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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Go Bucks! It has been an exciting time for Milwaukee with the Bucks achieving a historic championship win! Their commitment to our City both on and off the court is appreciated, and I am so proud to represent the Deer District.

With the state budget being signed into law, I wanted to give you a quick update on the investments that will have the greatest impact on Milwaukee.

I am thankful we have a Governor who puts people before politics, as having Evers in the East Wing allowed for budget vetoes that resulted in increased investments in our state’s key priorities. More information about these investments are included below.

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

Sincerely, 

LJohnson sig.bmpLaTonya Johnson
State Senator

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Child Tax Credit

Due to recent changes to the Child Tax Credit, eligible families will receive monthly payments (via check or direct deposit) of $250 to $300 for each child. Advanced payments for the credit began on July 15. For more information and to see if you qualify, click here


Additionally, if you aren’t required to file a tax return, you may still be eligible for the credit, but will need to provide the IRS some basic information via their non-filer sign-up tool. To access the tool,
click here.

 
Opportunities for Milwaukee in 2021-2023 State Budget

 


(AP Photo/Scott Bauer)(Scott Bauer | AP)

Recently, Governor Evers signed the state budget into law. While Wisconsin Republicans chose to ignore the will of the people by removing critical opportunities from the budget, having Evers in the East Wing allowed for budget vetoes that resulted in increased investments in our state's key priorities, like education, and forced Republicans to listen to the people of Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers said it best in his veto message:

“In many ways, this budget presents a false choice between the priorities the people this state care about and deserve. But after a long eight years of politicians making decisions for all the wrong reasons, I ran to be the governor of this state and promised I would always put people before politics—that I would always try to do the right thing, that I would work to find common ground, and that I would make decisions based on what’s best for our kids and our state.”  - Tony Evers

As a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), I am responsible for ensuring everyone in our state has what they need to thrive, regardless of the zip code in which they live. Unfortunately, with JFC being Republican-controlled, too many Wisconsinites are left behind, especially in our community.  

Still, during his budget address, Governor Evers talked about a budget that 'connects the dots.' Having a governor that understands how housing, health care, and criminal justice are interconnected ensures we are utilizing our state resources in an intentional, strategic way. 

Governor Evers proposed many items that would have directly supported Milwaukee families. Unfortunately, during the Joint Finance Committee process, Republicans removed many of these items. Nevertheless, several investments that either directly or indirectly benefit Milwaukee managed to be saved from the chopping block.

Opportunities for Milwaukee in State Budget: 


K-12 Public Education

After nearly two decades, Wisconsin will finally restore two-thirds funding for our schools in the next biennium, as this budget eliminates a $75 million delayed general school aid payment for our public schools, and also provides $685 million in additional net general and categorical school aid. 

Although the Republican approved education budget only met about 10% of the governor's initial request, Governor Evers made the tough choice to not veto this budget in its entirety, as it would have likely caused our kids and our schools to lose $2.3 billion in federal funds due to federal maintenance of effort requirements.

By not vetoing this budget, Governor Evers was able to ensure Wisconsin received our fair share of federal education funds, and recently announced that he would be investing more than $100 million in federal funding into our kids and public schools. As a result, school districts will be able to use these funds to support kids in the classroom, hire staff and teachers, provide mental health supports, buy supplies, and anything else they may need. 

Lead Screening and Outreach Grants
Toxic lead exposure has reached a critical mass in Milwaukee. Sadly, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee once again refused to approve Governor Evers’ budget request for the replacement of lead laterals. While I am infuriated by the GOPs lack of action, I am not ready to give up on this common-sense solution to a public health crisis that is harming our children, and I will continue to fight for funding. 

Nevertheless, I was encouraged to see that this budget provides an increase of $50,000 annually (from $125,000 to $175,000) for lead screening and outreach grants. These grants will be awarded to community-based human service agencies that provide primary health care, health education, and social services to low-income individuals in the City of Milwaukee. Most recently, this grant was awarded to Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers. 

Wisconsin Shares Reimbursement Rate Increase
As a former child care provider, a top priority of mine is ensuring families have access to high-quality childcare, as quality child care isn't just essential for our children's development, it is also a critical part of Milwaukee’s economic infrastructure, and ensures more people can remain in the workforce. 

That is why I am particularly happy to see that this budget ‘connects the dots' by providing nearly $100 million to the Wisconsin Shares program for targeted rate increases, and brings all maximum reimbursement rates in Wisconsin Shares within the 65th percentile.

Kinship Care
This budget provides $7.2 million TANF over the biennium to raise kinship care monthly rates from $254 to $300. Kinship care is an alternative to foster care and other out-of-home care placements where a child can be placed with an adult relative. Monthly kinship care payments are provided by the Milwaukee County Department of Children and Families to a child's relative to support the cost of their care. I hope that the rate increase will remove some of the barriers for relatives seeking to care for a child, and keep more families together. 

Child Welfare Safety Services 
This budget invests an additional $1 million TANF each year in targeted safety support funds (TSSF) for child welfare safety services in order to reduce the number of children entering the out-of-home care system.

TSSF is available in Milwaukee County, with around $4 million of TANF funds supporting contracts in the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS) to provide in-home services for families through the intensive in-home services program.

Nursing Home Reimbursement Rates
Professional care workers are the backbone of our economy and everyday lives. Without their support families would have to make the tough choice between remaining in the workforce or caring for a loved one. That is why I am encouraged to see that this budget provides an additional $10.4 million (for a total of $252.4million) in funding over the biennium to increase MA reimbursement rates paid to skilled nursing facilities and ICFs-IID.

This budget also requires DHS to provide an estimated $53.8 million in funding to support staff in those facilities who perform direct care. Through this, I hope facilities will be able to attract more workers to this critical profession by paying them a livable wage. 

Library Service Contracts
Public libraries provide an array of services to our communities. From reading programs to financial literacy initiatives. Moreover, throughout the pandemic Milwaukee Public Libraries served as a critical resource for students and families as they made the adjustment to virtual learning. 

This budget will provide $12,900 in 2021-22 and $25,300 in 2022-23 above base level funding of $1,342,400 to fully fund the cost of statutorily-required library service contracts for resources of specialized library materials and other information. This means that library service providers, like the Milwaukee Public Library, will be able to continue to offer critical resources to our communities. 

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.

 


2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks

I would like to extend my congratulations to the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks on their historic win and tremendous season. This Bucks team has been championing Milwaukee and its residents for years, and now they, rightfully, hold that title both on and off the court. 

Moreover, I would like to express my gratitude to the entire Deer District for showcasing Milwaukee so successfully these last few weeks. From local small businesses to fire and public safety professionals, pulling off such a successful Finals series was a major team effort. 

The Fiserv Forum is located in the 6th Senate District, and I am so glad that the world got a chance to see the amazing energy and diversity that exists in our community.

Alicia’s Place: FoodShare Resource Center 
I was honored to join Hunger TaskForce for the grand opening of their new FoodShare Resource Center, Alicia’s Place. The new center is located at 4144 N. 56th Street, and will be open to walk-ins Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM. Clients can receive one-on-one assistance with FoodShare and all other federal nutrition programs.

The new location’s namesake – Alicia – is Alicia Williams, a former Hunger Task Force FoodShare Assistant who helped connect people in the community to FoodShare resources from 2009 – 2018. Throughout her career, Alicia has worked with several social services organizations, helping those with mental illness, trauma and addiction get access to resources and housing. It was a pleasure to meet Alicia at the grand opening, and I commend her dedication and years of service to our community. 

For more information about the FoodShare program, call 414-988-6501 or visit Hunger Task Force’s website.


Drive-Thru Job Fair
Save the date! On August 19, the City of Milwaukee Office of Workforce Development will host a second drive-thru job fair for Milwaukee job seekers looking for immediate employment opportunities. The job fair will take place from 12 pm - 4 pm. For more information about the job fair, 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.

 


Gov. Evers Declares July 22'Bucks in Six' Day
As our city and state continue to celebrate the Milwaukee Bucks, I am excited that Governor Tony Evers has declared Thursday, July 22 "Bucks in Six" Day to commemorate their historic win.

Game six showed the world Milwaukee’s grit and determination. That is why I am proud to be a co-sponsor on a resolution that congratulates the Bucks for their perseverance and loyalty to our city and state. To learn more about the resolution, click here.

Special Session on School Funding
On July 26, Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #127, calling a special session of the Legislature to take up his proposal, LRB-4297, which would invest more than $500 million in Wisconsin's kids, schools, and students. While legislative Republicans will likely block this proposal from moving forward, I am happy to see the governor continue to show support for the priorities of the people in our state. More information about the special session is available here.

10-Digit Dialing Code Required for Wisconsin Residents
The Public Service Commission recently announced that beginning October 24, 2021, all customers with the area codes 414, 262, 608, and 920 will need to dial the area code and telephone number in order to connect their local and long-distance calls. For more information about the change, 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!