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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Happy Spring! Thank you for your interest in the April edition of Community Connections.

In last month's newsletter, I gave a brief overview of Governor Evers' 2021-2023 proposed state budget. This month, we will dive a little deeper into how the budget invests in Wisconsin’s children and families.

All of our children, regardless of their zip code, deserve the opportunity to thrive, and I am filled with a sense of hope that we have a governor who knows that what's best for our kids is what's best for our state. 

As always, please let my office know what state and community issues are important to you!


Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Locating COVID-19 Vaccine Providers

I am thrilled to have a governor who has taken bold action toward addressing the COVID-19 public health crisis in our state. As a result of his actions, Wisconsin is currently leading the nation in vaccine distribution. As of April 5, 2021, everyone age 16 and over is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. To locate a vaccine provider near you, click the link below:

dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-map.htm

Governor Evers' Budget: Investing in Wisconsin’s
Children & Families


A key part of Governor Tony Evers' state budget proposal is the increased investments that target Wisconsin’s children and families, thereby helping to ensure our state bounces back stronger than before, which is good for our economy and for our communities as a whole.

Here are some of the key provisions of the governor's budget that invest in Wisconsin’s children and families:

Improving Childcare Affordability & Access
What’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state, and that’s why Governor Evers is proposing to direct $140 million over the biennium towards a program to continue to address quality, affordability, access, and equity for children within the childcare industry. By ensuring families have access to high-quality childcare more people can remain in the workforce and help strengthen Wisconsin’s economy. 

Investing in Our Kids & Our Schools
The governor’s budget makes substantial investments in our K-12 schools and restores our state’s commitment to two-thirds funding for our schools. These investments include increasing general aid to schools by over $600 million over the next two years, which will reduce the need for school districts to levy additional property taxes to make up for a lack of state support. Moreover, the governor proposes investing over $709 million for special education aid. This will not only provide enhanced direct support to students with disabilities but also provide school districts with budget flexibility to address the needs of the general student population. 

Keeping Our Kids Safe from Lead Poisoning
Governor Evers invests in an initiative to improve lead testing and abatement in homes. This program would also expand our state's Birth to Three program to children who have tested positive for elevated lead levels.

Providing Tax Relief to Working Families
The governor's budget adds approximately $450 million in tax relief for low- and moderate-income Wisconsinites, especially those with kids and those who provide care to family members. It also provides more than $90 million in targeted tax relief to businesses to encourage investment and hiring.

Expanding Access to Affordable Housing
To help meet the urgent need for more affordable housing in Wisconsin, the governor's budget establishes a new $50 million affordable workforce housing grant program at the Department of Administration and creates state tax-advantaged savings accounts for first-time homebuyers.

Increasing the Minimum Wage
Governor Evers is also calling to increase the state minimum wage to $10.15 on or after January 1, 2024. His proposal also ties future state minimum wage increases to the consumer price index to ensure our wages adjust to the changing times and economy. The governor’s Bounceback agenda also creates a task force to study options for achieving a statewide minimum wage of $15 an hour.

Family and Medical Leave
This past year has also shown that families need more support. That is why the governor is proposing an expansion of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The governor’s proposal would require smaller employers to provide FMLA to their workforce, extend leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild, or sibling, allow FMLA for medical quarantine, and lower the threshold of hours an employee has to work to qualify for FMLA.

Ensure Your Voice is Heard During the State Budget Process! 

In the age of split government, with a Democratic governor and Republican-run Legislature, it is critical for you and your neighbors to come and share your thoughts about Governor Evers' state budget.

A lot is at stake during the state budget process, as Republicans have been quick to dismiss many provisions of the governor's plan. Communities across the state have made it clear they want increased investments in education, special education, health care, housing access, and more. We need every Wisconsinite to come and tell the Joint Finance Committee how this budget will benefit their family to ensure the positive provisions of this budget remain in the final version of the bill upon passage. 

The Joint Committee on Finance will hold public hearings on the Governor's 2021-23 Biennial Budget (Assembly Bill 68/Senate Bill 111) according to the schedule below. Follow the Joint Finance Committee Democrats' Facebook page for more updates about the public hearings. In the meantime, you can also email your comments to members of the Committee at budgetcomments@legis.wisconsin.gov.


Please note that hearing attendees must follow the COVID-19 safety protocols as designated by each host facility. Available seating may be limited due to social distancing guidelines.

  • Wednesday, April 21, 2021, from 10 AM - 5 PM
    The Hodag Dome School District of Rhinelander
    665 Coolidge Avenue Rhinelander, WI 54501

  • Thursday, April 22, 2021, from 10 AM - 5 PM
    University of Wisconsin-Stout Great Hall
    Memorial Student Center 302 10th Avenue East Menomonie, WI 54751
    Public Parking Available in LOT #29 400 13th Avenue East Menomonie, WI 54751

  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021, from 10 AM - 5 PM
    Virtual, more information about how to join virtually is available HERE.
In the District

Updates on what's happening locally in our community can be found in this section. I'll also include updates on resources, information, and COVID-19 assistance programs.


Project Clean & Green
The City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works’ annual Project Clean & Green program will run from April 12 through May 21, 2021.  This city-wide program is designed to foster neighborhood pride and ownership through coordinated clean-up. Collection crews will target one zone each week, starting with Zone 1 on Monday, April 12. For more information about the program, click HERE or call 414-286-2489.

Drug Take-Back Day  
Wisconsin’s next Drug Take-Back Day will be held on April 24. This program aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs to help prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. More information about the program is available HERE.

Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS)
Starting Monday, April 12, MCTS is increasing its capacity limit from 15 to 20 passengers. Passengers are still required to wear a mask while riding the bus and contactless fare payments are encouraged. To learn more, click HERE.

In the News

I'm working hard for Wisconsinites and am fighting to make our communities a better, safer place to live and raise a family. This section of 'Community Connections' will keep you up-to-date on hot topics happening locally, statewide, and nationally. I'll also share articles that I am quoted in when speaking to members of the media about the values of our community.


Civil Rights Enforcement Authority Bill 
On April 8th, I along with Rep. Jimmy Anderson, and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference to unveil new civil rights legislation. This legislation grants the state attorney general the authority to investigate potential civil rights violations and bring a civil action when there is reasonable cause to believe that a person has either committed a violation or been denied one or more of the rights secured by the United States Constitution, Wisconsin Constitution, or any Wisconsin laws relating to housing, employment, education, or public accommodation. To learn more about the legislation, and view a recording of the press conference, click HERE.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision Jeopardizes Emergency FoodShare Funding
On March 31, the Wisconsin Supreme Court made a ruling that eliminated the state's public health emergency declaration. The Supreme Court decision, spearheaded by the Republicans’ lawsuit against the Governor, will cost Wisconsinites $50 million dollars per month in FoodShare emergency funding starting in May. To learn more, click HERE.


Joint Committee on Finance Agency Briefings

As a member of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), I was proud to attend last week's agency briefings on Governor Tony Evers’ Badger Bounceback Budget, which took place over the course of two days. During the agency briefings, the Department of Instruction, Department of Workforce Development, Department of Natural Resources, and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission presented their agency priorities in the budget. While I was happy to hear from these agencies, I was upset that the Republican co-chairs of the committee refused to schedule briefings with other pertinent state agencies - like the Department of Health Services. This means that critical information about each state agency's budget priorities went unheard. We have real, urgent issues to address in Wisconsin like our alarming and dangerous lead poisoning rates. However, Republicans seem content with playing political games with the lives of Wisconsinites. To learn more about the first briefing, click HERE. To learn more about the second briefing, click HERE.

Useful Phone Numbers

There are many levels of state and local government that can help answer questions and get you connected with resources you may need. I have listed some useful phone numbers below. You can also see a comprehensive list of numbers by clicking the link below. If you see a change needed or an important number that should be added, please let me know! 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore.............................414-297-1140
Governor Evers.....................................................608-266-1212
Milwaukee Common Council...............................414-286-2221
Milwaukee County Board....................................414-278-4222
Milwaukee Police Department.............................414-933-4444
Poison Control......................................................800-222-1222
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program..............800-815-0015

Medigap Helpline.................................................800-242-1060
Consumer Protection Hotline..............................800-422-7128
Department of Health Services............................608-266-1865
Workforce Development......................................608-266-3131
Public Service Commission..................................800-225-7729
SeniorCare Wisconsin.........................................800-657-2038
WI Commissioner of Insurance Complaints.......800-236-8517


For other useful phone numbers, click here!