Returning Money to the Taxpayers


Earlier this year the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released their most recent estimate indicating a projected budget surplus of about $818 million. This is great news because it indicates our economy is strong!

Anytime we have a budget surplus we are required by state statute to deposit one-half of that surplus into the state’s Rainy Day Fund. With this upcoming investment, our Rainy Day Fund is projected to reach about $1 billion. Our economy is strong and we are using that strength to grow our Rainy Day Fund in case of an economic downturn.

In addition to investing in our Rainy Day Fund, the legislature passed a bill that would use a portion of the projected surplus for three things:

  1. Reduce the individual income tax
  2. Provide a personal property tax cut
  3. Pay off $100 million of general fund borrowing

Since 2013, Legislative Republicans have returned a surplus to taxpayers three other times. When taxpayers overpay their state government, they should get the money back. 


Simplifying the Commercial Building Process

Under current law, most commercial building plans are reviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) before construction may start. Unfortunately, contractors throughout Wisconsin have recently been experiencing a serious backlog with the plan approval process at DSPS.

With the current backlog at DSPS, contractors have been seeing an increase in the timeline for their plans to be reviewed by the department. Although the department’s goal is to approve plans within four weeks, over the last construction season contractors were experiencing timelines of ten to twelve weeks or longer.

That is why my colleague Sen. Roth and I introduced legislation last week that would reform this approval process. On Wednesday we had the opportunity to testify on Senate Bill 820 in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade. This bill would make three key changes to the review process:

  1. Require that fees paid for plan reviews be submitted by the time a review is scheduled, and provide that 50% of the fee is non-refundable.
  2. Determine what building projects need to be reviewed by DSPS based on the size and general purpose of the building, exempting certain single story commercial buildings based on volume. Buildings with certain intended uses or occupancies would not be eligible for the exemption, including schools and healthcare facilities.
  3. Only require plumbing plans to be reviewed by DSPS if the project will have 26 or more planned plumbing fixtures.

With these exemptions from the DSPS review process for building/plumbing plans, the plans would still be supervised by an industry professional, such as an engineer, architect, designer or licensed master plumber.

Our goal is to eliminate red tape and ensure our Wisconsin builders can get to work this summer, while continuing to ensure commercial building plans are safe.

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Modernizing Respiratory Care in Wisconsin

Yesterday the Assembly approved a bill I authored with Sen. Testin to reform the certification process for Respiratory Care Practitioners (RCPs). AB 558 provides simple reforms to bring our state statutes in line with current industry practices. The need for Respiratory healthcare is incredibly important, with instances of respiratory conditions such as asthma, COPD and lung cancer having increased in recent years.

The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk. I look forward to seeing these important reforms become law!

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