September 8, 2017




Congratulations to Chissy's Pub and Grille, over in Waldo, on your big award!  Department of Workforce Development Deputy Secretary Georgia Maxwell and I visited Chissy's last week to present owners Darrell and Cindy with their Travel Wisconsin Supper Club Showdown Award... and, of course, to sample a classic supper club dinner and a famous Chissy's Old Fashioned.  Darrell and Cindy have been in business in this location for more than 40 years now!


The legislature's Joint Finance Committee officially concluded its 2017-19 state budget negotiations this week.  Overall, I believe this budget represents a big step forward for our state.  This budget invests in our future, keeps government spending of taxpayer money under control in the present and still leaves the state's general fund in better shape than even the Governor proposed.  Watch for the Assembly and Senate to take action as early as the middle of next week.


As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions; we'll do our best to help you with as many details about this budget as we can.  Best wishes on your weekend!


2017-19 State Budget Highlights


The 2017-19 state budget continues to build on the past several years of reforms and keeps Wisconsin moving in the right direction.  In addition to the progress made during the past several months of committee-level work, there is more good news!


Transportation.  Easily the most difficult budget challenge on the agenda this year, taxpayers should feel confident about several positive developments.  The 2017-19 spending plan will include the lowest level of new transportation borrowing in the past decade; the budget also includes the first new transportation revenue sources in more than a decade.  There will be a new fee for hybrid and electric vehicles; because these cars do not consume as much fuel, their drivers do not pay as much in fuel taxes as most drivers pay.  Together, these two reforms (somewhat reduced transportation spending and somewhat increased transportation revenue) contribute to a transportation plan that is more sustainable in the long term.  Other provisions, such as full repeal of the prevailing wage law, will further reduce project costs in the future.


This budget also guarantees that state-level funding will be in place for the State Highway 23 development project to continue to the full extent allowed by the federal courts.  During the next two years, state funding will pay for rehabilitation work on the existing highway that would have to be done anyway as part of any four-lane expansion project.  Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation is moving as promptly as possible to regain the federal permits (that were blocked by the federal court) that are required for the expansion part of the project to resume.  I appreciate that my colleagues in the legislature agree that the Highway 23 expansion is so urgently needed that we are taking the unusual step of fencing off resources in the state budget for it.


Revenue.  Two weeks ago, I was able to share the unusual good news that your state government had moved to repeal an entire tax (the "Forestry Mill Tax," which is the last state-level tax that comprises your property tax bill).  I can now report the further good news that (1) the tax/license that many retailers pay for the privilege of selling soft drinks will be fully repealed; (2) the state-level Alternative Minimum Tax will be fully repealed; and (3) a big portion of the personal property tax that businesses have to calculate and pay each year on the value of their equipment is going away.  These are some of our state's most complicated and needlessly burdensome taxes; we think there are better ways of doing business.  Further, a measure that I introduced earlier this year will simplify tax filing for many retirees who donate retirement investments to charity.


These simplifications and savings are all possible even though our schools will receive all-time record high funding; even though property taxes will keep trending downward instead of upward; and even though this budget will set aside nearly $200 million in addition to the state's "rainy day fund" that protects taxpayers from economic downturns.  This is real reform!


We're Open for Business!


There has been a lot of good economic news for Wisconsin already this year.  Unemployment rates are near historic lows; labor participation rates are near historic highs; businesses large and small are choosing Wisconsin as the right place to invest in their futures.


There was more good news for Sheboygan County this week.  Governor Scott Walker was on hand alongside MilliporeSigma CEO Udit Batra to announce publicly the company's plans to build a new $64 million production facility in the Town of Wilson, bringing 175 new jobs to our county.


MilliporeSigma is an international life sciences company best known for producing laboratory materials that support other research and biotechnology businesses.  In addition to its Town of Wilson location, the company has major Madison- and Milwaukee-based operations.  (You may be more familiar with the Sigma-Aldrich brand, which has had locations in our area for quite some time; MilliporeSigma acquired Sigma-Aldrich in 2015.)  During his visit to Sheboygan County this week, Governor Walker pointed out that, with such a broad international footprint, the company had plenty of options for choosing where to invest in its new facility; that it chose Sheboygan County, with plenty of skilled labor, chemical manufacturing technology and infrastructure is a testament to the investments that Wisconsin has been making in the development of our workforce and our pro-growth business climate.


I'm proud of Wisconsin!  This is the perfect place to live, work, grow and invest, and that's because the people who live and work here already care so deeply for our communities and our future.  Keep up the great work, Wisconsin!




If you wish to be excluded from future mailings, simply e-mail me and ask to unsubscribe.

Room 208 North, State Capitol ● PO Box 8952 ● Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0656  ●  ●