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 February 16, 2021



I have a few minutes this afternoon between the end of today's Assembly floor session and the beginning of Governor Tony Evers' budget speech and thought I'd share a quick update on a number of active fronts.  Here are five stories that may be of interest to you:


1) The federal legislation that President Trump signed into law in late December delivered nearly $700 million in new federal funding for Wisconsin's K-12 schools.  Ninety percent of it was required to flow through a standard formula.  But our state Joint Finance Committee used the remaining 10 percent (about $65 million) to reward those school districts who have worked hard to remain open for in-person instruction and to incentivize those districts who haven't reopened yet.  In our neck of the woods, the Sheboygan Area School District is receiving a nearly $6 million boost, and I expect that our other nearby districts are also going to see a better boost under this plan than they would have received under the Department of Public Instruction's original plan.



2) I voted earlier today on the Assembly floor to clarify that if you received a Paycheck Protection Program loan or other government grant, it won't be taxable.  Simple as that.  Forgiven PPP loans, state "We're All In" grants, farmer support grants, cultural organization grants... under our bill, these are all nontaxable, and the expenses you paid with the money are deductible expenses as usual.  Congress intended those monies to be nontaxable aid, and we've followed their lead.  As I write this, the State Senate is holding a floor session now; they have received our bill text, and I expect they will send this to Governor Evers before the day is over for his signature.


3) About a week ago, the Legislature passed and sent to Governor Evers a new wide-ranging COVID-19 relief bill.  It included dozens of provisions including $100 million in additional emergency spending authority if needed; extended health insurance coverage requirements; allowing folks in nursing homes to designate an essential visitor; increasing access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who want them and protecting the folks who don't want them; and much more.  Frankly, it was a good mix of good ideas that included something for everybody.  Regrettably, Governor Evers vetoed this package and the new resources it included, so we're back to the drawing board.


4) As I mentioned, Governor Evers will speak shortly to present his budget ideas for the next two years.  I hope he has prepared a responsible plan.  Two years ago, his first budget proposal would have increased government spending by more than 8 percent, and he tried to include big tax hikes and a long list of liberal ideas that he knows Republicans do not support, such as expanding welfare, giving in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants, ending drug testing for welfare programs, and many more.  We already have a decade-long track record of sensible budgeting that has served us well (even through these uncertain times), and it would be unwise to head in a different direction now, just as our businesses and families are recovering.



5) The 2021 Wisconsin State Legislature is more diverse than ever before.  This year, there are more women members and more Black members than in any previous session.  The nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau has compiled some very thoughtful reading on this and other topics of interest in their "History of the Legislature Project" series of reports.  Give these a read sometime!


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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|  |