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Phone: (608) 266-8530

Email: Rep.Vorpagel@legis.wi.gov

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Room 210 North

P.O. Box 8953

Madison, WI 53078

Our floor seating in the Assembly is a little different so far this session. Members are spread throughout the floor and in the galleries. As Caucus Chairman, I'm in charge of attendance and leaves for our caucus as well as pairing votes for those who are absent. I also get a little desk.

Protecting Small Businesses and Budget Address

Businesses both large and small were hit hard over the last year both by the pandemic and the shutdown and restrictions put into place. Thankfully, we were able to get nearly a quarter of a billion dollars out to small businesses around the state to help keep them afloat. That doesn't mean there aren't still businesses struggling to survive.

That's why we will be taking action tomorrow in the Assembly. We will be passing legislation to prevent these struggling businesses from getting hit with a surprise tax bill on the PPP loans and other grants they were given as part of COVID-19 relief. When Congress passed the second relief bill last December, they fixed the tax issue at the federal level. Today, we fixed the tax issue at the state level to make sure businesses can continue working to recover.

Governor's Budget Address

Last night, the Joint Legislature convened to accept Governor Evers’ second budget proposal. Unfortunately, the Governor chose not to address the body directly or with a live speech, but with a pre-recorded video.

Unlike other states that are in a financial hole, we are starting in a strong position financially as a state. Thanks to common-sense reforms and fiscally responsible spending levels the Legislature set in the past, Wisconsin currently enjoys a budget surplus over $1 billion. This allows us to put together a budget that does not result in tax increases, works to invest surplus dollars wisely, and helps our state continue to recover from COVID.

In the weeks leading up to his Budget Address, we reminded Governor Evers that his budget proposal should not simply be a tax and spend liberal wish-list like it was two years ago. As we get closer to the end of this pandemic we need a budget that is balanced and moves us forward. Unfortunately, with an initial look at his proposal last evening, things like increasing taxes, expanding welfare, and eliminating reforms that have saved Wisconsin billions of dollars are not going to accomplish that goal.

That doesn’t mean there are not areas where we can work together. I appreciate that the Governor is looking to put more resources towards mental health services, broadband, and devoting more funding to small business assistance. Over the next few months, I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee to help craft a budget that will keep Wisconsin heading in the right direction.

State Affairs Committee Update

Last week, after hearing testimony in the State Affairs Committee, we voted both AB 28 and AB 32 out of Committee unanimously. They are now available for a full debate and vote by the Assembly.

AB 32 will help the restaurant industry by allowing "To-Go" alcohol sales.

AB 28 seeks to change the definition of "multijurisdictional" to include any other "county or nation" for the purposes of the state lottery.

Vaccine Update

As vaccine distribution continues, both Manitowoc and Sheboygan County updates are a helpful resource for those with questions about local information and availability.

Manitowoc County COVID Information and Vaccine Information

Sheboygan County COVID Information and Vaccine Information

Sheboygan County also provided an update letter as of February 10th. You can read it here.

Putting Kids First

Last week, the Joint Finance Committee approved a plan for federal education dollars provided to the state by Congress. The funds total nearly $700 million, with a portion of them (around 10%) to be utilized at the discretion of each state.

The Joint Finance Committee approved a plan for that portion of the funds, which makes $65 million available for school districts that have been open for in-person learning. The plan will look at the entirety of the 2020-21 school year to determine which districts are eligible. It will act as a reward for those who've had in-person learning and also provide an incentive for those working towards it.

Wisconsin schools have received more than $1 billion in additional aid since the pandemic began. It is important that we get Wisconsin students back in the classroom. It can be done safely and effectively as many districts across the state have shown. This plan rewards their hard work and dedication and incentivizes others to follow.