First Update of the 2017 - 2018 Session


January 9, 2017

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Madison, WI 53708

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It is hard to believe but the legislature is back in session. This week, my colleagues and I were sworn in on by the Chief Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. And next week, the Governor will be delivering his State of the State address.



Like the State of the Union Address, the State of the State is an opportunity for the Chief Executive of state government to outline his plan for the next year and share his goals. Of course, everything is in broad terms but it helps give those of us in the legislature a sense of the direction our next session will take.

Following the State of the State, the Governor will be back a few weeks later in front of the Legislature again to deliver his budget address. That will be the official start of the budget process for the 2017-18 biennium. Once the Governor gives his recommendations to the Legislature, the proposal will go to the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) to debate each and every provision. This process will go all the way until June when the proposal agreed upon by the JFC is voted on by both the Assembly and Senate. Then it is back to the Governorís desk for his signature.

One of the things I always try to remember during the budget address is that the proposal introduced in January will be very different from the proposal signed into law in June or July. The JFC takes the Governorís recommendation as just that Ė a recommendation. Each week we learn that certain aspects have been modified, expanded, or even eliminated altogether.



The most contentious issue we are likely to deal with in the budget is transportation. Even with the constitutional amendment to protect the Transportation Fund, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that the fund will have a shortfall of nearly $1 billion. With our crumbling roads and bridges, it is clear that we are going to need to fund these repairs somehow but there is a lot of conflict about how we do it. Some people think we should raise the gas tax or index it to inflation. Others favor toll roads specifically to go after out-of-state drivers. Still others think we should cut spending on mega projects.

Last session during the budget process I sent out weekly e-updates to explain the latest on the budget process. As we get underway again this time, Iíll be starting that again. If you have any questions about the process or would like to track a particular issue, feel free to let me know and I can keep you posted.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions on any legislative or state issues. I hope to hear from you soon.


Steve Doyle

State Representative

94th Assembly District






Doyle New Yearís Column


You know that one family member you canít talk politics with? Now imagine there are 99 of themÖ

Sometimes it feels like that when I go down to Madison. Gone are the days when Republicans and Democrats could come together to socialize after a hard day of debating on the Assembly floor. In the last few months our state and country have seen partisan divides reach new heights that few could have imagined.

Lately politics is either awkward silence or screaming matches. Hardly anyone civilly discusses the issues anymore and it seems like no one wants to listen to what the other side has to say. Compromise and cooperation have become relics of the past. Coworkers are still nursing wounds from nasty arguments over the presidential election. Families are still sitting in uncomfortable silence around the dinner table. Spirited debates over current issues have been replaced with personal attacks and demonization.

The election is over. Itís time to move on.

My number one priority this session is to help bring back bipartisanship. Just as Iíve done for the past two legislative sessions, Iíll be cosponsoring an equal number of Democrat and Republican bills over the next two years. I will look for the best ideas, regardless of the political party. And when it comes to getting my own bills passed, Iíll keep working with the majority party like I have before. For me, it doesnít matter whose name is on the bill or if it is followed by a D or an R, just so long as it is in the best interests of my constituents and our State.

Some things are easy to do in a bipartisan manner, like working with a billís author to make just the right tweaks so that it can get a unanimous vote in committee or on the floor. Some things require a bit more effort, like sitting down with those on the other side to find out exactly where our disagreements begin and end. As a new member of the State Assembly leadership Iíve already had the opportunity to be part of the negotiations with the Republican leadership over the rules that will apply during our floor debate. I was pleased that we were able to reach an agreement fairly quickly on those rules Ė including an agreement that we need to put away our cellphones and actually pay attention to the debate.

Bringing back bipartisanship isnít going to be easy. Our state and our nation are deeply divided with fear and anger sometimes overruling common sense. It might even get louder before it gets quieter. But that still doesnít change the fact that working together is the right thing to do.

This isnít something that I can do on my own. It is something that will require a unified effort. We need to work together to fund our schools, fix our roads, create jobs, protect our environment, and promote economic development. This most recent election wasnít so much a victory for either party as a message for change. In Wisconsin, that change means we need to work together instead of one side dictating the terms and the other side refusing to engage.

Maybe working in a bipartisan manner wonít help you survive that lecture from your great uncle about how wrong you are politically. But it is my sincere hope that by coming together down in Madison, my colleagues and I from both parties can help change the political environment and make some needed improvements in our State. Thatís a New Yearís resolution worth making.





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