Happy June Dairy Month!

We take our dairy industry pretty seriously here in Wisconsin. As if June being Dairy Month wasn’t exciting enough – today is National Cheese Day! Click on the cows below to see our video honoring National Cheese Day. 

Budget Update

The budget process is moving right along and if the committee is able to remain on schedule, our executive sessions (meetings where we vote on pieces of the budget) should be done by mid-June. This means the budget could be passed through the Assembly and Senate by the end of the month and on Governor Evers’ desk by June 30th – the end of the fiscal year.  


On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) voted on pieces of the budget related to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), and Department of Natural Resources (DNR).



The committee voted to increase resources for vocational rehabilitation services and provided additional services. This program exists to assist individuals with developmental disabilities to obtain, maintain, and improve employment opportunities. I believe it is the right thing to do to focus on making sure everyone who wants a job can get a job and this program helps to do just that. We provided an additional $1 million annually for the Youth Apprenticeship Program – quadrupling the Governor’s proposal, and gave DWD more flexibility to administer the program by ensuring that funding will be available in the future. We voted to increase the per pupil youth apprenticeship payment from $900 to $1,100 per student. 


I was proud to support expanding eligibility for the Hire Heroes program by eliminating the requirement that a veteran be within seven years of discharge from the military to be eligible. The program was created in 2017 under Governor Walker and is designed to help veterans find employment.



Republicans continue to invest in Farmer Mental Health – we provided $200,000 to support farmer mental health assistance programming. Sadly, the suicide rate among male farmers is 43.2 per 100,000 (this is 58% higher than the national rate among men which is 27.4 per 100,000). In 2020, DATCP provided 252 vouchers to WI farmers to seek mental health services. That is an increase of 38.5% since 2019. The need for mental health services continues to grow in farming communities. This program literally saves lives and I am pleased that we are able to continue funding it.


Meat Inspectors are in high demand these days. We invested more funds to increase the number of meat inspectors to ensure timely and comprehensive inspections. This will ensure the safety of Wisconsin meat products and increase the confidence of consumers in Wisconsin meat. Every time an animal is processed at a meat processing facility, a meat inspector must be present. Currently there are 66 meat inspectors employed by the state. They inspect and license 247 facilities in Wisconsin. We saw a massive back up in meat processing during the pandemic and the demand for meat to be processed has not slowed down. This additional funding will make a huge difference. 


Wisconsin is ranked first in the country in the production of cheese, cranberries, snap beans, dry whey, and corn for silage. Second in milking cows, milk production, and oats, and third in potato production, sweet corn, carrots, and green peas. Despite all this, Wisconsin ranks an astonishing 17th in total agricultural exports. We voted to set a benchmark for DATCP to increase exports by 25% for Wisconsin milk and dairy products, meat industry, crops, and crop production. By investing $2 million in the Wisconsin Initiative for Ag Exports, we will increase the value of these products and help Wisconsin farmers compete with producers in other states.



Wisconsin has seen a significant decrease in volunteer fire personnel. Piloting a program to target and recruit eligible citizen volunteers will help Wisconsin rebuild the ranks for volunteer firefighters.  This week JFC invested $100,000 in the Youth Volunteer Firefighting Training Grants. I hope this will make a difference and encourage more young people to pursue a career in firefighting.


The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) aids healthcare professionals, pharmacies, law enforcement agencies, and public health officials to work together to reduce the misuse, abuse, and diversion of prescribed controlled substance medications. By supporting this program with additional funding and staff, we are helping slow the prescription drug epidemic in the state by making a significant investment.



We supported purchasing additional technology equipment and body cameras for DNR wardens by providing $145,100 over the biennium. We also approved increasing the waterfowl stamp fee as requested by waterfowl hunters. This money helps to fund projects for wetlands and migratory habitat areas. Finally, we provided additional funding for boating safety and enforcement, local and state ATV/UTV trails, and snowmobile trail condition tracking systems.


Next week in the Joint Committee on Finance…

The committee will be in executive session on Tuesday, June 8th and Thursday, June 10th at 1:00 p.m. both days. You are able to watch from home on https://wiseye.org/live/.


We will be voting on the following items:

  • Department of Military Affairs
  • Department of Administration – Division of Gaming
  • Building Commission
  • Building Program (Capital Budget)
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Corrections (Adult Institutions, Community Corrections, Adult Sentencing, Juvenile Corrections)
  • Department of Children and Families – Juvenile Justice
  • Circuit Courts
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court
  • District Attorneys
  • Public Defenders
  • Department of Justice
  • Wisconsin Legislature
  • Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection – Environment
  • Dept. of Natural Resources (Stewardship; Forestry and Parks; Waste, Remediation, and Air; and Water Quality)

Free Fun Weekend


Wisconsin is home to 49 state parks, 15 state forests, 44 state trails, 84,000 miles of rivers and streams, and roughly 15,000 lakes. This weekend, you can explore all of it for free! Click on the graphic above for more information about how you can take part and explore our beautiful state without paying park fees.