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

(608) 266-5780
Toll Free: (888) 534-0095




American Southwest Exhibition
Description: On his explorations across the American Southwest, photographer Chris Hood captured the beauty of locations in Utah and Arizona from angles that would be typically unseen by most human eyes.
Date: Wednesday, Feb. 25 - Sunday, April 4.
Location: The Pump House Regional Art Center

La Crosse Bike Swap
Description: Come to the swap to re-home your dusty bikes, parts, and accessories. Any bikes unsold at 2 pm must be picked up  or they  will be donated to Logan Bike Works.
Date: Saturday, Feb. 28, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Location: Logan Middle School


Did you know that Wisconsin is one of the top producers of honey in the nation? With over 63,000 honey colonies in the state, honey makes a significant contribution to Wisconsin's economy.

Here are a few little-known facts about Wisconsin honey:

  1. In 1977, the honey bee was declared Wisconsin's state insect
  2. In 2012 alone, Wisconsin produced 4.35 MILLION pounds of honey – the same weight as 290 adult elephants.
  3. Honey is among Wisconsin's third largest group of exports, which
    also includes dairy and eggs.


Friends and Neighbors,

Welcome to my biweekly newsletter. This week's newsletter will focus on the many new provisions of the Wisconsin State Budget.

On February 3, Governor Walker announced the state budget, which included a number of funding cuts to public programs such as education, healthcare, and transportation. The proposals were met with criticism on both sides of the aisle, as they could bring unwelcome changes to our Wisconsin neighbors and families.

While the budget proposed by Gov. Walker is only a proposal and will incur some changes, it is increasingly important that legislators work together to combat changes that could be harmful to our working families. Now more than ever, we need to come together to create commonsense solutions, repair our economy, and improve our state.

Continue reading this week’s newsletter for more information on the state budget.

Best Wishes,

Jill Billings
State Representative
95th Assembly District



Gov. Walker's State Budget: Top 5


Last week, Governor Walker introduced the 2015-2017 state budget. The budget involved a number of steep cuts to public programs, and some surprising new rules. A few of the cuts -- public education and higher education -- had been announced before the budget was released, and gained a significant amount of public opposition.

Here are the top five budget provisions to note:

1) Funding for Human Trafficking Prevention

I and a number of Wisconsin legislators have been reaching across the aisle to raise awareness to the problem of human trafficking in our state. In this budget, Governor Walker has proposed a $2 million investment in the services for children who are forced or coerced into human trafficking. Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery, and must be stopped in Wisconsin, in the United States, and worldwide. I am pleased to see that the proposed budget makes provisions to help victims of this crime. This is a good start.

2) Higher Education

The UW System is a bright example of Wisconsin's educational strength. Year after year, it produces skilled students, unmatched research contributions, and billions in economic activity for the state. However, Gov. Walker has proposed to cut UW System funding by $300 million over the next two years. Combined with previous funding cuts, this would result in a more than $600 million cut to the UW System. If this proposal were adopted, the UW System would be at its lowest percentage of state funding in system history when adjusted for inflation. In most scenarios, the university could absorb the drop in funding by raising tuition costs. However, the UW System is under a tuition freeze for the next two years. Therefore, it is likely that serious cuts will need to be made in each UW System school to stay afloat.

In addition to cutting resources, the budget includes giving the UW System more autonomy by giving control of the universities to the UW Board of Regents. This action nullifies existing statutes pertaining to the universities, and makes it possible for tuition to increase significantly after the 2-year freeze.

3) Public Education

Public education would undergo a number of drastic changes, should this budget be adopted. Not only has Gov. Walker proposed a funding cut -- a drop in $150 per-pupil -- but he has incorporated a number of provisions that would limit local control of schools. In the budget proposal, Walker utilized similar concepts as were present in the controversial AB1 bill. These concepts included increasing funding to voucher programs; creating an 11-person unelected, state-appointed school accountability board; and allowing schools to choose among several accountability tests, making apples to apples comparisons impossible. The measures suggested in AB1 received negative public feedback from students, teachers and administrators -- yet Gov. Walker chose to include the controversial proposals in his budget.


4) Transportation

Transportation spending changed dramatically in this proposed budget. First, Walker proposed $1.3 billion in bonding for transportation projects, kicking the can down the road. Wisconsin is facing a $1.8 billion deficit, and yet Governor Walker keeps spending on the state’s credit card.

Transportation proposals also include cutting $2 million from the Transportation Alternatives Project, and eliminating the Complete Streets and Community Sensitive Design programs. The Transportation Alternatives Project provides for local communities to invest in bike and pedestrian projects like local planning and infrastructure. Similarly, the Complete Streets program creates safe bike and walking paths throughout Wisconsin. These programs are necessary for encouraging smart and safe transportation alternatives in our state.

5) SeniorCare

Over the past few months, you may have heard about Governor Walker's rejection of federal Medicaid dollars, which would have saved Wisconsin an estimated $206 million over the next two years. Throughout the state budget, and especially in health care, we can see the effects of healthcare funding rejection. Under this proposal, SeniorCare would be cut by $15 million -- a 40 percent cut. Additionally, seniors would be forced to apply for Medicare part D, which would cause them to pay more out of pocket expenses on prescription drug costs.

SeniorCare in Wisconsin is once again at risk.

I urge you to stand up for the rights of our seniors by signing our "Save SeniorCare" petition.

Sign the petition!


February is American Heart Month


February is the American Heart Association's "American Heart Month." Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

However, heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

On Feb. 6, Wisconsin legislators got together to raise awareness to women and heart disease, on the American Heart Association's "Wear Red Day." This day was meant to bring attention to the growing issue of heart disease and heart-health issues in women.

To learn more about American Heart Month, and how you can raise awareness to heart disease, visit:


Expanding Internet Access to Rural Areas


This week, I introduced my first legislation of the 2015-2016 session. LRB-1505 is a bill that extends the 2013 Broadband Expansion Grant Program to allow school districts, technical colleges, and public library boards to apply for grants to increase high-speed internet access in their communities.

In his 2015-2017 budget proposal, Governor Walker allocated an additional $6 million from the Universal Service Fund to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. Under the 2013 Broadband Grant Expansion Program, eligible applicants for grants included profit or not-for-profit businesses, a telecommunications utility, or a city or town board. The new bill would build upon the existing program by allowing additional entities to apply for grants.

In today's technology-driven environment, internet access is essential for economic development, education, public safety, and more. The Broadband Expansion Grant Program was created two years ago to increase opportunity and revitalize communities by providing high-speed Internet access to previously underserved, rural areas.

Expanding broadband service to rural areas is necessary to foster growth in our state. In some areas, the local library, school or technical college serve as a center of the community -- and may be better suited to provide Internet access. This bill simply allows these locations to apply for grants to serve their communities.



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