The first of the Capitol's famous tulips are beginning to bloom, officially signaling the changing of the season! This picture is from a previous year, but I think we're only a few days away from being able to take some beautiful new photos just like this one.
I'm pleased to report that the legislature has already made a lot of headway during this budget season. In the handful of executive sessions that have occurred, the legislature has already trimmed Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal (which already includes the lowest total level of bonding in a decade) by a further $19.5 million and eliminated 26 additional full-time equivalent government positions. As revenue updates become available in early May, watch for rapid developments on issues such as K-12 public education funding, transportation and flexibilities for the University of Wisconsin system.
In addition to tulip season and budget season, it's also spring survey season! If you have not done so already, please visit www.repkatsma.com and click on "2015 Spring Survey" to participate in my budget questionnaire. (You may receive a paper copy in the mail as well.) Be sure to check my website often for updates; I also encourage you to follow my updates on social media.
Best wishes on another gorgeous spring weekend!
Accepting Applications: Wisconsin Youth Leadership Forum
The Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) is currently accepting applications from high school students to attend the Youth Leadership Forum.
The Youth Leadership Forum is a week-long leadership training and career awareness program for high school students with disabilities. It will occur July 26-31, 2015, at Edgewood College in Madison. Costs of the program are covered by BPDD.
Application materials and instructions are available online here. Act quickly: applications must be submitted by May 11, 2015 and require letters of recommendation.
Great News for Wisconsin's Economy!
The unemployment rate declined to 4.6 percent in March, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is the lowest rate for our state since June 2008 and much lower than the national number of 5.5 percent. The Department of Workforce Development also reported that the state's labor force participation rate exceeds the national rate by 5.7 percentage points.
The Department of Financial Institutions reported that over the first three months of 2015, the number of new businesses in Wisconsin increased by 5.3 percent when compared to the same time period in 2014.
The housing market in Wisconsin is looking good. The Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA) reported that existing home sales increased by 16.1 percent last month. Home prices are also on the rise: the median sales price increased by nearly 9 percent. WRA officials say that these increases have been driven by low mortgage rates, an increase in family incomes and the prevalence of affordable housing in the state.
Job Center of Wisconsin
More than 83,000 current job openings are posted on the Job Center of Wisconsin website! Of these, more than 40,000 openings have been posted in the past month and nearly 11,000 in the past week. Services are available at no cost to job seekers or employers and are available 24 hours per day. The link to the Job Center of Wisconsin website is always included at the bottom of this newsletter!