State of the State
On Tuesday, Governor Walker delivered his sixth state
of the state address where he described not only how great Wisconsin
is doing but also that our state’s future is bright and moving in
the right direction. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a historic
fourteen-year low, the lowest since March 2001; more jobs are being
created, last year we saw the largest monthly jobs gain since April
1992; and those who want a job are more able to obtain a job with
the percentage of people working in Wisconsin at 67.8 percent, 5.3
points better than the national rate, putting Wisconsin in the top
ten states in America.
It is exciting to report that more people in this state are working.
As the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Workforce Development, my
top priority is helping prepare our state’s current and future
workforce for the high-demand jobs available in our state. Current
employment statistics and local area unemployment statistics show
that more people were working in 2015 than at any time in the past
twenty-years. That being said, with more people working comes the
development of more businesses in Wisconsin. New business creation
was up 3.6 percent last year. With all this growth, Wisconsin will
close out the 2015-17 biennium with a gross positive balance of $135
million as reported by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Of that $135 million, $65 million will automatically be set aside
for reserve, as required by law, leaving the state with a net
surplus of $70 million.
Not only is our state’s economic outlook and employment rate
improving but our students continue to achieve. In 2015, Wisconsin
graduates had the second highest ACT scores in the country. This is
primarily due to the fabulous teachers that we have across this
state; teachers who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of
our state’s future leaders. Also, Fourth and Eighth grade reading
scores increased in 2015 and graduation rates were also improved.
Moving forward, the Legislature and the Governor will work together
to continue our efforts to improve worker training and ensure that
the skilled workforce needed for today’s jobs is available. As a
member of the Speaker’s Task Force on Youth Workforce Readiness, I
am pleased that the Governor is supporting initiatives to help our
young people find exciting and rewarding careers in high-demand
employment fields. Also, we will address other important issues such
as: the state’s heroin and opiate epidemic; Alzheimer’s and
dementia; lowering student debt and making education more
affordable; and public safety.
The Governor’s report to the state was very positive and optimistic
and I look forward to the new challenges ahead including: continuing
to put people back to work; preparing our students today for the
jobs of tomorrow; supporting our service men and women; further
eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse within state programs; and
continuing to look for savings and reforms to better our state.
Petryk Legislation Receives Hearings in the
Senate and Assembly
In the past two weeks, I was fortunate to have three bills of which
I am the primary Assembly author receive public hearings in the
State Senate and Assembly. Those bills include Assembly Bill 748
(Senate Bill 523),
Assembly Bill 591 (Senate Bill 441), and Assembly
Bill 636 (Senate Bill 483). The following is a brief description of
each piece of legislation:
Assembly Bill 748/ Senate Bill 523 – Technical Education Equipment
Senate Bill 523 will provide grants to school districts to encourage
participation in technical education courses and ultimately,
family-sustaining careers in manufacturing. Under our bill, a school
district could apply for a matching grant ranging from $10,000 to
$50,000. Schools would need to secure matching funds from area
private businesses and/or other community assistance. With this
bill, we will become more able to help students transition into
high-demand, good-paying jobs across Wisconsin. This bill will
encourage public-private collaboration and investment in local
schools across the state, which will be a key component in the
success of young people seeking to enter high-demand technical
The Department of Workforce Development would be responsible for
administering this program through additional funding added to the
Wisconsin Fast Forward program. Also, the bill requires the
Department to establish a public and private sector Committee
comprised of five people from the department, private organizations
in advanced manufacturing, and anyone else the Secretary deems
suitable for this Committee. This Committee would establish the
grant criteria and would accept and award the grant applications.
Assembly Bill 591/ Senate Bill 441 – Professional Credentials
Senate Bill 441 recognizes and protects a variety of professional
credentials in fields important to public safety and will help those
who have earned professional credentials in these fields by
recognizing them in statute. Under the bill, misrepresentation of
having earned these credentials would be punishable by a misdemeanor
with a fine of up to $1000.
The credentials covered under Senate Bill 441 are: certified
dangerous goods professional; certified hazardous materials manager;
certified hazardous materials practitioner; certified health
physicist; certified industrial hygienist; certified safety
professional; and registered radiation protection technologist.
Senate Bill 441 does not create any new licenses or bureaucracy to
support its implementation but it simply provides an enforcement
tool if anyone falsely represents themselves as having obtained
these credentials. At this time, similar legislation has passed in
at least 19 other states. Through Senate Bill 441 we want to ensure
that those representing themselves as holding these particular
credentials have in fact met the minimum qualifications required by
the state, and thereby, safeguarding the public.
Assembly Bill 636/ Senate Bill 483 – Creative Economy
Arts and cultural experiences account for a significant number of
small business that stimulate Wisconsin’s economy. According to Arts
Wisconsin, the nonprofit arts and cultural sector in Wisconsin
generates $535 million annually in economic activity, of which $65
million is local and state revenue and $479 million is resident
income. The industry also employs over 42,000 full-time workers
among 10,000 businesses.
Under this bill, applicants can apply for funds through this grant
program for up to $40,000 and must have secured at least a
two-to-one match of non-state funds for the project. Under the
legislation, the Arts Board would be required to not only develop a
process for the grants but also report back on the effectiveness of
the grant program to the Joint Finance Committee.
DATCP NEWS RELEASE: Keep an Eye Out for Tax Preparation Fraud
From the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer
As we enter another tax season, two issues stand out as particularly
important when prepping for your return: making sure you have all
your necessary documents and finding a company you can trust to help
you file your taxes. After all, you are entrusting this company or
individual with your most valuable personal and financial
information. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and
Consumer Protection (DATCP) asks the public to be on the lookout for
questionable tax practices in the months ahead and to report any
suspicious behavior to the agency.
“By and large, Wisconsin tax preparation businesses are legitimate
and provide an extremely valuable service to consumers,” said Frank
Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection.
“A handful of shady businesses pop up each year, however, collecting
personal financial information under false pretenses or secretly
filing customer’s tax returns and stealing from the refund.
“We ask that consumers who see questionable tax practices contact
DATCP immediately so that we can take quick action.”
A common type of tax and loan scam involves tax prep businesses
filing returns on behalf of consumers without their consent. These
businesses initially solicit the consumers with a promise of
providing short-term loans and then pocket exorbitant fees from the
tax refunds they file in the consumer’s name.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming the victim of tax preparation
- Be alert to promotions such as “holiday
loans” or other short-term loans that can be used to gain the
personal financial information needed to file an individual’s
- Be careful providing personal financial information to a business
unless you want the preparer to file your taxes.
- Make sure you
provide clear direction and that the company specifically advises
you on whether they intend to file your tax return.
- Never sign an authorization permitting a company to file your
taxes if you do not want the company to do so.
- Never sign a document without first reading and understanding what
- Always insist upon receiving copies of all documents that you are
required to sign or that identify the terms of a transaction and the
charges you will be required to pay. Confirm, before signing, that
you will receive copies. If a business does not agree to provide
copies, don’t sign.
DATCP works with the Wisconsin Departments of Justice and Revenue to
detect tax preparation fraud. Anyone suspecting fraudulent activity
is encouraged to file a complaint with DATCP. Complaints can be
filed online through the DATCP website (http://datcp.wi.gov) or a
complaint form can be requested by calling the state’s Consumer
Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.
Events Around the 93rd Assembly
Thank you all for letting us
know about upcoming events in the 93rd Assembly District. It is my
pleasure to share them with others through this newsletter. If you
have an event, please share them with me a month in advance and my staff
and I will do our best to share in our e-update.
Annual Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre
“Luck Be A Murder Tonight”
January 22, 23, 29, 30, 2016
The Oxford, Eau Claire
Candlelight Snowshoe Hike
January 22, 2016, 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Beaver Creek Reserve Wise Nature Center, Fall Creek
Introduction to Snowshoeing
January 23, 2016, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Beaver Creek Reserve Wise Nature Center, Fall Creek
Used Book Sale
January 25-29, 2016
Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
January 26, 2016, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The Hub on Main, Ellsworth
Free Pancake Supper
February 9, 2016, 4:00 p.m. -7:00 p.m.
Zion Lutheran Church, Eau Claire
Sarah Nelson Memorial Pancake Breakfast
Sunday, February 21st, 2016
$5.00 for adults and
$3.00 for kids
93rd Assembly District Local Resources
Representative Petryk Online