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Weekly E-Update

Dear Neighbor,

Welcome to my latest e-update. Here is a summary from the past week as your State Representative. 

As always, previous updates are available on our website and social media. 

Please contact my office with any questions or concerns.

In solidarity,

Robyn Vining    

State Budget Vote This Week

This week, the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate voted on the proposed 2021-23 Biennial State Budget with provisions passed by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance.

I voted against this budget, because it fails to fund the priorities of the people of Wisconsin, especially when it comes to education. 

Here are highlights from my floor speech:

  • In 2011, my family & I attended our first protest. I will never forget the feeling of my son’s feet kicking the back of my seat on the way to Madison. At the age of 7, he was deeply upset because actions by the legislature and the former Governor may result in him losing his school librarian.
  • As Republicans have once again underfunded education, I am reminded of how personal our actions as a Legislature are - to the people and the children back home. The people of Wisconsin have consistently asked for public education to be fully funded.
  • The budget fails to fund our schools during a critical time. A failure to fund the state’s priorities is a failure to lead. It is a failure to lead in a time of crisis, it is a failure to lead in a time of opportunity, and it is a failure to lead in a moment that quite frankly deserves the rejection of partisan bickering.
  • Federal COVID-19 relief funds are not to be used to fund long-term school budgets but instead they are for COVID-19 relief purposes, and to help get districts back on track after this difficult year.
  • These past 15 months have been scary and anxiety-inducing for so many Wisconsinites. The Legislature cannot abandon our children, teachers, administrators, and parents during this crucial time. Our schools need sustainable long-term funding.
  • It is dishonest to say this budget hits the long-awaited ⅔ funding since  the caps are not lifted so the money can be spent. It is dishonest to say that this funding is school funding, and it’s property tax relief, when we know it is only property tax relief --and with the projected budget surplus, we can and should do both.
  • Wisconsin has the most significant surplus of our lifetimes - so we can afford to fully fund special education. We can’t continue to file our money away to the rainy day fund - but refuse to use it when it is raining.
  • Public schools are led by, taught by, attended by, Democrats and Republicans and Independents and Libertarians. Schools aren’t partisan and school funding should not be partisan and we all -- every member of every party -- deserve better than this.
  • My vote today is with deep sorrow that over the last decade, relationships in this building haven’t improved, the voices of the people of Wisconsin remain clear but ignored by the majority party, and the budgets still aren’t good enough.
  • Our public schools are windows for our children’s imaginations. Our teachers are heroes. Public education is an economic engine in this state. And our schools deserve better.

Watch my full speech HERE.

Democrats introduced 8 budget amendments that include provisions from Gov. Evers’ proposed budget such as providing needed investments in our K-12 and higher education systems, BadgerCare expansion, mental healthcare funding, Healthy Women Healthy Babies, public transit, updating our unemployment system, and increasing access to affordable childcare. Republicans voted to block every single amendment.

Read my press release on the passage of the budget HERE.

Watch my speech in support of the amendment proposed by Democrats to the budget bill that would fund Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs fully HERE

Since the budget was passed by both the Assembly and Senate, it now goes to Governor Evers, who can either sign the budget bill as-is, veto the budget bill in its entirety, or exercise his partial veto authority, which allows the governor to strike individual words and numbers from legislation that appropriates money (such as the budget).

The Assembly also voted on bills such as:

  • Assembly Bill 406, which would maintain the current lowest tax rate (Schedule D) of the unemployment insurance compensation (tax) rates through the end of 2023
  • Assembly Bill 407, to create a Legislative Human Resources office
  • Assembly Bill 408, allows a metropolitan sewerage commission for a sewerage district including a first class city (currently only the city of Milwaukee) to finance and construct a dredged material management facility for the Milwaukee Estuary Area of Concern at a location in the city of Milwaukee
  • Assembly Bill 191, which would eliminate the personal property tax

Along with real estate property taxes, personal property taxes have long been utilized in Wisconsin as a significant source of local revenue. In the Wisconsin statutes, “all goods, wares, merchandise, chattels and effects of any nature or description having any marketable value and not included in real property” have long been assessed to generate revenue for local government services. However, there has been increasing scrutiny on the personal property tax because of its negative impact on small businesses. This source of revenue has grown increasingly tenuous as numerous exemptions have significantly cut the amount of revenue that can be collected through these taxes. In recent years, exceptions such as the Dark Store Loophole have allowed large businesses to avoid paying their fair share in taxes while small businesses suffer. This has led to small businesses covering an increasingly large portion of the personal property taxes paid.

AB 191 aimed to eliminate the personal property tax, and beginning in 2022, local governments would be paid the equivalent amount of revenue that the personal property tax would have generated. This goal of eliminating the personal property tax, while also holding local governments unharmed, was supported by both Democrats and Republicans alike.

However, in an attempt to rush this legislation through, the Republican bill authors of AB 191 drafted a bill that had several major unintended consequences. While we were successful in getting a number of amendments passed at the last minute to address problems with the bill, not all of them were addressed.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) identified that AB 191 as drafted, would allow manufacturers located outside of Wisconsin to exploit another state tax credit program beyond what was intended in the bill resulting in significantly more lost future revenue to the state. I joined my Democratic colleagues in requesting that the bill be returned to committee so the bill could be fixed, but this request was rejected by legislative Republicans.

I feel that the personal property tax was poorly designed and an ineffective way to collect revenue. In recent years, the biggest obstacle to repealing the personal property tax has been the loss of personal property tax revenue for local government and the resulting tax shift that would occur from raising property taxes on homeowners and businesses to make up the difference. However, our state currently has enough revenue to repeal the personal property tax, and provide the funding to local governments to backfill their loss in revenue. This commitment would need to continue in future state budgets to prevent property tax hikes, which is why it is important to ensure that a bill intended to repeal the personal property tax doesn’t result in unexpected revenue loss to the state. Because of the flaws that remained in AB 191, I voted against it when it came to the floor. My office is currently working with other legislative colleagues on a fix that would address these remaining issues with the bill should it be signed into law, or passed as part a properly-drafted version of the personal property tax repeal later this session if it is vetoed by the Governor.

Gender Neutral Parents on Birth Certificates

This week Governor Evers and the Department of Health Services announced that Wisconsin parents will now be able to be identified with gender neutral terms on birth certificates. Starting July 1st, parents can now choose to be referred to as a parent as opposed to a mother or a father. 

Read the full statement HERE.

Independence Day

I hope you all have a wonderful and safe Independence Day weekend!

State offices will be closed on Monday July 5th for the holiday. As always, you are welcome to contact us when offices are closed and we will respond ASAP. 

Tour of America’s Dairyland

Sunday was an exciting night closing out the Tour of America’s Dairyland in Wauwatosa Village! The race was in the Washington Highlands on Saturday night, and the village on Sunday night. It’s always exciting to have the tour finish in Wauwatosa!

DNR Summer Tips

The DNR recently sent out an update with some useful information I would like to pass along as we head into the holiday weekend:

  • Do not use fireworks in state parks or forests. Be careful using fireworks during this dry summer period, as exploding fireworks pose a risk of starting a wildfire.
  • July 3rd is Plastic Bag Free Day - Use reusable bags when shopping to reduce waste! Plastic bags oftentimes cannot be recycled and take 1,000 years to degrade.
  • If you are planning on visiting one of Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks, you can check their capacity before you go on this website.

 COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As of July 2nd, 5,610,067 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Wisconsin and 50.4% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose, with 47.2% fully vaccinated. 

En español, AQUI¿Tiene preguntas sobre la vacuna contra el COVID-19? Llame al 844-684-1064 (llamada gratuita)

For more information about where you can get a vaccine, visit the DHS website HERE.

For more information about where to get vaccinated in Waukesha County, visit their website HERE.

For more information about where to get vaccinated in the city of Wauwatosa, visit their website HERE.

For more information about where to get vaccinated in the city of Milwaukee, visit their website HERE. En español AQUI

COVID-19 Case Update

For daily updated information on COVID-19 in Wisconsin, visit the DHS website HERE.

14th District Counties

Milwaukee - 107,534 confirmed cases
Waukesha -  44,154 confirmed cases

*Changes over day prior


Forward together,

Rep. Robyn Vining


Contact Us: 

State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708 

PH: (608) 266-9180
TF: (888) 534-0014

Email: Rep.Vining@legis.wi.gov 
Web: www.vining.assembly.wi.gov 

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