Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
May 19, 2017

Budget Bulletin II: Marklein Motions Are Making a Difference in the 17th Senate District

Work on the state budget continues.  This past week, we discussed the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board, Elections and Ethics Commissions, and several administrative provisions in the Departments of Administration, Health Services, Children and Families. We also made significant decisions related to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), the State Historical Society and Shared Revenue.
Following is a bulletin highlighting several issues we discussed to give you an inside view of our work on your behalf. For a full view of our proceedings, follow this link:
Service Awards for Volunteer Fire Fighters, First Responders & EMTs – We increased the contribution to the service award program match to $500 per volunteer per year from $344.11 per volunteer. Service award accounts allow a municipality to create an account that is payable when the volunteer reaches 15 years of service and the age of 60.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board (LWSRB) Funding – The LWSRB provides leadership for the riverway that extends 92.3 miles from below the dam at Prairie du Sac to the confluence with the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien and encompasses 95,893 acres. Most of the riverway is in the 17th Senate District. I authored a motion to provide full funding for an administrative position to support their efforts.
Forensic Unit at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston – We provided funding to open a 20 bed unit in existing, vacant facilities at Sand Ridge in Mauston to fulfill a need for forensic treatment facilities.  A forensic unit in a mental health facility is for people who are committed as a result of a criminal process or a civil process. This budget provision uses existing facilities to meet a need and is a better investment of our resources and specialized talent.
Cassville Public Utility Aid Distribution – Communities with power plants receive significant utility aid payments that are a part of their municipal budget. When Alliant Energy left Cassville in 2015, the community faced a huge, unexpected gap in their municipal finances.  At that time, I worked with Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) to create a plan in which Cassville would gradually step down their utility aid payments over a five-year period. Unfortunately, the Department of Revenue (DOR) recently issued a new interpretation of the law that changed the conditions and ended the payments immediately. In response, I authored a motion to once again step down the utility aid payments for Cassville, the City of Alma and the Town of Two Creeks who are impacted by similar rules.
Technical Colleges Funding – We deleted the tuition freeze but provided $2.5 million for need-based grants for technical college students. This is in direct response to the input and encouragement of technical college students statewide.
Circus World Museum – Circus World Museum in Baraboo will become a part of the Wisconsin Historical Society and will receive $1.2 million of state support and 10 positions over the biennium to support their operations. This historical attraction has struggled financially and sought help from the State Historical Society to sustain and grow into the future.
VW Settlement – In 2016, the US District Court issued an order to resolve environmental claims against Volkswagen after it was discovered that the company had installed a “defeat device” in some vehicles to render the vehicles’ emissions inoperable unless they were undergoing emissions testing. As a result, the VW settlement distributes funds to Wisconsin for a variety of purposes. The JFC allocated funds to a statewide transit capital program, to replace state fleet vehicles and to fund special agents at the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
County Aids – We voted to maintain the total county and municipal aid distribution of $753.1 million annually. These funds provide unrestricted aid to county and municipal governments for any activity approved by the local governing body.  This is funded from General Purpose Revenue (GPR).
Next week, we are scheduled to discuss:

  • State Treasurer
  • Consolidation of Human Resources Administration
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Higher Educational Aids Board
  • Educational Communications Board
  • University of Wisconsin System
  • Children and Families
  • Economic Support and Child Care
  • Building Commission Building Program
  • Health Services – Medicaid Services, FoodShare, Mental Health, Public Health

To view our agenda for the next week, please visit our committee schedule.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to  Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.