|I would be
happy to arrange a capitol tour for you. Call my office at
(608) 266-0703 for more info.
unsubscribe, please send an email to
with ‘unsubscribe’ in the subject line.
Summarizing the State Budget
The Wisconsin Legislature passed the 2015-2017 biennial budget
and it is now bound for Governor Scott Walker’s review, veto pen
and signature. As a member of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC),
I have spent the last six months studying the details, making
tough decisions and advocating for the needs of the 17th Senate
District and the people of Wisconsin.
While I know not all of our actions were popular, I believe that
we made fair decisions based on our resources, projected
revenues and all of the needs of the State of Wisconsin over the
The State Budget process is not easy. I didn’t expect it to be.
Every resident of our state has their own view of our priorities
and it is a challenge to fairly allocate and manage our
resources to answer the diverse voices in our state.
When it is all said and done, I am proud of our work. This
budget has less bonding (borrowing) than any budget in the last
three decades. We froze property taxes and University System
tuition. We restored funding for K-12 education and allocated an
additional $100 per pupil in the second year of the biennium.
Wisconsin has now seen three budgets in a row that do not
increase our property or income taxes!
In addition to these major elements, following are other
positive things we were able to do in this budget:
Transportation - We reduced bonding from $1.3 billion to
$500 million. The core of the Zoo Interchange project in
Milwaukee will be completed, but the third phase will be
delayed. We also decided that an additional $350 million in
bonding could be available at the discretion of the JFC.
Especially important for the 17th Senate District this summer
– we changed vehicle registration requirements to allow vintage
and antique tractors to travel on highways to participate in
parades and tractor club events and maintained funding for the
program to remove deer roadkill from WI roadways.
Education – We added $200 million to K-12 education
funding, restored the $150 per pupil aid and added $100 more per
pupil in the second year. More than $10.6 billion is invested
into public education over the next biennium.
Especially important for the rural schools of the 17th Senate
District – we added an additional $8.4 million over the
biennium to Sparsity Aid (qualifying districts would need an
enrollment of less than 725 pupils and a population density of
less than 10 pupils per square mile). We also added an
additional $5 million over the biennium to High Cost
Transportation Aid (qualifying districts would need a population
density of less than 50 pupils per square mile and
transportation costs greater than 150% of the state average).
We expanded the school choice program statewide to provide
parents with choices where they are needed and revised the
program so that education funding follows the child. We gave
school districts the opportunity to employ and license
individuals with a technical background to teach technical
Healthcare – We maintained the SeniorCare program. We
kept Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) local. We
gave Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) the opportunity to
upgrade and be a part of a new, regional system of long term
care which maintains our existing system while we required the
Department of Health Services (DHS) to develop a plan to address
the needs of our aging population with stakeholder input.
We allocated an extra ombudsman for the Board on Aging & Long
Term Care for the State Veterans Home. We added $100,000 to the
Wisconsin Well Woman Program for cervical and cancer screenings.
We required a study and presentation related to consolidating
county and community mental health programs.
We allocated $250,000 for county government to implement
anti-fraud measures for entitlement programs and created a
program for drug testing public benefit recipients.
Especially important for rural health – we provided a
$40,000 grant for advanced life support training to doctors,
physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses
and paramedics in rural hospitals and clinics and we expanded
Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) funding which is intended
to provide supplemental reimbursement for hospitals that serve
relatively high numbers of medical assistance recipients and
uninsured, low-income patients. Most of the hospitals in the
17th Senate District qualify for DSH funding.
Economic Development – We reinvested $250,000 from the
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) into a
revolving loan program for Prosperity Southwest WI to serve
Grant, Lafayette, Green, Richland and Crawford counties and
redirected $12 million to be invested in economic development in
legislative initiatives rather than WEDC programs.
Public Safety – We added a grant for $50,000 per year for
the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department to hire an officer
dedicated to drug law enforcement. We added $630,000 for four
positions in the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office to conduct
officer involved incident investigations. We allocated an
additional $100,000 for the sexual assault victim services grant
Natural Resources & Agriculture – We reinstated the
Stewardship Program and created a sustainable plan in which all
sale of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) land would have a
50/50 split with funds going to Stewardship Program debt service
and the acquisition of new land. The DNR currently has 10,000
acres for sale!
I authored a motion for the state parks account that would
improve the financial condition of the state park system. We
also required the DNR to study ways for the state parks to
increase revenue and manage resources for continued
sustainability. We maintained the roles of the Department of
Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) and Natural
Especially important for the 17th Senate District, we
reinstated the Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System (POWTS)
grant program through the Wisconsin Fund.
Taxes – My goals in leading the discussion of the tax
elements of the budget were fairness and simplification. We
increased the standard deduction for married filers to reduce
the marriage penalty. This amounted to a $21 million tax cut
statewide with $19 million of relief going to couples who make
less than $100k per year! This tax cut impacts thousands of
middle-class families in our state.
We also federalized the deduction for teacher school supplies.
In addition, we created the statewide Achieving a Better Life
Experience (ABLE) Act that allows a family member of someone
with special needs to create a tax-free account for their loved
one with special needs for future expenses.
University of Wisconsin System – We restored $50 million
of the original $300 million cut to the university system. We
froze tuition for two years. We granted flexibilities to the UW
System for procurement while maintaining current UW System
structure. For the 17th District directly – we gave
UW-Platteville the ability to negotiate lease agreements which
is estimated to save the campus $250,000 per year and approved
$15 million for the Williams Fieldhouse addition.
Especially important for the 17th Senate District – We
invested funds to establish the Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage
Trail that will run from Racine to Richland Center in honor of
Frank Lloyd Wright. We allocated $6 million over the next four
years from the Universal Service Fund (USF) for broadband
expansion grants for local communities and maintained current
law for the Local Government Property Insurance Fund (LGPIF)
with a directive to study already completed. We added an $80,000
grant to Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and
neglected children that need representation in court. We
reversed the reorganization of assessment in our state and kept
We restored $1.6 million in funding and 8.6 positions for the
Educational Communications Board for Wisconsin Public Television
(WPT) and Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).
The Bucks Arena – this item was removed from the budget
and will be debated as a separate piece of legislation. I
continue to study the proposal, ask questions and seek input
from the residents of the 17th Senate District. For more
information, please visit
to read more about my analysis of the Bucks Arena proposal.
As my first budget as a member of the JFC, I have a much better
understanding of the process, opportunities and intricacies that
go into crafting the state budget. I appreciated all of the
input, ideas and concerns expressed by the residents of the 17th
Senate District and was proud to be able to bring one of the
Spring Budget Hearings to our district for the first time in
Over the next several weeks, I intend to dig deeper into several
areas of the budget and provide an analysis with more in-depth
detail. Overall, I am proud of our work and will continue to
advocate for the unique needs and priorities of the 17th Senate
District as we prepare for the fall legislative session that
begins in September.
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.
Amendment to Remove Open Records Law Changes from the
I released the following statement earlier this week regarding
the amendment that I drafted to remove the Open Records Law
changes from the budget:
“I am pleased to report that I have authored an amendment to
remove changes to the Open Records law that became part of the
state budget last week. This amendment will be presented on the
floor the Senate as we take up the full budget for a vote in the
I had to make a very difficult choice last week. I had to choose
whether to abandon all of the good parts of the 999 motion by
voting against it – or vote for it and then work to seek an
amendment to withdraw this element individually without undoing
all of the good things that we accomplished.
This decision did not come easy. I supported many good parts of
the overall Motion 999. Several of these items were changes made
to correct and clarify action taken by the JFC earlier this
spring after we heard from constituents throughout our state.
I believe in open and transparent government and have always
responded to Open Records Requests quickly and thoroughly. It
was never my intention to change any sort of internal office
policy on records that can be requested from my office. I remain
committed to transparency in all business that is conducted on
behalf of my constituents.”
This amendment also removed the language that was included in
the budget to make changes to the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS).
In the District
Knee-High by the Fourth of July!
There is an old saying that says corn crops yield a full harvest
if they are “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” I took this photo
of the corn on our farm on July 4th. The corn was definitely
higher than the “knee-high by the Fourth of July,” saying! Let’s
pray for continued good weather….it is still a long time before
the crop is in the bin!
*Senator Marklein on his farm on the Fourth of
Fourth of July Celebrations
I had a great time this past weekend celebrating the Fourth of
July out and about in the district. I started the day off
speaking at the Platteville Veterans Honor Roll Program honoring
World War II and Korean War Veterans. Thank you for having me,
it was a great honor!
*Senator Marklein at the Platteville Veterans
Honor Roll Program
I also walked in the Boscobel and Wiota Fourth of July Parades!
It was great to see so many smiling faces and I look forward to
more parades this summer! We couldn’t have asked for better
weather! I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July, weekend!
Senator Marklein at the Boscobel Fourth of
Unemployment Fund in the Black
Wisconsin’s Unemployment Insurance Program was enacted in 1932
and was the first of its kind in the United States. The program
temporarily provides benefits to replace a portion of wages lost
when an individual becomes unemployed. The program is run by the
Department of Workforce Development and is reflected in the
Unemployment Reserve Fund. Each and every employer in our state
pays taxes toward the Unemployment Reserve Fund.
In 2010 Wisconsin had a deficit in the Reserve Fund of over $1
billion. The fund has steadily improved and now sits at its
first positive balance since 2009. Due to reforms enacted over
several years and decreases in unemployment the Reserve Fund is
now on better financial footing and employers will begin to see
*Source: Department of Workforce Development
*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
other interested citizens and taxpayers. You are receiving this
update because you have either subscribed or contacted Senator
Please Note: If you have contacted the Senator with specific
input or questions, a personal response is forthcoming.
UNSUBSCRIBE: If you would like to remove your e-mail address
from my E-update mailing list, please reply to this message with
the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line.