JULY 10, 2015

State Budget Passes Legislature

This week, both houses of the legislature discussed and passed the 2015-17 state budget bill. The bill will be delivered to Governor Walker for his signature.  

I am proud that we were able to pass a budget that prioritizes the best interests of taxpayers and strengthens our stateís economy. While this budget was tight, prudent fiscal budgeting allowed us to hold the line on taxes and reduce borrowing.

Our children are the future leaders of our state and itís imperative to invest in their educational foundation. With this in mind, we restored categorical aid in the first year of the biennium and increased categorical aid by $100 per-pupil in the second year.  Categorical aid is provided by general purpose revenue, is outside of the revenue limits, and is in addition to general aid.  

In addition to investing in K-12 education, we have reduced the cut to the UW System by $50 million. Our goal was to protect the quality of our stateís university system while increasing educational opportunities and accessibility to Wisconsin students. Itís for this reason that we extended the tuition freeze for in-state undergraduates for an additional 2 years and gave the system flexibilities that they have been requesting for years; flexibilities that will allow them to save a significant amount of money over the biennium.

 We saved SeniorCare so senior citizens will be able to continue to afford their prescription medications. We expanded the Family Care program statewide to allow people with disabilities to have access to important services including self-directed care and Aging and Disability Resource Centers services.

Finally, we have successfully held the line on taxes. This biennium there wonít be any property, income, or sales tax increases. Weíve simplified and streamlined the tax code; this is great news for hardworking families across Wisconsin.

Joint Finance Committee

Each member of the Joint Finance Committee was assigned specific agencies and issue areas for in-depth analysis.  My agency assignments included the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Workforce Development, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).


 I had the opportunity to craft a stewardship compromise which resulted in a more financially responsible and sustainable program that balances two precious resources -- our natural heritage and taxpayer dollars.  Our plan provides for the purchase of the "best of the best" land acquisitions and easements and provides substantial support for local assistance programs and the Ice Age Trail.

Vulnerable populations are better served in this budget. We approved the merger of the Department of Children and Families with community-based Juvenile Justice which will allow for a more coordinated approach and better outcomes for at-risk families. We invested $2 million in services for child sex trafficking victims.  Our budget expands Family Care statewide, a transition that Rock County has asked for on behalf of our frail elder, developmentally disabled, and intellectually disabled citizens.

Worker training opportunities were expanded under this budget. We provided continued funding for the Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training program, various youth and adult apprenticeship programs, and Career and Technical Education (CTE) grants for school districts.  We also expanded the Transitional Jobs program, which provides pathways to employment for noncustodial fathers, to additional communities including Beloit.

There were no substantive changes to WHEDA, although I did have the opportunity to provide input on the Governorís proposed merger of WHEDA with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation which was not adopted in the JFC budget.

I-39/90 Update

I advocated to prioritize the I-39/90 interstate expansion project. I understand the importance of this transportation corridor to public safety, economic development and tourism for the region and the entire state of Wisconsin.  I remain committed to working with the Department of Transportation on this issue.

You can follow the construction schedule and sign up for updates here: http://projects.511wi.gov/i-39-90/

My Capitol office at 306 East is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Update, please feel free to contact me.   

State Capitol Room 306 East- PO Box 8952, Madison, WI 53708
Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967
Email: Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov

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