February 2nd, 2018


I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2018 skills competition hosted in West Bend by Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin, where top apprentices in trades such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing and HVAC demonstrated their knowledge and skills in hopes of representing Wisconsin later this spring at the national level.  There are some very fulfilling career opportunities available to hardworking candidates such as those who competed in West Bend last week!  They really demonstrated some fine work; click here to check out some of the media coverage of the event.


As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions.  Best wishes on your weekend!


Record-High Investment


Lately I've been seeing some graphics making the rounds on social media and elsewhere that aren't telling the whole truth about Wisconsin's record-high state funding for public education.  I want to set the record straight.


The 2017-19 state budget law, now in effect, increased state aid for K-12 education by $639 million, bringing the total amount of state funding for both fiscal years to $11.5 billion.  That's a record high.  This particular budget targeted some of the increase toward specific needs such as access to technology, rewarding excellence in teaching and improvements in mental health care for students.  Other parts of the funding increase applied equally to every student in the state; a typical classroom of 20 students received more than $12,000 in new funding from the "per-pupil increase" alone.


And we're not done yet.  I am a coauthor of Assembly Bill 835, which passed swiftly through committee in the past few weeks and is headed soon for the Assembly floor.  This bill provides low-spending school districts (including several in Sheboygan County) with the ability to increase their own support for their local schools while still providing taxpayers with the power to keep costs in check.


Don't be misled!  Even though property taxes are lower today than they were in 2010, and even though there is no longer any state-level property tax at all, and even though Wisconsin's overall tax burden is lower than it has been in more than 50 years, our schools are supported with more state money than ever before!


Something for Everyone!


The latest Wisconn Valley News bulletin (an e-newsletter dedicated to the transformational Foxconn development project now underway) is available online by clicking here.  Of note: many project permit applications have been received; preliminary road improvements have begun; and the newsletter states that its next issue will include a schedule of when 2018 bid opportunities will be available to local businesses.  Be sure to enter your e-mail address at the top of the newsletter page to subscribe to the Wisconn Valley News directly!


Got the winter blues?  Need to get outside?  There are several candlelight skiing and hiking events coming up at state parks and other public properties across the state over the next few weekends.  With snow in the forecast, it might be a great time to give one of these a try!


Tax season is upon us.  Did you know that, of all the identity theft complaints filed in Wisconsin in 2016, fully 75 percent of them involved tax identity fraud?  Take steps to protect your personal data; report any suspected fraud to the IRS and to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR); and use this online tool to check instantly with DOR whether a 2017 tax return has already been filed using your identity.


Apply now for 2018 Specialty Crop grants!  Wisconsin's Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) administers federal funds to make grants available for the promotion of specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables, nuts, herbs and more.  Click here for program details and application instructions; nonprofit and other agricultural organizations are encouraged!




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Room 208 North, State Capitol ● PO Box 8952 ● Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0656  ●  Rep.Katsma@legis.wisconsin.gov  ●  www.repkatsma.com