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




Cameron Park Farmer’s Market
May 9th
May 9-October 31st

Viterbo Graduation
May 9th
Viterbo University Fine Arts
Congrats Grads!

UW-La Crosse Graduation
May 10th
La Crosse Center
Congrats Grads!

Free Yoga in the Street
May 12, 5:30pm-6:30pm
Options Clinic
Bring your yoga mat to Old Towne North! Root Down Yoga Studio will be providing a free yoga session in the street.

Bingo for Women’s Health
May 13, 6pm-9pm
Dewey’s Side Street Saloon
20% of the night’s sales will be donated to Options Clinic

Riverside Family Fun Fair
May 16
Riverside Park
Hosted by the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitors Bureau



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


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

This week, our state was dealt another blow in a series of economic failures. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo indicating that Wisconsin has experienced zero revenue growth since January of 2015.

This is disappointing not only because it showcases Wisconsin's dismal economic state, but it leaves little room for positive changes in the budget. Members of the Joint Committee on Finance have been tirelessly analyzing and amending Walker's slash-and-burn 2015-2017 budget, many hoping that increased revenue would mean fewer cuts.

Unfortunately, because of our Governor's bad budget decisions, our legislators will now be faced with tougher budget decisions. I sincerely hope that members of the Joint Committee on Finance take cues from neighboring states -- like Minnesota and Indiana -- and make smart investments in public education, university education and health care in order to fix our state’s budget mess.

Read on for more information on the budget, as well as important information on recent state and community issues.


Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District





For the past few weeks, the Joint Committee on Finance has held executive sessions to amend the state budget. A few notable changes have been made to the budget in recent weeks.

First, 13 pieces of non-policy items were removed from the budget. These items include a provision to exempt UW research from open records law, a provision to slash the Secretary of State's staff, a provision to convert the DNR board into an advisory council, and more.

 Click here to see a full list on policy items removed from the budget.

This week, JFC members voted against Gov. Walker’s proposal to change the UW System into an "independent authority."

I am happy to see that members of the Joint Committee on Finance have prioritized economic policymaking by removing these unnecessary provisions from the budget. However, there is still more work to be done on the budget if we want to close the $2.2 billion budget hole in our state.

In the upcoming weeks, the Joint Committee on Finance will hold executive sessions to vote on highly divisive proposals such as the cut to the UW System, cuts to public schools and SeniorCare, and the elimination of the Stewardship program.

See future newsletters for additional updates on the progress of the budget.






Environmental conservation is an extremely important issue for Wisconsin residents, as our conservation programs have helped immensely to preserve our abundant natural resources over the years.

In Walker's budget proposal, a number of cuts to conservation programs are proposed. One less publicized cut is a reduction in state funding to recycling programs.

The proposed budget reduces the recycling program's funding level from $19 million to $15 million in the first year of the biennium. This is a shocking drop considering just five years ago the program was funded at $32 million annually. Wisconsin's recycling program has successfully diverted waste from landfills for years. The $4 million cut to the program would force local governments to reduce recycling services -- a negative impact on our environment -- or increase local taxes and fees to fund the program.





This week, May 2-10, is National Travel and Tourism Week! National Travel and Tourism Week is an annual tradition that was established by a congressional resolution in 1983 and first celebrated the following year. This nationwide week of events serves to champion the power of the tourism industry. A wide cross section of travel and tourism professionals work throughout the week to promote the impactful contributions of their markets and organizations to the U.S. economy.

Tourism isn't just about having fun and relaxing -- it's about the economy. In 2014 tourism's economic impact on Wisconsin totaled $18.5 billion. In La Crosse County alone $224 million was added to our economy by direct visitor spending. The importance of tourism on our local economy is why I am happy to serve as Ranking Member on the Assembly Committee on Tourism, and a member of the Governor's Council on Tourism to work to bring attention to Wisconsin's and our area's tourism industry.

The theme of this year's National Travel and Tourism Week is "Travel is____," which allows the travel community to be creative and tailor a theme to their state. How do you define travel? Share your theme on social media using the hash tag #NTTW2015!




On Monday I hosted a legislative listening session in La Crosse with Senator Jennifer Shilling, focused on budget changes to SeniorCare, Long Term Care, IRIS, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Over 60 people attended the listening session, along with Tim Garrity from Western Wisconsin Cares, Audra Martine from the ADRC, Kathie Knoble-Iverson from Independent Living Resources, and other experts on long term care and aging.

One of the most common budget concerns I hear from members of the La Crosse community involves changes to long term care. The listening session attendees made very clear that changes to the program would have direct and significant negative impacts on their loved ones. Thank you to the community members and experts who came to share their information and personal stories.

Changes to Long Term Care, IRIS and ADRCs would have little to no financial impact on the budget, and have yet to be explained by the Governor or Republican legislators. Experts in long term care have asked that -- should changes be made to the program -- a one-year study take place to evaluate the impact of changes.





Legislators float idea to harm Wisconsin's middle class and small businesses

On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Affairs met to discuss the controversial repeal of prevailing wage laws.

Prevailing wage laws help to ensure a competitive rate of pay for public projects -- creating not only a higher quality workforce, but making sure that workers and construction jobs stay in Wisconsin. Prevailing wage laws help keep outside entities from coming into our state and undercutting our local contractors and workforce. Some legislators on the Republican side were hesitant to repeal the law in its entirety. Speaker Robin Vos noted earlier in the month that a full repeal of prevailing wage would be unlikely to pass this session.

During debate, Senator Nass offered a substitute amendment that would serve as a partial repeal of prevailing wage. This amendment would eliminate the prevailing wage for local government only -- with prevailing wage staying intact for state projects.

Today, in a somewhat surprising outcome, the Senate committee voted 3-2 against the bill, with Sen. Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green) voting with committee Democrats against the substitute amendment and final passage. However, in a statement after the vote committee Chairman Nass stated that the bill will continue to move forward in the process even though the majority of the committee voted against passage. Chairman Nass continued to state that the vote was "only a recommendation" and that SB 49 will more forward to the Committee on Senate Organization where it can still be scheduled for consideration by the full Senate.

I will continue to keep you updated on this legislation as it continues through the legislative process.



On Earth Day, I posted a graphic on my Facebook page noting the differences between environmental conservation when Earth Day was founded, and conservation policies today. The post reached over 100,000 people!

I am thrilled to see that my Wisconsin neighbors are standing up for environmental conservation in our state. Thanks to all who are standing up for our valuable conservation programs!

To "like" Jill Billings' page on Facebook, CLICK HERE.


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