My Most Important Job is Listening to Constituents
As an elected official, my number one job is to listen to my constituents and advocate for the people of the 74th Assembly District. For the past four years, my priority has been to bring the thoughts and concerns of Northern Wisconsinites to Madison, to make sure your voice is heard in the halls of the State Capitol.
For the next several months, the governor and legislature will be working together to pass a state budget. This month, the legislative budget committee, the Joint Committee on Finance, will be holding four public hearings and inviting the people of Wisconsin to weigh in with their priorities and concerns. I am encouraged by public participation at these public hearings. Unfortunately, the Republican-led Joint Finance Committee is, once again, not coming up north.
For the past few years, elected officials have rarely traveled that far north, and as a result, Northern Wisconsin has been left out in the cold.
That’s why Senator Bewley and I will be holding budget listening sessions in Ashland, Park Falls and Phillips, and I will also be holding my own in Bayfield, Brule, Hurley, Mercer, Mellen and Butternut. Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes will be hosting a budget listening session in Superior, alongside Northern Wisconsin elected officials.
I encourage you to attend these listing sessions, and if you cannot attend in person, please do not hesitate to contact my state legislative office to share your interest in the state budget process and what this budget means to you and your family.
As for the current budget proposed by Gov. Evers, it is refreshing to see a real commitment to rural communities. The governor is proposing historic investments in broadband expansion grants, increasing total funding to more than $78 million over the biennium. We need high-speed internet to be economically competitive and support our flourishing communities.
The Governor has made a commitment to making healthcare access affordable and has been adamant about accepting federal Medicaid expansion money, which will help address access to quality health care. Right now, medical facilities in the 74th district are struggling. For example, nursing homes in the district have reached out to me with concerns. Due to Wisconsin's low Medicaid reimbursement rate, every month they are wondering if they can remain open. Everyone in Northern Wisconsin should have access to quality health care.
After eight years of kicking the can down the road with bonding debt, the Governor has stated many times that all options are on the table for transportation funding. Right now, 25 cents of every dollar for transportation goes to the bonding debt. Our local municipalities and counties are unable to keep up with maintenance. We have to find a consistent source of revenue.
Gov. Evers is proposing the largest investment in transportation in Wisconsin state history. He’s committed to working with the legislature to raise more than $600 million in new revenues to fix our roads, bridges, and highways and make sure that our transportation fund is sustainable.
The 74th Assembly District includes three federally recognized tribes, and the Governor’s proposed budget is going to invest in tribal initiatives that include education, addiction resources, tribal heritage and elder care for Native American communities throughout Wisconsin. There will be $8 million invested in a 36-youth wellness center to treat opioid addiction, more funding will be allocated to higher education grants for tribal college students, and additional revenue will fund tribal family services and elderly transportation grants.
Furthermore, this proposed budget includes closing tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires who have been taking advantage of our tax system. It is time that we give a break to the middle class, which Governor Evers intends to do with his middle class tax cut.
These are just handful of encouraging initiatives that are included in the proposed state budget, and I’m excited that this budget takes into consideration the needs of rural communities throughout the state, and especially in Northern Wisconsin. I look forward to seeing you at one of the many budget listening sessions!
As always, I am proud and honored to represent you and eager to continue working to move Wisconsin forward. Please do not hesitate to contact my office with comments or questions about any issues relating to state government.