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Joint Finance Committee
Increasing the funding for K-12 education has been my top
priority during budget deliberations this spring and I am proud
to announce that the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) restored
funding for $150 per pupil in the first year of the biennium and
added an extra $100 per pupil in the second year for a total of
$200 million in additional investment. Overall, $10.6 billion of
the state budget is dedicated to funding for public schools.
This investment accounts for 63% of all school-related spending
In addition to general school investment increases, the JFC
expanded the school choice program statewide to provide parents
with choices and creates a program in which funding follows the
As the Senator for the 17th Senate District, I had concerns
about the impact of statewide school choice on our rural school
districts. I did not want our local schools to suffer
financially for issues in urban school districts.
The program created in this budget establishes a funding
structure in which the funds for children follow them to a
private school from their district of residence. In other words,
the child’s district of residence pays for the voucher. Funding
for school choice is not distributed across all of the school
Another provision of the statewide school choice expansion
requires participating private schools to perform an annual
financial audit and requires that an independent auditor must
also review any concerns raised in the private school’s
management letter. This requirement will encourage private
schools to seriously consider whether participation in the
school choice program aligns with their goals and priorities.
As promised, the JFC restored the SeniorCare program in the
state budget. I supported our efforts to maintain this program
that has been very helpful to many residents of the 17th Senate
I was also proud to support a motion to reinvest $250,000 into a
revolving loan program for Prosperity Southwest Wisconsin, which
grows business in Grant, Lafayette, Green, Richland and Crawford
counties. These funds were originally allocated to the Wisconsin
Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), but due to the failures
of the WEDC, we redirected funds already intended for revolving
loans to a local organization with proven success.
The Grant County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC), led
by Ron Brisbois, has successfully managed 40 revolving loans and
has grown their internal loan program from $160,000 to $1.3
million over the last 16 years. The GCEDC requested these funds
on behalf of Prosperity Southwest Wisconsin and will work with
their surrounding counties to seek opportunities to invest in
business and grow jobs.
Also related to economic development, the JFC created a drug
testing and treatment program for citizens who receive public
benefits and unemployment compensation. Several local employers
have shared frustrations that they are actively hiring workers,
but that many applicants can’t pass a drug test as a condition
of employment. Addiction is becoming a barrier to reentering the
The intent of this provision of the budget is to help our
citizens to overcome addiction and destructive behaviors in
order to get back to work and contribute to our society. Public
benefits such as FoodShare and Unemployment are meant to provide
a safety net to help Wisconsinites through tough times. They are
not meant to replace a paycheck. We need to do everything we can
to support and encourage our citizens to return to gainful
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and do not
hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need
assistance with any state-related matters.
In the District
Belmont Lions Club 60th Anniversary!
Earlier this month, the Belmont Lions Club celebrated the 60th
Anniversary of their Charter (February 9, 1955). The Belmont
Lions Club was sponsored by the Shullsburg Lion Club and has had
many decades of service to the Belmont Community and surrounding
areas. I was pleased to have been asked to create a proclamation
for this event and congratulate them on their dedication to the
*Seated (L to R): Lion President MJ Dachelet,
Lion Bev Pelton, and Lion Lee Pelton.
Back (L to R): Lion Board Member Derek Dachelet, Lion Secretary
Julie Abing, Lion 2nd VP Jeff Schaetz, Lion Ned Keyes, Past Lion
President Jim Voigts, and Lion Treasurer Cheryl Cushman.
University of Wisconsin System
A few years ago, my fellow CPAs in the State Assembly and I
discovered a fund balance in the UW System of around $1 billion.
At the same time, campuses were raising tuition and fees on
students while they maintained a large, unrestricted reserve.
At the time, I was a member of the Legislative Joint Audit
Committee. We then directed the UW System Board of Regents to
prepare and approve a plan to address the fund balances and make
the balances more transparent. In a report released late last
year, UW System detailed the plan on how to address specific
expenses, pay for emergencies, and funds to be used at the
discretion of the individual chancellors.
Three years later, I have again requested that the UW System
provide me their most recent balance sheet that includes the
cash reserves. It should be noted that the UW has had a tuition
freeze the past two years. The following table summarizes the
most recent data regarding the tuition account balances, after
two years of tuition freezes:
Student Fees –March 31
*Source: UW System
Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is expected to act on the
University of Wisconsin Budget next week.
As many of us have the day off on Monday, let us not forget
those who have sacrificed their lives for the freedom we enjoy
today. I am especially grateful to those from the 17th Senate
District that have given the ultimate sacrifice in the line of
duty. Drive safely and remember those that have given their
lives for your freedom.
*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this
legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State
Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with
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