Rep. Warren Petryk: A Look Back at the State Budget

This time last year the governor signed the legislature’s state budget, which set into place the spending plan for Wisconsin over the next two years (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2021). The budget that was signed reflected the priories of the hard-working people of the 93rd Assembly District and included a thoughtful, responsible budget that held the line on taxes while investing in education and providing more resources for healthcare and our local roads.

These investments in light of the current pandemic are proving more valuable than ever. We were able to deliver these needed funds while also providing a $500 million income tax cut focused on the middle class.  Furthermore, the budget included the largest investment in our local K-12 schools in Wisconsin history and helped keep college affordable by freezing tuition at the UW System.

What does that responsible budgeting mean for our area?  Over $22 million in additional state aid directed at schools in the 93rd Assembly District! Over $46 million in broadband grants throughout the state that have helped fund fiber optic expansion into Dunn and Pierce Counties. Additional Assistant District attorneys positions in Dunn and Eau Claire Counties along with increased public defender pay to ensure adequate access to our court system for fair justice. In addition, we cannot forget about the $93 million that was allocated to the UW-Eau Claire Science Hall building to ensure our area continues to be a national leader in undergraduate research.

As Chairman of the Assembly Workforce Development Committee, I was pleased that we continued our investment in our workers, which is needed now more than ever. It included fully funding our state's Youth Apprenticeship Program to help over 5,000 students connect with job experiences while still in school. It also added $25 million more dollars than the Governor originally proposed for the Wisconsin Technical College System.

The budget made strategic investments into our healthcare workforce and to hospitals to improve access and affordability. The budget increased funding to nursing homes by $74 million.  It also included $91 million in increased funding for personal care workers, which will increase their hourly wage. Moreover, the budget continued funding for the Healthcare Stability Plan, which lowered insurance premiums by 10%.

The budget made sure to invest in fixing our roads by providing the largest increase in new revenues in a generation.  This included providing an increase in local road aids while having the lowest level of borrowing since 2001.  This new funding will help repair STH 25 in Dunn County, provide improvements to highway TT in Eau Claire, and give nearly $1 million to fix 450th Ave in El Paso, among many more road projects.

The budget is a win for Wisconsin. These prudent decisions, like keeping spending within our means and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money, will help Wisconsin as we move forward in addressing the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.