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(608)266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |



Travel Wisconsin Free Parks Weekend
June 6 and June 7, all day

This weekend only, there is no charge for admission to any state park, forest, recreation area or trail. At most locations, there will also be special, free activities.

Coulee Region Transportation Study Round 2 - Onalaska

Tuesday, June 9, 5-7 p.m

Eagle Bluff Elementary School

200 Eagle Bluff Court



Coulee Region Transportation Study Round 2 - La Crosse

Wednesday, June 10, 5-7 p.m

La Crosse Central High School

1801 Losey Blvd.

La Crosse


Dairy Breakfast

Saturday, June 20, 6-11 a.m.

Ruedy Farm, W104 Culpitt Rd.

Bangor, WI

Celebrate Dairy Month by enjoying a delicious breakfast at one of our local farms!



State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

Over the past few weeks, I have heard from so many people in La Crosse, who have told me how the proposed budget will affect their family and their livelihood. For some, it could mean cuts to their kids' school, a loss of valuable community programming, or even the loss of their job and income.

It seems at every turn, Joint Finance Republicans are forgetting about the real Wisconsin families these harmful policies will affect. Read on to learn more about last week's Joint Finance Committee decisions, as well as other news from around the state.



Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District





Last week, the Joint Committee on Finance met to discuss budget changes to K-12 education, the UW System, and the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund.

Gov. Walker's initial budget involved a $150 per pupil cut to Wisconsin public schools, totaling approximately $127 million over the biennium. Joint Finance Republicans did not follow through with this proposal, but instead proposed and passed an even more devastating measure for our schools. As part of an omnibus motion on education, Wisconsin's statewide voucher program would be able to siphon off $48 million from schools in this biennium according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Over the next 10 years, this proposal is estimated to cost public schools $800 million.

In April, we heard from Rep. Robin Vos, "if we donít have an accountability system, we're not gonna do statewide school choice." However, without even making an effort to increase accountability, Republican legislators put forth a motion that could siphon money straight from our public schools and deposit the funds directly into unaccountable voucher programs.

Gov. Walker's drastic cuts to the UW System remained in the budget. JFC Republicans voted to cut $250 million from the UW System. With student loan debt reaching record highs, slashing the UW System budget is not the right choice for the future of our state. This cut not only hurts our future workforce, it hurts our current workforce. At UW-La Crosse, this cut will mean a loss of over $1 million in jobs. These are our neighbors, friends and people we see every day in our community, who spend their dollars locally.

Unfortunately, JFC Republicans did not unfreeze Walker's proposal for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, a program that is used to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. Each year investments from the Stewardship program provide jobs across the state, along with billions in revenue. The Stewardship fund took a massive hit to its capabilities in the form of a $15 million cut annually.

The choices Republicans are making in Madison will have real consequences in our communities.

The Joint Finance Committee will meet next week to take up the final portions of the state budget -- including how to fund transportation and the contentious Milwaukee Bucks stadium. By state statute, the budget is supposed to be signed into law by June 30th. Joint Finance needs to finish their work, the bill needs time to be re-drafted to reflect changes made by Joint Finance Committee, the Assembly and Senate must have time to review, debate and vote on the bill and then it reaches the Governorís desk for possible vetoes and his signature.

Teacher Licensing

As part of the JFC Republicans' omnibus motion on education, qualifications to acquire a teaching license in Wisconsin were severely loosened. The text of the motion specifically created a "points" program that would allow DPI to grant a teaching license. To get a teaching license, an applicant would need a total of 100 points. Possessing a bachelor's degree in a technical subject would automatically give the applicant 100 points -- and in order to receive a license, an applicant must have a minimum of 25 points in both industry experience and pedagogical experience. However, the more concerning determinations include a provisions which state "for industry experience in a trade or technical field, five points per 40 hours worked up to a maximum of 90 points," and "for an internship in a trade or technical field, 25 points." According to this type of point system, an individual could get a teaching license with a few months' technical experience -- and still no formal education or significant teaching experience.

In general, this means that any individual possessing the vague "industry experience" -- even without a formal education -- could teach grades 6-12 in our state. For our schools, creates the potential for completely unqualified individuals teaching our children.

Education standards have been slowly slipping in our state over the years as Republican legislators continue to prioritize the funding of unaccountable private voucher schools, a reduction in state testing standards, and now a fall in qualified educators.

Our children should be our state's first priority -- and with more than 75 percent of students in public schools, our state should logically be devoting the necessary time and resources to public education.






Republican members of the Senate Committee on Health passed the controversial 20-week abortion ban bill this week. This bill would make it impossible for a woman to get an abortion in the state after 20 weeks "postfertilization" (a term not used by medical professionals). Termination of pregnancy this late in pregnancy is very rare -- and is only considered in cases that involve severe fetal anomalies where or a serious risk to the woman's health. These are extreme medical cases. In these circumstances a physician needs to be able to present facts and counsel their patient and the mother needs to be able to consult with family and faith community to decide what is best for her. In no way should politicians be inserting themselves in this decision.

The bill was extremely controversial as it does not contain exceptions for rape or incest, life of the mother, or even situations where the child will not survive. To be clear, elective abortions are not legal in Wisconsin after the 20-week mark. Therefore, this legislation would only affect those who require an abortion for medical purposes.

Although the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, The American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Wisconsin Medical Society oppose this bill; the Senate Health Committee passed this legislation out of committee and is expected to vote on this bill on the Senate floor next week.

Click here to learn more about the debate and hear from our local physician, Dr. Merkitch.





June 6 through 13 is Wisconsin Bike Week! Celebrate Bike Week by getting out with family and friends and enjoying La Crosse's many parks and trails.

As part of Wisconsin Bike Week, members of the Wisconsin Bike Federation are holding a "Ride to the Loggers," where La Crosse residents are encouraged to ride their bikes to Copeland Park and stay for the 7:00 p.m. Loggers game Thursday, June 11.

There will also be a Bike Rodeo and Neighborhood ride on Sunday, June 7 starting at 12:00 p.m. at the Hogan Administrative Building.

And finally, join the Bike Federation at the Bike Week closing ceremony, held at the Cameron Park Farmerís Market from 4:00pm to 6:00pm Friday, June 12 when you can enjoy the beautiful outdoors and bike with bike federation leaders and local legislators.

Click here for more information on La Crosse bike week events.






National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual celebration held for those who have survived cancer, and a day to provide support to those recently diagnosed as well as their families. On National Cancer Survivors Day thousands gather across the globe to honor cancer survivors and to show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be fruitful, rewarding, and even inspiring.

The National Cancer Survivors Day Foundation provides free guidance, education, and other cancer-related events in communities. Through NCSD, the foundation works to improve the quality of life of cancer survivors by raising awareness.

Click here to find out what you can do to support cancer survivors.






This week, I sent the "Safe Harbor" bill in to receive a bill number. I have been working diligently on this legislation for quite some time, and am so thankful for the help of Representative LaTonya Johnson, and the co-sponsorship of 45 other legislators.


I had a "ball" last week throwing out the first pitch at the La Crosse Loggers' baseball game! I threw out pitches with Caleb (representing the Scouts), and Corry (representing Mayo Blue Dragon Boat Race). Thanks for having me Loggers!





The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is holding a second round of public meetings regarding the future of transportation in the Coulee Region. If you would like to add your opinion or hear about the project, I encourage you to attend one of the two meetings next week.

Here are the details:
June 9, 5-7 p.m.
Eagle Bluff Elementary School Gymnasium
200 Eagle Bluff Court
Onalaska, WI 54650

June 10, 5-7 p.m.
La Crosse Central High School, Room 124
1801 Losey Blvd
La Crosse WI, 54601

Click here for more information on the project.



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