Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein
July 7, 2023

Delivering Wins for the 17th Senate District in the State Budget

The Governor signed the legislature’s version of the State Budget on Wednesday, July 5, 2023 with limited vetoes. I am frustrated, however, that he cut our $3.5 billion tax cut down to $175 million and it will only go to families making less than $36,840 per year. This is not a middle class tax cut.
Who is the middle class? Do you consider yourself to be middle class? Under the Republican Tax Cut, every taxpayer would have received a tax cut. There are four tax brackets. Which bracket do you fit in? 




 Married, Filing Jointly Income   

 Current Tax Rate   

 Republican Tax Rate   

 Governor’s Vetoed Tax Rate

  $0 - $18,420   




  $18,420 - $36,840   




  $36,840 - $405,550   



  5.30% (no change)   

  $405,550 +   



  7.65% (no change)   



The median household income in Wisconsin is about $63,000.  Under the Republican tax cut, this family’s tax rate (filing jointly) would have gone from 5.30% to 4.40%, which would have reduced their taxes by $567. With the Governor’s vetoes, this same family’s taxes will only be reduced by about $93.  
The Governor’s veto especially hurts small business owners who are often taxed at the top rate of 7.65%. These are your local business owners and job creators. They will only see the same $37 average cut per taxpayer.
Instead, the Governor has decided that $2.7 billion should stay in Madison, rather than be sent back to you, the taxpayer. I am very disappointed in his decision.  This is on top of increasing your property taxes for the next 400 years by using his veto pen on education funding.
Regardless of the Governor’s misguided tax policies, I am happy that most of the things that will specifically impact the 17th Senate District were maintained. We made this budget for Wisconsin and as the Co-Chair of the committee, I had a front-row seat to ensure that the 17th Senate District was heard and served throughout the process.
While most of the state budget has statewide impact, following is a brief discussion of the items I believe have specific impacts in the 17th Senate District:
$4.18 million for County Highway O in Richland County – this funding is for Phase II of the project.  Phase I and Phase III have been funded and completed, but Phase II has been a sticking point. These funds will ensure that the road is finished.
$449,200 for Mirror Lake Dredging and Gully Rehabilitation – more than 60% of the property around Mirror Lake is state park. However, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has refused to fund dredging and gully rehab to protect this valuable waterway. These funds supplement funding already gathered by the Mirror Lake Association to do the project.
1 Additional Assistant District Attorney for Sauk County – 45% of cases in Sauk County involve people who are not from Sauk County due to their proximity to Wisconsin Dells and the interstate. The additional position will help with their massive caseload.
Local, Rural Road Funding – We allocated $150 million for a new Ag Road Improvement Program (ARIP), $100 million for the very successful Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) and increased General Transportation Aids (GTA) by 2% in each year of the biennium. All of these programs will have massive impact on roads in the 17th Senate District. We also increased Connecting Highway Aids by 25%. This specifically impacts communities like Platteville, Lancaster, Reedsburg, Monroe, Richland Center and others that have a state highway running through their municipality. The Freight Rail Preservation program will be fixing two bridges in Reedsburg and we set aside $12.5 million to assess local bridges and culverts. 
Increased pay for Correctional Officers, District Attorneys (DAs), Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) and Public Defenders (PDs), and State Patrol – Pay for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice professionals has been lagging and creating massive vacancies. The pay increases we allocated in the budget will not solve the problem overnight, but we are hopeful that they will help with retention and recruitment into the future. We also allocated $85,300 for the new health services unit at the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility in Boscobel.
Invested $24.4 million in State Parks and Forests – The 17th Senate District has 10 state parks, the most out of all Senate Districts. We are home to Belmont Mound State Park, Buckhorn State Park, Governor Dodge State Park, Mill Bluff State Park, Mirror Lake State Park, Nelson Dewey State Park, Rocky Arbor State Park, Tower Hill State Park, Wyalusing State Park and Yellowstone State Park.  New investments into these properties, and all others around the state, will enhance the state park experience and access for all visitors. The DNR will be able to determine how to best allocate these funds to their list of projects and improvements.
Increased County Fair Aids by $193,600 per year – We increased aid to our local county fairs in order to allow competitors to receive a premium at more than one fair. County fairs are a very important part of our communities and this increase, while modest, will make a big difference!
Increased funding for Meat Processor Grants ($1.6 million more) and Dairy Processor Grants ($600,000 more) – The pandemic exposed several soft spots in our food supply chain statewide. These grants have successfully assisted existing and new processors to expand and grow to meet the needs of our communities and industries throughout Wisconsin, especially in the 17th Senate District.
County and Local Government Increases – We increased county reimbursement for the County Victim Witness Program to 60% of County costs. We added $7.5 million to funding for Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs), which are a huge asset in our communities. We increased funding for County Veteran Service Officers (CVSOs) by 25% ($330,200 per year). We increased funding for the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) program and funded a radio grant program for local public safety to purchase new WISCOM compatible radios. We maintained the Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment (POWTS) program into the future to help low-income individuals pay for wastewater treatment upgrades on rural properties.
Finally, the State Building Program will be making investments in several of our communities:

  • $5.6 million for the Skilled Care Unit Remodel at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center
  • $1.1 million for Boebel Hall Bio-Chemistry Lab Renovation at UW Platteville.
  • $4.7 million for UW-Platteville Williams Field House Exterior Envelope Maintenance Repairs

Again, most, if not all, of the state budget impacts our communities. From schools to roads to health care, the big priorities of the budget affect all of us.  But the list above targets specific needs and projects that will make a difference for us. I am proud of my work to deliver results!
As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703. I want to hear from you.