There has been a lot of big news across the state of Wisconsin this week. On Monday, I attended my first Sheboygan County DNR Spring Hearing; these public meetings occurred simultaneously in every county across the state and enabled citizens to provide input for the policymaking process. During Tuesday's busy Assembly session, I delivered my first Assembly floor speech in support of AB 24, a bill I authored to help level the playing field for mortgage banking customers. (See photo above.) And on Wednesday, the legislature's Joint Finance Committee began voting on improvements to the 2015-17 state budget.
The Joint Finance Committee meets again today. As its members continue their work, you may keep up with the committee's proceedings (as well as many other legislative hearings and Capitol events) by watching WisconsinEye online. I also encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions or concerns.
I hope you're able to get outside and enjoy some beautiful spring weather this weekend!
Joint Finance Committee Begins Improving State Budget
The Joint Finance Committee has begun its formal deliberations on the 2015-17 state budget. Assembly Republicans held more than 100 public listening sessions across Wisconsin over the past few weeks to hear citizens' priorities. Thank you to all of you in Sheboygan County who attended the sessions I held in Sheboygan, Random Lake and Cedar Grove!
On Wednesday, the committee co-chairs released a memo that removed 14 non-fiscal policy proposals from the Governor's budget recommendation. Among these were the Governor's proposal to convert the DNR Board into an advisory council and a plan that would have given counties (rather than municipalities) the responsibility to conduct property assessments. With their removal from the state budget, these issues can be considered more carefully as stand-alone legislation through the normal legislative process.
K-12 Education Budget Update
Over the past few weeks, I have had numerous conversations with Sheboygan County school superintendents and other local administrators who have helped me understand how area public schools have already made difficult budget choices in recent years and how the Governor's budget proposals would impact our county. I sincerely appreciate the input on this topic that many of you have provided to me directly.
The potential good news is that, in the 2013-15 state budget, the legislature significantly increased K-12 funding above the Governor's request. Although it is still too soon to forecast how things will ultimately play out, there is a similar desire in the legislature this time around to reduce the impact of the Governor's proposals.
One issue that we in the legislature have been discussing is the challenge of ensuring that state monies are distributed fairly and to the point of need. While our county has been making hard choices, some other school districts appear to have a surplus. As we work through the challenge, I want to ensure that your tax dollars are being used appropriately. There is no higher priority for the state of Wisconsin than providing an excellent education for our children!
Video Clip of My First Assembly Floor Speech
Tuesday's Assembly floor session was a special one for me! I am very appreciative of the widespread bipartisan support that my first bill, AB 24, received throughout the legislative process. The bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.
Other legislation that moved forward this week included a ban on the manufacture and sale of "microbeads" (tiny plastics that have been proven to pollute the Great Lakes), the establishment of new penalties for falsely claiming military service and the authorization for private companies to provide online instruction for drivers' education similar to public school classes.