By Senator Howard Marklein
March 22, 2019
I Heard "Roads," "Roads," "Water," "Roads!"
Sen. Marklein reflects on seven listening sessions in the 17th
More than 200 people turned out for listening sessions in the 17th Senate District in March at seven different locations. My fellow legislators and I heard testimony from most of these people and received follow-up thoughts, ideas and concerns as well.
I heard “roads,” “roads,” “water” and “roads.” Loud and clear. All seven listening sessions echoed the same issues.
When it comes to roads, most attendees agreed: we need to improve our roads. We need more funding for roads in rural Wisconsin. We need roads – where we live – to be a priority for the state of Wisconsin.
Some attendees told us that they don’t mind paying more gas tax if they know that the funds will come back to our communities. They told us that the costs for repairing their vehicles after a tough winter are more than it would cost them in increased gas taxes. They cited specific stretches of road that are particularly bad.
I couldn’t agree more. I want rural roads to be a priority. I have been very clear with Department of Transportation Secretary-Designee Craig Thompson that I will fight for rural road funding and prioritization in the new budget. I have also been clear that I will not support revenue increases unless I have assurance that funding will be directed to rural roads.
I have reached out to all nine of the County Highway Commissioners in the 17th Senate District to build a list of the most “troubled roads” in the 17th. I am now in the process of determining when each of these troubled stretches are scheduled for repair, replacement and/or maintenance. I will report back to you on this in the future.
Bottom-line, I heard you and I agree. Rural roads are one of my top priorities. I will work hard to make sure that state funding comes back to us and I will work hard to help local governments get the funding they need to improve our local and county roads.
The next priority I heard a lot about is water. Attendees want us to support and promote studying private wells and groundwater to determine if our water is safe. If it is not, they want us to seek data-driven solutions that truly solve the problems. They want us to use science. They also want to be part of the solution.
The legislature’s Water Quality Task Force, chaired by Rep. Todd Novak (Dodgeville) and with Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) and Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) as members, met this week. They laid-out a game plan for studying and addressing these issues over the coming months. The task force will be holding public hearings all over the state, especially in southwest Wisconsin. Their scope mirrors the concerns shared by attendees at my listening sessions. I am optimistic that this dialogue will be productive.
Beyond roads and water, I heard about a number of other topics including:
- Dark Store protection for property tax payers.
- Agricultural economics
- K-12 Education Funding
- CWD, Deer Management
- Stewardship Program
- Solar Energy
- Child Care
- EMTs, First Responders, Rural EMS
- Rural hospitals
- Dental Assistance
- Caregiver workforce
- Immigration and Drivers Licenses for Illegal Immigrants
- UW System Funding and Tuition Freeze
As I continue to work on these issues, I will share more information and seek your ideas.
Thank you to everyone who took time to meet us personally. I also appreciate the emails, phone calls and office visits from those who could not attend a listening session, but wanted to share input. I invite you to email or call me – any time – to share your ideas. My team is ready and willing to take your input and they always pass it on to me.
Your voice is an important part of the legislative process. While we may not always agree, I appreciate the time that you take to share your ideas and concerns. I enjoy learning from the wide variety of perspectives and experiences in our communities. Communication is key to making good government.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.