June 18, 2021

  

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Republican Budget Includes Historic
Middle Class Tax Cut

For the past decade, we have passed responsible budgets with the goal of reducing the tax burden on Wisconsin citizens. Earlier this week, after the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau reported that Wisconsin would see $4.4 billion more than expected in revenues, and so we decided that those funds should be returned to the people. What we've included in this budget is a tax cut larger than what we've been able to do in many years, and will likely be helpful for many families still recovering from last year.

The plan is:

  • Provide a tax cut of roughly $3.4 billion -- building on the over $13 billion in state and local tax cuts delivered by Republican since 2011.
  • Invest in our state's rainy day fund -- ensuring we're in strong fiscal health if faced with an economic downturn.
  • Create a child and dependent care tax credit to help working families make ends meet. 

So essentially, a major part of this is focused on income tax cuts. There are four income tax brackets in Wisconsin that are based on annual earnings. The largest of these brackets is the third level, which includes many working families and individual filers. The tax cut we've included in the budget would lower the rate paid in the third bracket from 6.27% to 5.3%, amounting to a $2.3 billion cut for the middle class. 

The typical family, as a result of this, is expected to see about $900 in income tax relief, and $300 in property tax relief for the typical home. This amounts to around $1,200 in savings for the average family over the span of the two year budget! I'm proud to see this sort of relief going to families and residents in our district, and know it will provide some needed savings in the coming years. 

Historic Education Funding
Meets Federal Requirements

On top of the tax relief, we were also able to achieve our goal of 2/3 funding for our K-12 schools that we long aimed for. Over the last ten years, we've consistently worked to send extra revenue back to the hands of the taxpayers, along with funding our schools at record high levels. I'm pleased that the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has approved this new K-12 funding plan, which includes an estimated 68% in state aid to schools in the second year of the biennial budget. This ends up as an increase of $2,900 per student statewide. 

This increase also meets the federal requirements to receive funding for our schools through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) which totals about $1.5 billion in federal COVID relief funds. The state funding is aimed at maintaining regular service, while the federal funds are to help provide additional supports and services to help our schools and students adapt to the new needs presented by COVID. I'm proud of the hard work done by our JFC members to help come to this funding decision.

Looking Ahead to Next Week's
Assembly Session

Next week, the Assembly will be in session again to vote on a number of election reform proposals that were crafted to help strengthen election integrity in Wisconsin. I've heard from many in the 36th Assembly District on this issue. Combined with the ongoing elections audit the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau is conducting, the following bills are an important step to improving election security and the public's faith in our election results:

  • Senate Bill 205 - Absentee voting in certain residential care facilities and retirement homes
  • Senate Bill 212 - Defects on absentee ballot certificates and certain kinds of election fraud
  • Senate Bill 204 - Absentee ballot applications, unsolicited mailing or transmission of absentee ballot applications and ballots, canvassing absentee ballots and electronic voter registration
  • Senate Bill 292 - Broadcasting election night proceedings
  • Senate Bill 203 - Secure delivery of absentee ballots
  • Senate Bill 210 - Election observers

In addition to a number of election bills, there are three bills I introduced that will be receiving an Assembly vote:

  • Senate Bill 187 - This bill would allow village officers to serve as village employees. I introduced this bill with Senator Felzwkowski after a constituent made me aware that our current statutes prevent someone who is a village officer from being employed by the village. The example shared was that a crossing guard position was open in the small village, and the only person who expressed interest in the position was a retired individual who was also a village board member. Unfortunately, because of state law, that person was not able to apply, and so the crossing guard position went unfilled for some time. This bill extends the provision allowing a town board member to work as a town employee to village board members, as long as their wages do not exceed $15,000 a year.
  • Senate Bill 248 - This bill would make changes to Wisconsin's electronic waste recycling program. For the past decade, Wisconsin's been one of the top states in the nation for electronics recycling, and the state has seen numerous economic benefits from the E-cycle program. I worked in consultation with the DNR to come up with these changes that will help the current E-cycle program function better and provide more clarity to participants while allowing the DNR to collect information to help further improve the program in the future. 
  • Senate Bill 269 - This bill would update the weight limit for utility terrain vehicles (UTVs). We're blessed as a state with many great trails and recreation opportunities. With increasing interest in using ATVs and UTVs in Wisconsin, consumers are looking for more equipped and comfortable machines. Unfortunately, some new UTVs purchased by consumers exceeded the 2,000 lb limit, which presents challenges for Wisconsinites forced to find trail riding opportunities out-of-state. By raising the maximum weight limit to 3,000 lbs, it will let manufacturers and dealers keep pace with what consumers are looking for while making sure folks can stay in-state for their recreation. 
Question of the Week: 
Allow Certain 17 Year Olds to Vote

We're seeing more and more young people getting interested in politics, and it's great to see a new generation step into the discussion. In light of this, a new bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin legislature that would allow certain 17 year old individuals to vote and requiring a referendum on the issue. 

Currently, a person must be at least 17 years old to vote at any election in Wisconsin. However, this bill would allow a person who is 17 to vote at a primary if the person will be 18 on the date on which the election following the primary is held. Because the bill would extend the right to vote to a class of individuals beyond those allowed to vote under the Wisconsin Constitution, the bill would require a majority approval at a statewide referendum after going through the legislature for it to become law.

With the important role that our elections play in our communities and state, I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposed bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Direct Sale of Electric Vehicles

I've heard from many people around the 36th Assembly District in response to last week's question. The chart below represents the responses from constituents to the question as of Friday morning. 

Budget Survey Available Online

I've heard from a number of folks already and have received many paper surveys back. However, if you would like to fill out the survey online you can find it on my webpage:

36th Assembly District Online Budget Survey

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.