May 26th, 2017

Remembering Those Who Served

Please take some time this weekend to remember those who served and ultimately gave their all for our country. Memorial Day weekend is the official beginning of summer for many of us, but it is important to remember and be thankful for those brave men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. If you see a veteran this weekend, please thank them for their service!

Have a nice weekend,


Joint Finance Committee Update

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) continues to hold executive sessions regarding the 2017-19 biennial budget. During these sessions, members of the committee debate and vote on specific provisions from Governor Walker's budget proposal. The goal of these sessions is to improve upon what the Governor has proposed while taking into consideration public input.

The executive sessions will continue throughout the month of May and into June. Once we have concluded executive sessions, we will submit a complete budget to both the Senate and the Assembly for approval. If both houses approve the budget, it will go to Governor Walker's desk for final approval.

Here is an update with some of the highlights from the sessions this last week:

Increasing Financial Aid
•The main source of financial aid for Wisconsin students is the Wisconsin Grant. This grant provides needs-based aid to undergraduate students from Wisconsin who attend in-state institutions.
•In his 2017-19 budget proposal, the Governor recommended increasing funding for this scholarship program by $10 million. In addition to the Governor’s recommendation, the JFC approved increased funding to the Wisconsin Grant by $5 million. This additional funding will give more students access to higher education in Wisconsin.

Helping Victims of Abuse and Violence
•The committee voted to increase funding for grants to help maximize access to civil legal services for victims of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and other violent acts.

Reducing Fraud and Abuse
•The committee approved a modified version of the Governor’s recommendation, requiring controlled substance screening, testing, and treatment as a condition of eligibility for certain W-2 employment positions.
•This action will help mitigate instances of fraud and abuse in Wisconsin’s W-2 program.

Expanding Homelessness Prevention Services
•The committee voted to allocate $500,000 annually over the biennium for shelter facilities to provide intensive case services to homeless families.

Supporting Boys and Girls Clubs
•The committee unanimously approved a motion that distributes additional Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)funds between Milwaukee, Appleton, and Oshkosh Boys and Girls Clubs.
•This change allows for all three chapters to create programs emphasizing the importance of high school graduation.

Reducing the Size and Scope of Government
•The committee voted to approve shared services between agencies. This will consolidate several department functions to help state government run more effectively and efficiently.
•After Thursday, the condition of the general fund balance has improved by $80 million.

Higher Ed Accountability
•The committee voted to continue the UW System tuition freeze.
•This will help in-state undergraduate students and their families to afford college here in Wisconsin.

Carbone Cancer Center Investment
•The committee invested in the Carbone Cancer Center, which will increase access to precision medicine for cancer patients across Wisconsin.

Long Term Care Investments
•The committee invested in several programs to increase access to and improve long term care services:
    ◦Personal Care Rate Increase
    ◦Investments in Dementia Care Specialists
    ◦Investments in Family Care
    ◦Increased Funding for Disproportionate Share Hospitals

The next JFC Executive Sessions will be held on Wednesday, May 31st. The following budget areas will be covered:
-Appropriation Obligation Bonds
-Corrections -- Parole Commission
-Supreme Court
-District Attorneys
-Investment Board
-Administration -- Information Technology
-Administration -- Procurement
-Administration -- Housing
-Workforce Development -- Departmentwide
-Workforce Development -- Employment and Training
-Workforce Development -- Other Programs
-Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
-Fox River Navigational System Authority
-Natural Resources -- Departmentwide
-Natural Resources -- Forestry, Parks and Recreation
-Board of Commissioners of Public Lands

Retention and Expansion of Dementia Care Specialists!

Yesterday, along with my Republican colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee, I voted to restore and expand the Dementia Care Specialist program, as well as increase funding to the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
As the former chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Dementia, the retention and expansion of Dementia Care Specialists across Wisconsin is something very important to me. Thousands of Wisconsinites are impacted by dementia every day, whether they are living with the disease or caring for a loved one who has dementia.

Under the motion, 19 Dementia Care Specialists will be retained in the 2017-18 fiscal year. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, the program will expand to 24 Dementia Care Specialists and funding will be provided on an ongoing basis. Currently, Dementia Care Specialists are located in Aging and Disability Resource Centers throughout Wisconsin and provide assistance and support to those living with some form of dementia and the family members who care for them.

While traveling around the state with the Speaker’s Task Force, we heard time and again how important Dementia Care Specialists are to their local community. The number of Wisconsinites living with Alzheimer’s and dementia continues to grow and we must ensure that these individuals and their families have adequate support.

I would like to thank my fellow members of the Joint Finance Committee who voted in favor of these important initiatives, as well as the hundreds of constituents who expressed their support for Dementia Care Specialists and the UW-Madison Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Moving forward, I encourage both chambers of the legislature and Governor Walker to support Dementia Care Specialists and the UW-Madison Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center in the 2017-19 state budget.

Legislative Website

If you are interested in learning more about bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on please click here.  This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State Legislative page.  Also, if you are interested in viewing my office website, click here.


As always, if you have any comments or thoughts regarding the subject of this
E-Update, please feel free to contact me.

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State Capitol Room 321 East - PO Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-5719