In 2011-12, GAB numbers show, Wisconsin contract lobbyists (hired guns) were reportedly paid $30.8 million. Meanwhile, in-house lobbyists (lobby group employees) reported their lobbying-related compensation at $24.3 million. Other lobby costs came to $7.8 million.
The session’s highest rollers, spending a total of $6.3 million, were public employee unions — Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Education Association Council and AFSCME Council 11. Tellingly, 94% of this flowed forth in 2011, when the unions were fighting changes that would weaken their power; just 6% came in 2012, after these changes were made.
Other big spenders in 2011-12 include Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Hospital Association, AT&T Wisconsin, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Property Taxpayers Inc. and Wisconsin Counties Association. All came in between $750,000 and $1 million. They were among more than 50 groups to top the $250,000 mark.
In terms of time spent, Wisconsin Property Taxpayers, a “property tax relief and reform” group, led the pack with 13,267 hours. A quarter of this, the largest share, went toward backing new state rules on metallic mining. Those efforts failed in 2011-12 but sailed through this year.
Other big players, time-wise, were the three aforementioned unions and AFSCME International, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Wisconsin Association of School Boards, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. All racked up more than 7,500 lobby hours.
In all, state groups reported 432,255 hours of lobbying — the equivalent of 100 people working full time over these two years.
A remarkable amount of money is spent on education lobbying. In 2010, WEAC spent $1,570,000 in an effort to re-elect four state senators. That is quite a statement and illustrates how things roll in the education world. Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary Club speech is well worth reading.