On Tuesday of this week the State Senate Republican Caucus announced our
proposal for the 2017-2019 biennial state budget. The
656 page document
includes all the items already approved by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC),
positions on K-12 funding agreed to by the State Senate and State
Assembly, and proposed Senate positions on all outstanding items.
I am proud to have worked with my State Senate Republican colleagues to
come up with a budget proposal that cuts taxes, puts more state money
into K-12 schools, and increases funding for local roads all while
Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order.
The proposal eliminates three burdensome taxes that will result in real
savings for Wisconsinites. Eliminating the Personal Property Tax,
Forestry Mill Tax, and Alternative Minimum Tax will allow for taxpayers
to keep more of their own hard-earned money while reducing the layer of
government assigned to overseeing those taxing programs.
The State Senate Republican plan invests more than $600 million of new
money into K-12 education and preserves Governor Walker’s proposal to
increase per pupil funding. The increase over each of the two years in the biennium calls for a $200
per student increase for the 2017-18 school year and a $204 per student
increase for the 2018-19 school year.
Three famous “Franks” and me.
Now I’m going to be Frank with you (how could I not be it’s my first
name for goodness sakes) and tell you that the Senate Republican
proposal does include $712 million in transportation borrowing. If you
are like me and hearing the words “state borrowing” make you break out
in a cold sweat I totally understand. However, borrowing for
transportation projects is different than borrowing money to pay the
state’s everyday bills like what Governor Doyle and legislative
Democrats did in the 2009-11 state budget. Wisconsin has always
borrowed money to pay for big transportation projects also known as mega
projects. Mega projects take years to complete and last 30 or more
years. Borrowing for these mega projects makes sense because it allows
for users of highways to pay for the construction over the highway’s
The Senate Republican budget plan
contain any tax hikes, proposals for toll roads, increases in gas
tax, charging drivers per mile usage fee, or
taxing small businesses for using Wisconsin roads with a heavy truck
levy. The proposal keeps Wisconsin’s current road projects on track
while providing increased funding of
12% for county general transportation aid and 8.5% for municipalities
for repair and maintenance of existing roads.
The legislature, along with Governor Walker, have passed three
responsible budgets that have helped turned Wisconsin economy around. The 2017-2019 will be the fourth Republican budget in a row that
provides real tax relief, invests in Wisconsin’s infrastructure and
growth, and funds state government at a sensible and responsible level.
The hard work is paying dividends and the taxpayers of
Wisconsin will reap the rewards.
Remembering everyone wants what’s best for Wisconsin and its citizens.
This gives me hope that the best 2017-19 state budget possible will be
the product of everyone’s hard work.