We're Off and Running!
This week Governor Walker delivered his 2017-19 budget
address. It starts the ball rolling on the most important task we
partake in in each session; how to spend your tax dollars to make
government work for you.
The governor’s address outlined what he called the “reform dividend.”
The last several budgets we made some very difficult decisions and
reforms were put in place. Now the state’s economy is growing and we can
invest in our priorities. Governor Walker outlined them as student
success, accountable government and rewarding work.
The budget he proposed includes $650 million for K-12 education. This is
in stark contrast to the last two budgets I have worked on as your
legislator. Four years ago, the Governor proposed no new money for our
public schools. Two years ago his budget proposal included a cut. Each
time, I fought for (and succeeded in) increasing funding for our
schools! Education has always been, and will continue to be one of my
The governor indicated he will be asking the Trump administration for
the authority to drug test people on government assistance. In his
words, the state program should be a "trampoline not a hammock." His
welfare reform proposal would provide help to get people off of drugs
and into the workforce.
Among other items the governor has included in his proposal:
· $592 in tax and fee cuts
· A tuition cut for in state University of Wisconsin system students
· More money for TAD courts, where treatment options serve as
alternatives to prison for criminals with substance abuse problems
· Shifting government employees to self-insured plans
· Spending millions more for veterans affairs, including improvements at
King veterans home
· A “sales tax holiday” where for a brief period of time there would be
no sales tax on back to school items, computers and clothing.
Transportation will be a hot button issue this budget cycle. The
Governor reiterated his stance that we should not raise the gas tax or
vehicle registration fee. Assembly leaders are adamant that a solution
will be found to add more revenue into the transportation fund.
Regardless of how this shakes out, I'm pleased all involved say a
priority will be to provide more money to fix and maintain our local
Here’s what happens next: the governor’s $76 billion dollar spending
plan gets analyzed in depth by the nonpartisan legislative fiscal
bureau. From there, the joint finance committee will begin briefing with
the agencies and then hold hearings throughout the state. During that
time, individual legislators will be taking input from you and making
suggestions to finance committee members on changes. Basically, the
legislature breaks apart the Governor’s spending plan apart and begins
putting it back together piece by piece.
I have initial concerns that there is too much spending in this budget,
but as I stated, it's just the start of the process. Your input is
invaluable to me and I would love to hear from you.
Click here to be
re-directed to the Governor’s budget address page, where you can read
the speech, see pictures and follow the budget process.
Thanks for Stopping by!
This week Columbus Police Chief Dan Meister was in the Capitol – thanks
for stopping in!
A Watertown Instutition
Yesterday I was notified that Bill Conner had passed
away. The Veterans statute at Marine Corps Aero Park in Watertown is
named after him. He was a staple of the Watertown community and brought
light to all who knew him. Two years ago I was honored to present Bill
with a citation from the Legislature. He was an amazing man, and he will
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