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 April 23, 2021



Back by popular demand: please allow me to highlight a few matters that deserve your attention in a second April edition of "Cheers and Jeers."  (If you missed the first April edition, or if you're a new subscriber, every e-newsletter I've ever published is accessible online here.)


CHEERS to everyone in Wisconsin who is making use of the opportunities to make your voices heard as the Legislature crafts a new two-year state budget.  This week, the Joint Finance Committee held one public hearing under the Hodag Dome way up in Rhinelander (pictured above); then we held another hearing the next day at UW-Stout in Menomonie.  Another already occurred in Whitewater, and another virtual-only hearing will occur next week, too.  CHEERS also to the hundreds of folks who are already submitting the budget survey questionnaire that I mailed recently.  Keep 'em coming, please!  If you'd like to save a stamp, you can complete the survey online at www.repkatsma.com and click "2021 Budget Survey."  It's really valuable to hear directly from you!


JEERS to Attorney General Josh Kaul's refusal to fight back against the federal government's action to block tax cuts in our state.  Here in Wisconsin, your state legislature has cut taxes by more than $13 billion over the past decade.  The median family has saved more than $2,000 in income tax cuts alone during that time.  But Democrats evidently can't stand it: in a new federal law last month, President Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats absurdly prohibited state legislatures from cutting their own people's taxes in their own budgets for the next three years!  It's ridiculous; it's unconstitutional; and, possibly worst of all, when we directed Josh Kaul to fight for our taxpayers, he publicly refused.  Hopefully all the other states' attorneys general who actually are fighting back in federal court will succeed.


CHEERS to UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone for speaking out against taxpayer-funded student loan cancellation.  Blank pointed out that it is perfectly reasonable for borrowers to be responsible for paying for an experience that benefits themselves; Mone questioned whether the great expense to be borne by taxpayers is realistic.  As for me: I'm proud of the work we've done in recent years in Wisconsin (such as freezing in-state tuition) to keep college affordable in the first place; as Chancellor Blank herself stated, 57 percent of Madison students graduated last year with no debt at all.




JEERS to Governor Evers for vetoing all 11 separate standalone bills crafted by the Legislature to put $3.2 billion in federal funds to work right away.  As I explained in another recent newsletter, that's your money; it's almost here; you should have a say via your representatives and senators in deciding where it goes; we promptly proposed a set of ideas that enjoy broad bipartisan support; but he just couldn't bring himself to say "yes."  Let's dive a little more deeply into what he said "no" to:


  • Assembly Bill (AB) 232 would have sent some of the money right back to you in the form of a 10 percent rebate on your property tax bill.  The Governor said "no."


  • AB 236 would have sent $150 million to nursing homes and assisted living facilities (where about half of COVID-19 deaths occurred) to increase worker pay, make building improvements and integrate into the statewide health information exchange system.  The Governor said "no."


  • AB 237 would have deposited extra money into the Unemployment Reserve Fund to make sure that the taxes paid by employers don't increase later this year.  The Governor said "no."


  • AB 238 would have delivered $2 million per county, plus $2,000 per road mile for every city, village and town, to make road improvements.  The Governor said "no."


  • AB 243 would have delivered $61 million to replace lead water pipes, reduce water pollution, improve agricultural water management, replace contaminated wells and help counties test well water.  The Governor said "no."  He vetoed this bill on Earth Day, April 22.


The Governor's clear message here is that, yet again, he intends to have the only say in the matter of how (and, for that matter, when) to put your federal tax dollars to use.  Many of the bills included items that he and other Democrats have supported in the recent past, that Republicans can and do agree upon... but I guess he wants to take all the credit.


Finally: CHEERS and MORE CHEERS to the Speaker's Task Force on Racial Disparities who, after eight months of dedicated work on a tough set of issues, have published the first half of their recommendations.  The 32-person commission brought together Republicans and Democrats, police, faith leaders, schools and more.  Their deliberate, thoughtful efforts have resulted in a list of ideas that are being widely hailed as a breakthrough.  A foundation has been created for bipartisan legislation to advance soon.  Well done!


Best wishes on your weekend!

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Office of Representative Terry Katsma
State Capitol, Room 306 East
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0656
Rep.Katsma@legis.wisconsin.gov|  |