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Contents

  • JFC Agency Briefings 
  • PFOS/PFOAs Public Hearing
  • Listening Session Reminder
  • Peshtigo River Bowhunters

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Legislative Website

Learn more about what I am working on here in Madison to improve the lives of my constituents!

HOPE Agenda

Stay up-to-date and informed on our progress to combat the opioid epidemic in our state.

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Joint Committee on Finance Agency Briefings

This week, the Joint Committee on Finance held our agency briefings. This is the opportunity for state agencies to come before the committee to talk about the Governor’s budget recommendations.

This week, we heard from the Department of Public Instruction, Department of Transportation, Department of Health Services, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources.

This was the unofficial beginning of the Legislature’s work on the state budget. Here are a few highlights from each agency of the last couple of days:

Department of Public Instruction:

  • The Governor has proposed increasing funding for DPI by $1.6 billion over the next two years. New revenues for the state total $1.8 billion.
  • Governor Ever’s budget threatens school choice programs, especially for low-income families.
  • General fund balances at school districts have increased over $500M since 2010.
  • A $600M increase in special education funding would not increase services for special education students.
  • The Governor’s budget increases property taxes.

Department of Transportation:

  • The Governor’s transportation budget, excluding debt service, is $5.95 billion, a $200 million increase from the current budget.
  • Total transportation-related taxes and fees increased $608.3 million under the Governor’s budget.
  • Transportation Secretary Thompson admitted that, under the Governor’s budget, road conditions would decline over the next two years.
  • The Governor’s minimum markup repeal claim that it will reduce gas prices by $14 cents per gallon is not corroborated by his secretary.
  • The Governor could line-item veto the illegal immigrant driver’s license provision to allow them to be used for voting.
  • After increasing taxes and fees by over $608 million, the budget contains only a modest increase for local governments road and bridge programs compared to the 2017-19 budget period.

Department of Health Services:

  • Governor Tony Evers' budget dramatically increases the number of individuals on welfare programs by expanding Medicaid.
  • The DHS Secretary did not agree that Medicaid is a welfare program or that it is better to have an individual on private health insurance coverage.
  • Individuals placed on government-run healthcare would likely not be able to keep their Doctor.
  • Wisconsin does not have a gap in access to health insurance coverage.
  • Among the 37 expansion states, only 5 have a better-uninsured rate than Wisconsin.

Department of Workforce Development

  • Governor Evers’ budget not only discontinues our historic investments into workforce development initiatives, it moves us in the wrong direction by not funding important initiatives like Wisconsin Fast Forward and the Wisconsin Career Creator.
  • Additionally, there is great concern surrounding the unemployment insurance reforms included in the Governor's budget. For example, the Governor proposes eliminating drug testing from as an eligibility for benefits.
  • The Governor’s budget raises taxes on manufacturers and other businesses which will hurt Wisconsin’s economy, which currently has a 2.9% unemployment rate.

Department of Natural Resources

  • Outdoor hunting and recreation are huge parts of the Wisconsin way of life and our economy. The budget lacks leadership and funding to address two significant threats to these activities - Chronic Wasting Disease and invasive species.
  • The Governor proposes reauthorizing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program for two more years. This program is typically re-upped in ten-year increments, so this change in direction has created a great deal of uncertainty among environmental and conservation stakeholder groups.
  • The Governor also proposes increasing fees and regulation on certain dairy farmers. As the dairy industry experiences one of its worst downturns in generations, this proposal has been met with serious skepticism.

Department of Corrections

  • Despite making several promises on the campaign trail, the Governor’s budget does not make any substantive reforms to the DOC. Costs and populations are both slated to increase over the next two years under his plan.
  • Last fall, candidate Evers pledged to reduce the state’s prison population by half. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau confirmed for us that this budget does nothing to reduce the population.
  • Over the last several years, the Democrats harped on the previous administration for the ballooning costs of overtime paid to correctional staff. Not only does the budget propose continuing this trend, but it actually increases the amount allotted for overtime from $48 million annually to $62 million annually, a nearly 30% increase.
Public Hearing on PFOS/PFOAs Bill

As you may remember, I introduced legislation requiring the Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish groundwater quality standards for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). In the Marinette area, the testing of firefighting foam containing these chemicals has led to contamination of the groundwater. Testing is also beginning to reveal elevated concentrations of PFAS and PFOA in wells the Milwaukee and Madison areas.

As we begin to see a wider impact of PFOA and PFOS in our drinking water and discuss ways to resolve this problem, it is important to have guidance on what levels of these chemicals are safe for human consumption. I authored a similar piece of legislation on this topic last session, but this year’s version requires DHS to act within 90 days of the bill’s passage.

My goal in drafting this legislation is to bring awareness to PFAS contamination as an emerging issue in Wisconsin, and provide us with a state standard so we can begin adequately addressing contamination moving forward. This standard will help inform people what concentrations of PFAS remain safe for consumption. It will also provide greater clarity and direction for the DNR with both enforcement and clean-up efforts.

On Thursday, I had the opportunity to testify on this bill to the Assembly Committee on the Environment. I look forward to moving this bill forward in the legislative process.

Here is a photo from the public hearing:

 

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Listening Session Reminder

My first listening session of the 2019-21 session is quickly approaching! I always value opportunities to speak with friends and neighbors on the issues that impact them the most and what I can do to be their voice down in Madison.

When and Where:

Monday, April 8th
4:30 pm- 5:30 pm
W-H Meeting Room 1
Weyers-Hilliard Branch Public Building
2680 Riverview Drive
Green Bay

If you have any questions, please contact my office at Rep.Nygren@Legis.Wisconsin.Gov or (608)-266-2343. I look forward to seeing you there! I will be announcing more listening sessions around the district at later dates.

Peshtigo River Bowhunters

Earlier this week I was proud to see the keel laid on Marinette Marine’s Littoral Combat Ship 25, the future USS Marinette. Generally, the keel is the first part of the ship’s hull to be constructed, so this marks the beginning of the USS Marinette.

The USS Marinette will be the first commissioned ship, and second overall in naval service, to be named after Marinette. The other ship named after Marinette was the Marinette YTB-791, a Natick-class large fleet tugboat. Marinette Marine was awarded the contract to build the USS Marinette on March 31, 2016 at their shipyard in Marinette, Wisconsin.

Most recently, I invited Governor Evers to Marinette to tour Marinette Marine. A week later, Governor Evers announced a commitment to include $31 million in his state budget to support Marinette Marine.

I would like to thank Marinette Marine for their continued commitment to northeastern Wisconsin. Marinette Marine is one of the big reasons why Wisconsin has become the economic powerhouse of the Midwest.

 |State Capitol | Post Office Box 8953 | Madison, Wisconsin 53708 (608) 266-2344 | Toll Free: (888) 534-0089 | Fax: (608) 282-3689 |Rep.Nygren@legis.wi.gov |