May 12, 2017

 

JFC Executive Session Update


 

The Joint Finance Committee continued their Executive Session work on the budget this week, taking up a number of important areas.

Tuesday's session: Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board, Secretary of State, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Military Affairs, and Justice

Thursday's session: Financial Institutions, Public Service Commission, Safety and Professional Services -- Departmentwide, Safety and Professional Services -- Regulation of Professions, Health Services -- Medicaid Services Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Legislature

Tuesday Highlights:

  • Economic Development - Committee voted to expand economic development opportunities in our state through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, by allowing them to fund new loan activity from any of their appropriations. As a result, WEDC will be better equipped to help Wisconsin businesses hire and retain Wisconsin workers. The Committee also approved a motion to assist school districts with the technical aspect of establishing Fab Labs and developing curriculum and provide an additional $400,000.

  • Next Generation 911 - Approved a motion to begin upgrading Wisconsin's emergency communications to Next Generation 911. These upgrades will improve the ability for Wisconsinites to contact emergency services through text messages and video conferencing and help save lives.

  • Department of Justice: Treatment and Diversion Programs - The Committee approved a motion increasing funding for TAD by $500,000 over the biennium. With the implementation of this motion plus the appropriations as part of Special Session Assembly Bill 2, we have added a total of $5.8M annually to TAD in our state. TAD programs are more cost effective than incarceration and, if the TAD program is completed, help over 60% of individuals suffering with an addiction to achieve long-term recovery.

  • Military Affairs - Appropriated $500,000 in 2017-18 to award grants to local government to help replace equipment utilized by local HazMat teams. They will be able to better provide their designated services with the use of state-of-the-art equipment.

Thursday Highlights:

  • Public Service Commission: Broadband Expansion - Voted to modify the Governorís proposed broadband expansion to match legislation. This provides and additional $14m for expanded broadband access throughout the state.

  • DSPS: Regulation of Professions - Committee adopted a motion to remove the Governorís recommendation and require that an exam must be passed prior to state licensure. This motion will ensure only qualified individuals are licensed with the state.

  • Veterans Affairs: Veterans Trust Fund - To increase legislative oversight, the Committee voted to require legislative committee approval of fund transfers from the state veterans homes to the Veterans Trust Fund. This action ensures that veterans homes funding is used appropriately and not being diverted for other unintended purposes. Efforts like this help ensure our elderly and disabled veterans at Wisconsin veterans homes continue to have access to quality care.

  • Veterans Affairs: Grant Programs - Voted to approve Governorís recommendation and provide $80,000 annually for a grant to Disabled American Veterans, and increased the statutory grant funding requirement accordingly. These additional funds will be used to buy new vans to help veterans with their transportation needs.

Next Executive Session:


Growing the Workforce


On Wednesday, the Assembly approved a package of public benefit reforms to help encourage worker training, reward work, and remove barriers to independence.

Wisconsin has a lot of jobs available, but oftentimes no one to fill them. In fact, there are more than 100,000 jobs available on the employment website JobCenterofWisconsin.com. The goal of these reforms is to provide incentives to work and move away from dependence on government.

The package includes five bills that do the following:

  • Creates a pilot program that requires able-bodied adults to satisfy work requirements when receiving housing assistance

  • Help children of W-2 participants stay in school and fights truancy

  • Expands drug testing and treatment program in W-2 to help more individuals who want to work but struggle with substance abuse

  • Study the feasibility of mobility grants which would assist those receiving unemployment benefits to relocate to areas with more available jobs

  • Help individuals transition off welfare by addressing whatís known as the benefit cliff in Wisconsin Shares, which provides low-income, working parents with child care subsidies. Currently, when someone reaches a certain income level all their benefits end, which can create a disincentive to career advancement and employee success. This legislation will put in place a sliding scale for Wisconsin Shares benefits and ensures that there are no disincentives to employment success. As income increases, benefits are slowly reduced until they are self-sufficient.

Programs that create incentives towards work can be successful by helping individuals get the training or assistance they need to find a steady job or career. Public benefit reform is part of the Assembly Republican Forward Agenda to fight against waste and abuse in government assistance programs. The goal is simple: ensure these programs do what theyíre intended to do by temporarily providing assistance to individuals and helping them get back into the workforce.

These bills now head to the Senate for consideration and approval.


Recognizing Great Individuals


 

This week, I had another opportunity to attend an event recognizing the great individuals that live in our community. The Greater Menomonee Falls Foundation helps to organize and raise funds to help improve the Menomonee Falls community in an effective and efficient manner. On Tuesday, they held their awards ceremony, Ovation, which recognizes "civic leaders and groups that keep the Menomonee Falls area strong and vibrant".

 

Diane and Bob Cowan - Unsung Heroes Award Winners

 

Diane Becker, Patsy Baer, and Phyllis Waters - Shining Stars Award Winners

 

Marian and Ray Etzel - Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

 

A big thank you to these outstanding individuals. Thank you for all the great work you do to make our community better.

 

 


Community Events


Menomonee Falls

Event: Police Memorial Day Service

Date and Time: May 21st 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Location: Taylor Park

Description: Join Menomonee Falls Police Department for the Police Memorial Day Service held to honor and remember those who have given their lives in service to their communities.

Brown Deer

       Event: Eat and Greet on the Street

       Date and Time: June 3rd 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM

       Location: Original Village of Brown Deer

       Description: Eat & Greet on the Street is a block party to celebrate the completion of the Original Village Streetscaping project. Featuring local bands, community groups, artisan marketplace, games and activities.

 Germantown Area

Event: Mai Fest 2017

Date and Time: May 19th through 21st

Location: Friedenfeld Park

Description: See website for additional details and calendar.

 

           
   
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