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September 15, 2017
    

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Iowa County Fair

Wrapped up county fair season with a visit to the Iowa County Fair where I purchased a chicken from Dana Hanson at the livestock auction. 

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 Proud to Vote Yes on this Budget

I am proud to vote yes on this budget. Following months of deliberation, I believe the budget deal passed by the State Assembly is a good deal for Wisconsin, however, I am not without my concerns. This job requires compromise. While there elements of this budget that are not perfect, we must see the ways by which we stand to benefit in Southwest Wisconsin and around the state.

When we began the budget debate earlier this year, I made a decision to prioritize K-12 education. In order for this budget to receive my vote, I wanted to see a significant investment in our public schools. I believe this budget does just this. This budget includes an increase of $639 million for public education. This school year, public schools will be receiving an additional $200 per pupil. Next year, they will receive an additional $204 per student for a total increase of $404 per pupil over the next two years.

To make sure we were making the right decision for our schools, I sat down with several of the superintendents in my district to get their thoughts. They were supportive of the funding increase and asked me to vote in favor. The $639 million increase is the largest K-12 increase in the history of our state. This is something we can be proud of.

UW-Platteville received a significant investment of $78 million to construct and improve two buildings on campus. The construction of Sesquicentennial Hall and renovation of Boebel Hall will make UW-Platteville an ever more attractive institution to obtain a degree in an in-demand field.  These investments in STEM education will greatly benefit our workforce and employers as demands for science and engineering graduates continues to rise.

With the number of seniors living with dementia expected to double over the next twenty-five years, I put forward a motion to fund and expand our dementia care specialist program. Approved by JFC, the motion grows the program from 19 to 24 specialists over the next 2 years. These specialists provide support to families and individuals affected by dementia. Services like financial and care planning help the family avoid costly institutional care and remain together.

We didn’t stop there. The Joint Committee on Finance also approved a $100,000 matching grant for the historic Monroe Arts Center after the organization raises $100,000 in private and corporate money. These funds will be used for an expansion of the facility as it continues to develop passions for the arts in our young generations.

Residents of the 51st Assembly District are passionate about the environment. The approval of my budget motion to restore funding for land and water conservation staff is a step towards ensuring a clean and sustainable future for our state.

Recently, rural Wisconsin has been watching the construction of urban highway projects while our roads continue to deteriorate. The transportation portion of this budget is not perfect, but it makes good progress, especially for our rural communities. An increase of 12.9% in transportation aid for counties and an 8.5% increase in aid for municipalities ensures that our local roads are not forgotten. An additional $10 million for local bridge maintenance and construction will go a long way towards repairing necessary infrastructure. These are great first steps but the root of our transportation problem is a lack of revenue. This concern is partially addressed with the creation of a tolling implementation study to assess the effectiveness of a plan to bring tolling to Wisconsin.

At the end of the day, this budget has the lowest transportation bonding level in ten years. I’m happy to see that we have committed to living within our means and only building what we can afford. It is my hope that our next budget brings with it an adequate revenue stream to fully address our shortfalls but for now, we’re headed in the right direction. 

 

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Wisconsin Biofuels Association and Wisconsin Corn Visit Madison

Erik Huschitt, Kurt Koller, Doug Fredrich, Jason Coplein, Nicole Wagner, Jenna Lee, and Mike Berget visited my office on behalf of the Wisconsin Biofuels Association and Wisconsin Corn on Wednesday to discuss Wisconsin agriculture and the manufacture of Ethanol in our state. Thank you for visiting!