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 June 10, 2020


It's that time of year again.  Today is the last day when I may legally send you an e-newsletter until after the November election.  There will still be plenty of work happening in the legislature during the interim (much more than usual, I expect); for instance, we know that adjustments will have to be made to state expenditures in the months ahead to balance the budget in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.  I invite you to follow me instead on social media at www.facebook.com/repkatsma for updates in the meantime.  And my office has remained and will remain open for business; shoot me an email or a call anytime and we'll gladly serve you.


As I sign off, I hope you'll scroll down the page and take a trip with me through the past year.  In these tumultuous times in America, it might be hard to see where we're going next; so let's review for a moment where we've been, where we might have been... and, just maybe, we'll be reminded along the way of some ideas for taking hold of our post-pandemic future.


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June 2020: thankfully, mercifully, COVID-19 no longer presents as acute a health emergency in our state as it once did.  Testing is way up; community spread is way down; and, although the coronavirus illness is no less serious than before, we have learned many ways of coping with its presence and mitigating its contagiousness.  Your government, too, has learned many lessons, and I'm eager to work on ideas to make sure we're as ready as we can be for the future.



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May 2020: National Guard Soldiers from Wisconsin have been deployed for many months in Afghanistan.  A number of representatives chipped in this spring to ship a few goodies from home to the front lines in a land where they have bigger challenges than we have.  Wisconsin has a long history of strongly supporting our servicemembers and veterans, but we have some additional ideas for serving them even more successfully.  Thank you, brave men and women!



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April 2020: the legislature convened, after waiting to make sure you wouldn't have to pay again for emergency relief that your federal taxes would cover, to help ease the shock of the coronavirus outbreak.  The bill passed by a 97-2 vote in the Assembly, 32-0 in the Senate and was promptly signed into law by Governor Evers.  In that same bill, we also provided the Department of Workforce Development with wide latitude to increase staffing in anticipation of an unprecedented demand for unemployment insurance benefits; regrettably, the department has made only limited use of that flexibility and the backlog of claims continues to be severe.  Your calls and emails to my office are heartbreaking; I'll keep doing all I can to advocate for you, connect you with assistance and seek answers from those who have let you down.



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March 2020: Americans have always confronted difficult moments with determination.  For all the difficulty we've encountered due to coronavirus, there have been countless examples of generosity.  Nonprofit, charitable, religious and recreational institutions (and, of course, the people who comprise them) were again the bedrock of our communities when we needed them most, when government couldn't have all the answers.  I look forward to working on policies again in the future that enable these institutions.



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February 2020: Wisconsin's tax burden today is the lowest that it's been in the past 50 years.  We could have done even better: on two occasions during 2019-20, the legislature presented Governor Evers with additional stand-alone opportunities to enact middle-class income tax cuts.  He vetoed them both.



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January 2020: members of the Sheboygan Fire Department and the Sheboygan County Technical Rescue Team were recognized at the Capitol with the Hometown Hero Award (the Assembly's highest honor) for their courage.  I salute all the men and women who routinely accept risk to themselves to serve their neighbors.



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December 2019: everyone in America deserves to feel safe.  These officers of the Sheboygan Police Department helped me understand what they do every day to help everyone be safe and feel safe.  I can't imagine how cutting off their resources, as some are calling for today, would improve their ability to serve you.  They do a hard, often thankless job; I stand with them.



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November 2019: I visited St. Nicholas Hospital in Sheboygan and learned all about how telehealth works.  The Assembly also advanced legislation to treat telehealth the same as in-person treatment in terms of patient coverage and provider reimbursement rates.  We didn't know yet that the coronavirus was coming, but I'm sure glad now that these leaders were thinking then about increasing remote access to health care.



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October 2019: I'm always hopeful that you'll take whatever opportunity works for you to help me understand what you really think and how you'd like me to serve you.  I miss hosting in-person community listening sessions and look forward to greeting you at another one soon.





September 2019: Senator Howard Marklein and I learned during 2019-21 state budget deliberations of a number of obsolete tax laws that remained on the books from years ago.  The law, especially tax law, is complicated enough without keeping pages upon pages of useless ones around.  We were able to repeal 19 pages (many thousands of words in the tiny print that gets published) of Wisconsin law that served literally no purpose any longer.  And I dare say that the coronavirus emergency, which led to many levels of government temporarily setting aside normal procedures across our society, may have exposed many more opportunities to roll back regulations that maybe aren't as useful as they once seemed.



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August 2019: we were smiling at the time because we were enjoying our day at the Fair.  I'm smiling now because that was the same month when we learned that strong 2018-19 economic performance would result in a $320 million deposit into the state's "Rainy Day Fund," bringing it to a record high of about $650 million.  It'll still be a while longer until we know for certain how much we're going to have to adjust state expenditures in response to corona-induced economic harm.  But I'm sure we'll be in a better position than we would have been if not for the sensible budgeting and pro-growth policies of the past several years.






July 2019: when the 2019-21 state budget conversation began, Governor Evers presented a number of ideas that would have fundamentally taken our state in a new direction.  He would have created a nearly $2 billion structural hole by 2021; hiked taxes by the largest amount since 2009; ended school choice for low- and middle-income families; issued driver's licenses to illegal immigrants and given them in-state resident tuition rates at our universities; and so much more.  Instead, we continued to fund our state's priorities in a conservative way.  But for the coronavirus emergency, we remained on a historic path of sustained growth and likely would have continued to generate new budget surpluses.  I know we'll be back on track again before long.



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 |