Happy new year, and happy new session! Earlier this week, my Assembly colleagues and I took the oath of office in a ceremony at the State Capitol and officially began the 2017-18 legislative session. The Bible we used to take the oath is the same Bible that was used in 1836 to swear in Wisconsin's first governor, Henry Dodge, and the Assembly oath of office book that I signed (pictured above) is the same one that has been signed by thousands of Wisconsin state representatives since the 1870s. I am humbled and honored to have been entrusted with the duty of representing you!
In my most recent newsletter, I shared some exciting news about Masters Gallery Foods' plans for a big expansion project in Oostburg. There is more exciting news this week: Senator Devin LeMahieu and I had the honor of introducing the first bill of the new legislative session, Senate Bill 1, that is going to help make this project a reality and bring hundreds of jobs to our community.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions; my staff and I will do our best to assist you. Stay tuned for Governor Scott Walker's State of the State Address that will be broadcast live on Tuesday afternoon, January 10th, at 3:00 PM. Best wishes on your weekend, and stay warm!
The standing committees of the state legislature have recently been announced, and I'm really looking forward to getting started. In the 2017-18 session, I will serve as chairman of the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee; as vice-chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; and as a member of the Housing and Real Estate Committee, the Insurance Committee, the Workforce Development Committee and the newly formed Federalism and Interstate Relations Committee. I'll also serve on the State of Wisconsin Building Commission and will continue in my present role on the Governor's Council on Financial Literacy. There are countless opportunities to keep making Wisconsin a better place to live and work, and I'm eager to work with my colleagues to begin making progress on these subjects right away!
Tax Burden on the Decline
In 1994, Wisconsin's state and local tax burden was the third-highest in the nation (as ranked by the U.S. Census Bureau). The most recent numbers available, from 2014, show that Wisconsin is now 16th. And we are no longer among the top 10 in any category such as property tax, income tax or overall tax. Our efforts to hold the line on property taxes and cut income tax rates are showing real results and have reduced the overall burden on taxpayers.
Even so, we have some challenges ahead to work toward sustainable solutions, especially for our transportation system. Two new resources have recently become available that are helping the legislature think through possible options: this set of reports from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, and this testimony from a December 2016 hearing of the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Now that more of the facts are becoming known about the conditions of Wisconsin's roads and the state of transportation spending and funding, we are in a better place than we were even a few months ago to make decisions that address our state's challenges.