Capitol Update

by Senator Howard Marklein

June 30, 2023

The Best of Our Budget


The State Senate and State Assembly passed our State Budget on June 28 and 29, 2023. It is now headed to Governor Tony Evers for signature and, possibly vetoes. I am very hopeful that the Governor will be easy on his veto pen. Our State Budget is made for Wisconsin and we worked with him on several of the biggest parts of it – K-12 Schools and Shared Revenue!
Throughout the budget process, we held listening sessions in our own districts and four public hearings all over the state. We met with dozens of associations and organizations that were represented by individuals from our communities. We heard input from people via telephone, email and in person. We researched, considered and studied the issues and ideas before us.
I am very proud of our work on the state budget. We had a lot of very important factors to consider and I believe we have done a good job of balancing the priorities of the people we represent.
One of the biggest factors before us was the massive state surplus. When we started the state budget process, we recognized that we have a $7 billion surplus. However, we also quickly determined that only about $2.5 billion of these funds were ongoing. This means that less than half of the surplus can be counted on into the future. When we wrote the state budget, we projected whether the spending was one-time or ongoing and determined if we will be able to afford it into the future.
This year, we deliberately focused the ongoing funding on our priorities – K-12 education, roads and health care. We ensured that all core services of state government are affordable and planned for.
We provided $1.2 billion in new, spendable resources for K-12 education and worked with the Governor on this part of the proposal. We exceeded 2/3 funding in each year of the budget and provided $325 more per pupil in each year. 
We allocated $1.5 billion more for Transportation, which includes $362.8 million for local roads and bridges. I was proud to lead the effort to include $150 million for our vital agricultural roads through the Agriculture Road Improvement Program (ARIP). We kept all projects on schedule and borrowed responsibly.
We directed $3.1 billion for Health Services, including directing Federal funds to our core services. This includes $387 million for hospitals, $195 million for nursing homes, and $41 million toward meeting Wisconsin’s mental health needs.
We approved $2.4 billion for Capital Building Projects throughout the state, which was the largest investment in state history. We funded projects across Wisconsin including more than $955 million of projects on UW campuses. We funded improvements at State Parks and State Forests. We funded improvements at several Correctional Institutions and provided funding for an additional Type 1 Juvenile Facility. Every corner of the state will see an impact from our Capital Budget.
We invested in our natural resources by creating a $125 million PFAS fund and directed nearly $25 million to our state parks for maintenance, repair, and campsite electrification.
We are addressing the housing needs of Wisconsin by directing $525 million for workforce housing initiatives.
We allocated $95 million for Child Care programs, including $45 million for the Wisconsin Shares program which provides subsidies for low-income families to pay for child care. We also created a $15 million Child Care Revolving Loan Fund to help child care facilities with improvements, upgrades and other needs.
Workforce development continues to be a priority. We invested $25 million in workforce development initiatives, including $7 million more for Youth Apprenticeship and $14.4 million more for the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS).
We invested in the state workforce by increasing the starting wages for Department of Corrections (DOC) Security positions to $33 per hour, continuing add-ons for working in maximum-security facilities and those with high vacancy rates. We also created an add-on for medium security facilities and allocated $15.3 million for the DOC Overtime supplement. We increased the starting pay for District Attorneys, Assistant District Attorneys, and Public Defenders by $8.76 per hour. In addition, all state employees will receive a 4% pay increase on July 1, 2023 and a 2% pay increase on July 1, 2024.
We took care of our veterans, provided the largest increase for local governments in state history, invested in public safety communications upgrades, and much, much more.
In addition to all of these investments, we cut taxes by $4.4 billion. $3.5 billion of this tax cut is for income taxes, with an average of $573 per taxpayer. Every taxpayer with a tax liability will see a decrease under this plan. We are also cutting property taxes by $795 million, which is $1 lower than the Governor on property taxes on a median value home in each year.
Finally, we are also using some of the one-time surplus to pay off $400 million in state debt. This investment will provide tremendous relief in the long term.  The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) said that this will save us $30-40 million in principal and interest payments per year! 

Again, this is the best of our budget.  Our budget is made for Wisconsin. We worked hard to fund our shared priorities and prepare for the future. I am proud of our work for you and look forward to moving forward together.
You can read more about our budget that is made for Wisconsin here: https://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/republicans/budget/23-25/
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.