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Joint Finance Committee
Over the last two
weeks, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) started
voting on specific items in Governor Scott Walker’s budget
proposal. To date, the committee has saved taxpayers $9.7
million in general purpose revenue (GPR) and $19.5 million
overall. We have reduced 26 positions. We learned this week that
the Transportation Fund balance has improved by $73.5 million.
The JFC, met on Friday, April 17, 2015 and Wednesday, April 22,
2015. During these two days, the following actions were taken:
Property Insurance Fund – The Governor’s original
proposal would end the program for local governments to
purchase property insurance through the state. Our motion
delayed the elimination of this fund for two years so that
local units of government will have time to find alternative
insurance and plan for potential increases in costs, which
may average as much as 45%. The current program is operating
with a multi-million dollar deficit and has been mismanaged,
creating a large liability for the state. (4/17/15)
• Anti-Fraud Support for Entitlement Programs – Added
$250,000 to assist county-level governments to implement
anti-fraud measures for entitlement programs such as
FoodShare. It is estimated that the state and federal
government will recover $18 for every dollar invested in
fraud investigation of the entitlement programs. (4/17/15)
• Fish & Wildlife Account – I supported a motion to
require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to study
and address the imbalances in the Fish & Wildlife account.
This account, which is funded by fees from hunting and
fishing licenses, is operating at a $3.5 million deficit due
to a declining number of hunters. (4/22/15)
• Hunting & Fishing License Fees – No changes were
• Vintage & Antique Tractors – I authored a motion to
change the vehicle registration requirement for vintage and
antique tractors so that they may travel on state highways
to participate in parades and tractor club events. Many
vintage tractors are retired from agricultural service, but
continue to be a valuable historical attraction throughout
our state. Current law makes it illegal to drive these
tractors on state highways. This change in vehicle
registration requirements protects owners of these vehicles
from illegally operating on their way to share agricultural
history. We can continue to see Allis Chalmers, Minneapolis
Molines, Farmalls, John Deere, Oliver, or any other favorite
tractor in parades.(4/22/15)
• Lower Wisconsin State Riverway – Oversight of this
organization was moved from the Department of Tourism to the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) but the organization
will maintain budget autonomy. (4/22/15)
• Kickapoo Valley Reserve – No changes were made.
• Military Commercial Drivers’ License – Waived the
fee for this license. (4/22/15)
• Car-Deer Kills – Funding was maintained for the
program to remove deer roadkill from Wisconsin roadways.
However, the source of the funding was changed and the DNR
is now required to report on the program’s effectiveness and
offer recommendations. I have some concerns over the
mismanagement of the funds and the cost per deer collected
throughout the counties. The following table includes the
counties in the 17th Senate District as well as other
counties throughout the state as a comparison. (4/22/15)
Car-Killed Deer Collected, Cost by County and Cost per
Deer for Fiscal Years 2013-14
||Cost per Deer
|Brookfield, City of
*Source: Legislative Fiscal Bureau
Executive Summary of the budget, as well as full details, please
here for a printable version of this update.
This week, the State Senate was in session. The following bills
are bills that I supported and were passed in the Senate:
Senate Bill 80 & Assembly Bill 122
Utility Vehicle Weight Exemptions
law enables local authorities to establish weight limits on
roads during different seasons to prevent damage and
deterioration to the roadway. For example, during spring months,
weight limits are imposed because road surfaces and foundations
are softer than in the winter and summer, making them more
susceptible to damage.
SB 80 and AB 122 create an exception to weight limitations for
vehicles used by public utilities and telecommunication
providers when they are responding to an emergency or service
I supported this proposal because it removes obstacles for rapid
response to repair power outages in our communities. Heat,
light, power and water are necessary and important to the health
and well-being of the people of Wisconsin.
Senate Bill 59 & Assembly Bill 56
University of Wisconsin (UW) System Remedial Coursework
Currently, the UW System tracks students who need remedial
coursework before enrolling in college-level classes. The most
common remediation necessary is in English and mathematics.
Remediation extends the time and expense for attending college.
According the UW Board of Regents, 1 in 5 students enrolling
within the UW System requires remedial classes in math or
English. UW-Platteville reports that 38% of students require
remedial classes in math.
This bill requires the UW System to identify high schools from
which more than six students are required to take remedial
courses. It requires a report to the legislature and the State
Superintendent, whom will circulate the data to all state school
boards. In order to protect the identity of individual students,
the UW System is prohibited from disclosing specific names. The
general identification of high schools and reporting is intended
to provide data so that we can address trends in remediation and
improve the aptitude of students from specific high schools to
increase college-level readiness.
In the District
Wisconsin Local Employment and Unemployment Estimates
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) estimates of unemployment and
employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties
in Wisconsin. The estimates include revisions for February 2015
and preliminary estimates for March 2015.
The following table shows the local unemployment rates from
March 2014 and March 2015 for the counties in our district.
*Source: Department of Workforce Development
*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this
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