the property tax levy will now be $273,679,349, which is less than the estimated maximum levy of $273,684,358. The amount of maximum General Obligation Borrowing is $288,477,981, which includes the new appropriations authorized by the passage of the amendments.

Photo by Richard Hurd

Mayor Proposes New City of Madison Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway is proposing a new Transportation Demand Management (TDM) program that would place new requirements on certain development and redevelopment projects with goals to decrease single-occupancy vehicle travel and increase transit-oriented development and public transit ridership. Currently, TDM plans are required for certain land uses, particularly for larger development projects. While flexible in its approach, the ambiguity and inconsistency in the standards can create hardship during the development approval process. The new program seeks to provide clear mitigation options to reduce subjectivity and streamline the approval process.

The Chamber supports these objectives, along with the need to address increasing congestion on our roads and encourage urban infill transit-oriented development projects. However, the program as currently drafted has several potential unintended consequences to both new development and redevelopment projects with an arguably minimal, at best, impact on the desired outcomes.

Recognizing that access to transit is limited in certain parts of the city, especially on the periphery, the proposal lowers the mitigation point total needed to gain approval in outlying areas. Despite this reduced threshold, employers may still need to take actions like reducing and/or charging employees for parking and providing complimentary bus passes, even when the employer and employees are not adequately served by convenient, accessible transit options. The program essentially passes the cost to businesses – including a filing fee and biannual recertification fee – without increasing transit ridership.

TDM is not new in Madison or in other major metropolitan areas. The difference is that successful TDM programs occur in areas with a regional, multi-modal transportation network in place that provides convenient transit options for users. Madison isn’t there yet, but the Chamber will continue to partner with the city and regional stakeholders to aggressively pursue funding opportunities to advance transit services, just as the Chamber supported the development of Bus Rapid Transit service.

With shared goals, the Chamber will continue to work with policymakers to address these concerns and make the program more manageable and more effective. The proposal will receive its first hearing at the city’s Plan Commission on Nov. 21, followed by the Transportation Commission on Nov. 30.  

If you have questions on the proposal or would like to share your thoughts with the Chamber, please contact David Aguayo at

Photo by Richard Hurd

Madison Operating Budget Introduced

Earlier this week, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway introduced her proposed 2023 Operating Budget. The budget, which pays for much of what is considered basic services, totals $381.9 million, a six percent increase in spending from last year and the highest year-over-year increase since 2009.

The increase is in part attributable to one-time spending items, including employee payments and funding for a private-public endowment to support on-going homeless shelter operating costs. Also adding to the increase is the amount of spending to pay back borrowing (debt service), which increases nearly 10 percent.

Efforts to balance the budget is benefited by the successful closure of TID 25 downtown ($6.9 million windfall) and increased state and local revenues. The property tax levy increases by $14.2 million (5.5 percent), due in part to the Town of Madison annexation and net new construction. If approved, taxes on the average home ($376,900) would increase by nearly 4 percent ($110.97).

Among the Mayor’s budgeted priorities are:

  • Salary increases and one-time payments for all employees
  • Expansion of Madison CARES program to 7 days a week
  • Increased funding for the Public Health Department’s Violence Prevention Team
  • Increased funding for the Police Department
  • Funding for Vision Zero traffic safety programs and infrastructure
  • Expansion of staffing and hours at Public Health Madison & Dane County’s reproductive health clinic
  • Expansion of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
  • Funding for a new Mad-CAP program which assists low-income households pay for municipal service bills
  • Funding for youth employment and internship opportunities

See full budget here.

Finance Committee hearings on the budget begin next week, with council deliberations occurring in mid-November. 

Photo by Richard Hurd

Mayor Rhodes-Conway Introduces Capital Budget

Earlier this week, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway unveiled her 2023 Executive Capital Budget and six-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The annual document details funding proposals for capital projects and programs, including buildings, infrastructure and other long-term improvements. 

Among the Mayor’s budgeted priorities are increased funds for affordable housing projects ($60 million over six years), bus rapid transit service ($23 million) and electric vehicles ($2.5 million), planning for potential Amtrak rail service ($350,000) and John Nolen Drive reconstruction and revisioning ($21.6 million). Specific to the city’s Economic Development Division are investments in the Small Business and Equitable Recovery Program, Building Improvement Grants, and the Commercial Building Ownership program – programs which the Chamber supports.  

The $368.4 million plan is largely funded through General Obligation Borrowing, along with other intergovernmental funds and proceeds from sources like successful Tax Incremental Financing districts. The amount of the operating budget going to pay down debt service is projected to rise to 17.4 percent of the general fund budget in 2023 and increase to 20 percent by 2029.

Similar to previous years, the budget package also includes a “Horizon List” for projects that have stated support without approved allocated funding within the CIP. The 2023 list includes a new North Side Police District Station, upgrades to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and the construction of McPike Park. 

This month, the Finance Committee will take into consideration amendments to the Capital Budget. On Oct. 10, the Mayor will introduce the Executive Operating Budget. Hearings on amendments will follow shortly after the announcement, with Council approval in November. 

Photo by Richard Hurd

Statement from Chamber President on Signing of CHIPS and Science Act into Law

Contact: Erik Greenfield, Communications Manager, 608-443-1952 (office), 608-669-7884 (cell)

Statement from Chamber President on Signing of CHIPS and Science Act into Law

MADISON – Today, President Biden signed into law the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act. Included in the law is a $10 billion investment over five years to create 20 geographically distributed “regional technology hubs” that will focus on technology development, job creation and expanding U.S. innovation capacity.

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Brookings Institution on this issue and led multiple delegations of Greater Madison business leaders to Capitol Hill to advocate for this proposal. In response to the signing, Chamber President Zach Brandon released the following statement:

“The regional technology hubs program represents an extraordinary, bipartisan effort to maximize Greater Madison’s – and the nation’s – economic potential.

“This is a huge opportunity for Greater Madison and Wisconsin. A 2019 Brookings report touted our region as the prime candidate for tech hub growth and the need to develop more such hubs across the nation’s heartland.

“We are excited about this opportunity to bolster well-positioned metros to establish more superstar cities, create more prosperity and strengthen our global innovation standing.”

About the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce:
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business with more than 1,200 organizations – ranging from one-person shops to corporations with more than 10,000 employees – working to bring the Greater Madison area to its full potential. The Greater Madison region is a leader in innovation. From cutting-edge technologies to distinctive retail shops to inventive services and products, our members vary greatly but are united by the region’s entrepreneurial spirit. More information can be found at