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



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


(608) 266-5780
Toll Free:

(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

For the past few weeks, legislators have been traveling across the state to get Wisconsinites' input on the budget. With busy public hearing weeks winding down, we in Madison are now getting ready to debate the many controversial budget proposals.

Since the budget was introduced in February, I've heard from a number of my constituents, concerned about specific proposals. I think it is vitally important that all Wisconsinites voice their opinions on this budget, but that they also be mindful of one fact: the budget proposal is not the budget.

From here, the budget will be debated by the Joint Finance Committee. After Joint Finance has debated and altered the budget, it will then head to the Assembly and Senate, and finally to the Governor for signature. I am hopeful that, based on the public's reaction, our legislators will carefully consider and amend this budget.


Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District




This week, Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee toured the state to discuss Walker's budget. During the press conferences, members spoke on budget provisions that were overwhelmingly opposed during public hearings. Cuts to SeniorCare and the proposed changes to the Department of Health Service's long-term care system, including FamilyCare, IRIS, and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC), faced harsh opposition by the public and families served by these programs.

I spoke at the media event in La Crosse on Wednesday to highlight the most divisive issues in our community. I want to offer my thanks to the hundreds of people who came to our local listening session and shared their opinions on the governor's budget. Through public listening sessions and conversations with my constituents, I've found that members of our community are most concerned about cuts to health care programs and public education -- K-12 and University System. Each of these areas of cuts will have direct and tangible impacts on their families.

Wisconsin legislators, like me, must listen to their constituency and work to remove these harmful, unnecessary proposals from our biennial budget.




This Monday, April 13, the Conservation Congress is scheduled to hold a public hearing in La Crosse County. I will be attending this year's meeting, as I always find it to be a great night to hear from people in our area on views ranging from hunting to the protection of natural resources.

The protection of our state is of vital importance to the people in La Crosse County. This year, the Governor's proposed budget cuts to important environmental programs pose significant issues for Wisconsin's natural resource preservation. Here are a few of the cuts and changes that could impact our state's environment:

Stewardship Cuts

One of Gov. Walker's more harmful environmental proposals involves freezing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, set up in 1989, 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. In La Crosse alone, groups like the Mississippi Valley Conservancy regularly rely on Stewardship funds to protect public lands.

If passed, Gov. Walker's proposal would effectively end the Stewardship Program by establishing a moratorium on Stewardship land purchases until the level of debt services is reduced to $1 per $8 of total costs for land purchases.

Kickapoo Valley and Other Environmental Concerns

The Kickapoo Valley and its residents have been through quite their fair share of history with government intervention. Many residents were displaced by the 1962 Flood Control Act, which authorized the La Farge Lake Project and ended prematurely in 1975, leaving an unfinished dam across the valley. But more recently, the Ho-Chunk Nation has reclaimed the land and the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board has worked ardently to maintain a strong citizen voice in discussions regarding the Kickapoo Valley.

As part of the his biennial budget proposal, Gov. Walker has planned to turn control of the Kickapoo Valley over to the Department of Natural Resources. Unfortunately, Governor Walker does not recognize the board's viability or the improvements the Kickapoo Valley has enjoyed under the management board's control. Governor Walker has undermined the residents, primary benefactors and stakeholders of the Kickapoo Valley. This proposal is made even more harmful by the further plans to cut the DNR's science staff, largely responsible for ensuring clean air, water, and land across the state.

This is one of a number of unnecessary and harmful alterations to Wisconsin land management in Governor Walker's budget. Other budget items of concern are:

  • end citizen oversight through the natural resources board
  • eliminates 18 science services positions for the DNR
  • increases fees for using state parks, trails, and lands
  • cuts important recycling programs
  • cuts funding to the Complete Streets and Transportation Alternatives Program


Over the past couple of months, I have received numerous contacts from my constituents about Gov. Walker's budget. This budget impacts every family, worker and citizen of Wisconsin in different ways. Each person I've talked to from La Crosse has told a different story of how these budget cuts will impact them.

With that in mind, the Wisconsin Assembly Democrats launched the "SAY NO to the Walker Budget" petition. Through this online petition, you can register your opposition to the whole or individual parts of the budget, and you can tell your legislators why you are opposed to this budget.

Sign the petition HERE.



Part of Gov. Walker's budget proposal includes slashing funding from the Educational Communications Board, which oversees the funding of Wisconsin Public Television (WPT) and Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). These public media outlets are known statewide for providing high-quality programming and objective reporting to communities around Wisconsin.

If Walker's budget passes as-is, $5 million will be cut from the Educational Communications Board. Outside of WPR and WPT, the ECB has far-reaching impacts. The ECB is in charge of statewide emergency alert systems, such as severe weather and amber alerts.

It is estimated that half a million Wisconsinites enjoy locally-produced shows and services from WPR and WPT, and approximately 1.2 million K-12 students use multimedia resources created by the ECB.

While cutting funding from the ECB may not shut down public radio and television stations, with less funding it will become much more difficult for WPR and WPT to provide the same quality of information to Wisconsinites.  I am a strong supporter of our public television and radio, and will stand against any cuts to their services.

The proposed cuts to public broadcasting are not definite at this point. All budget cuts proposed by Gov. Walker are just the first step in a long budget process. From here, the budget is analyzed by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, before it is referred to the Joint Committee on Finance for discussion. To become law, the budget must then be passed by both the Assembly and Senate. During this process, it is likely that there will be amendments made to the budget.





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

On April 1, Republican lawmakers announced their intention to repeal prevailing wage requirements. Prevailing wage laws allow skilled workers on publicly-funded projects to be paid at a competitive rate, set by the state.

Proponents of the repeal argue that, because of the prevailing wage, publicly-funded projects cost the state more. However, opponents counter that the higher cost to the state occurs because the prevailing wage retains skilled workers. Without a prevailing wage, the state could employ low-cost or outsourced labor, hurting our small businesses, middle class families, and job market. Without the prevailing wage in place, Wisconsin risks losing its skilled laborers.

After this year's "Right to Work" debates, my legislative colleagues and I had hoped that Republicans' attacks on our middle class workers were over. But unfortunately, that is not the case. Republicans' proposals to repeal the prevailing wage are just another attack on our workers that will further damage our local economies.

Currently, a bill to repeal the prevailing wage has not been introduced. Republican leadership has indicated that the prevailing wage proposal may be incorporated into the biennial budget, exempting the proposal from an individual vote.


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