Capitol Update

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Dear Friends,


Earlier this week, the City of Monroe faced a tragic set of events that required the diligent attention of local law enforcement during the Green County Fair, when several law enforcement assets were deployed to the fair.

I want to pass along my heartfelt gratitude to the deputies who responded to this dangerous situation. The efforts of two Green County Sherriff’s deputies prevented what could have been further bloodshed and kept our community safe. The calm poise and professionalism exhibited by Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley, Green County Sheriff Mark Rohloff, and both of their departments was exemplary. It is my understanding that all law enforcement personnel, including the Monroe Police Department, Green County Sheriff’s Department, Green County District Attorney, and the Wisconsin Department of Justice, performed exactly as they had been trained to perform. My thanks to the men and women who stand ready in these situations to keep us all safe.

As a side note, the recent state budget included funding and staffing for the Department of Justice to investigate officer involved shootings. I must admit that we tend to think that these officer involved shootings occur in the bigger cities of our state. The recent event in Monroe reminds us that these rare circumstances can happen anywhere.







The State of Wisconsin’s Credit Card
When I ran first ran for office one of my top concerns was the condition of Wisconsin’s “credit card.” For many years we had been taking on a considerable amount of debt, were pushing off payments on that debt into the future, and were not properly dealing with our commitments. With the signing of the 2015-2017 budget, it’s useful to look at a snapshot of what kind of progress we have made on slowing our borrowing and paying off what’s been borrowed in the past.

As we have discussed over the last several months, every two years the State of Wisconsin tackles a new budget. These budgets determine how we spend the revenue we collect through taxes and fees. We also authorize specific amounts of bonding – or borrowing – for each two year period. The authorization of borrowing is similar to the maximum level you can borrow on your credit card. The 2015-2017 state budget contains $652 million in bonding, the lowest level of authorized bonding since 1987.

This is a very positive development for the State of Wisconsin. As we borrow less it becomes easier for us to manage our current and future payments. What we don’t borrow now, we don’t have to repay latter.


Some level of borrowing, particularly for projects that encourage strong economic growth, is not necessarily a bad thing. Borrowing becomes a problem when we reach levels of debt that we are unable to pay back. This was the case for several years in Wisconsin’s past. From 2007 to 2011 Wisconsin restructured debt payments and pushed more than $1.5 billion dollars of payments on debt into the future.


Annual GPR Debt Service ($ in Millions)

Year Debt Payment Owed Actual Payment Payments Deferred
2000-01 $330.9 $330.9 $ 0.0
2001-02 334.2 232.2 102.0
2002-03 351.8 326.8 25.0
2003-04 339.2 164.2 175.0
2004-05 314.2 314.2 0.0
2005-06 413.6 413.6 0.0
2006-07 453.8 543.8 0.0
2007-08 494.3 430.7 63.6
2008-09 499.6 438.0 61.6
2009-10 507.9 145.3 362.6
2010-11 510.9 213.8 297.1
2011-12 523.3 155.1 368.2
2012-13 616.7 616.7 0.00
2013-14 717.1 717.1 0.00
2014-15 636.8 528.8 108.0
2015-16 619.8 619.8 0.0
2016-17 592.5 592.5 0.0
Totals $8,256.6 $6,693.5 $1,563.1

*Source: Legislative Fiscal Bureau



The table above shows the struggle that Wisconsin was under in paying its obligations. We had run up too much debt on our “credit card” and instead of making the required payments, we were delaying them into the future. For anyone who has put together a household budget, we know this can’t go on forever.

Unfortunately, because of those past decisions we are now making larger payments on our debt, but I am confident we can bend the cost curve downward.

The budget that was just signed by Governor Scott Walker was good news for Wisconsin’s “credit card” in multiple ways. Not only did we budget to make full payments on past debt, but we created the lowest level of debt in 30 years. This is an extremely positive development for our state, and I’m hopeful we can continue these trends in the future.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.

In the District


Woodford State Bank Celebrates 100 Years!
Last week, I had the honor of presenting a plaque to Woodford State Bank in Monroe, WI for celebrating their 100 year anniversary. Woodford State Bank officially opened in November 1915 and grew from 1 bank, originally in Woodford to 4 branches in Monroe, Argyle, South Wayne and Blanchardville, totaling $185 million in assets. Woodford is a locally owned, community bank, primarily serving Green and Lafayette counties for the past 100 years. Thanks for having me!


*Scott DeNure, Woodford State Bank President and CEO and Senator Howard Marklein


*Daryll Lund, Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff for Wisconsin Bankers Association, Scott DeNure, Woodford State Bank President and CEO, Senator Howard Marklein, and Tim Daly, Vice President of Independent Community Bankers of America


Helpful Information


Wisconsin Local Employment and Unemployment Estimates
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include revisions for May 2015 and preliminary estimates for June 2015.

The following table shows the local unemployment rates from June 2014 and June 2015 for the counties in our district. I continue to hear from a number of employers within the district that there are a number of job openings.


County June-15 RATE June-14 RATE
Grant 4.7 5.1
Green 4.0 4.8
Iowa 4.2 5.0
Juneau 5.2 6.4
Lafayette 3.9 4.3
Monroe 4.6 5.5
Richland 4.4 5.1
Sauk 4.2 4.8
Vernon 4.4 4.8

*Department of Workforce Development

Homeowners: Be on Alert for Storm Chasers
A recent release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) warns homeowners who have experienced storm damage to be on alert for home improvement workers who plan to rip you off. We’ve already seen a number of storms come through the 17th Senate District, it’s important to be on the lookout. See their release below:

MADISON – Summer storms in Wisconsin can be brutal. If your property is damaged due to severe weather, it’s good to remember that another kind of storm may be brewing: transient home improvement workers who rip off homeowners. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) warns Wisconsin residents to be on the lookout for these “storm chasers.”

“Every year we hear from consumers who have been conned by storm chasers,” said Frank Frassetto, Division Administrator for Trade and Consumer Protection. “Don’t be hasty when doing your homework on the contractor you hire.”

Storm chasers charge high prices for shoddy work, or offer a low price to get an upfront payment and then run off with a victim’s money. The workers are often from out of state and move quickly from town to town, making them difficult to track. The workers pressure homeowners for a down payment, and sometimes increase the price of the job when they ask for the final payment.

“Never let these workers into your home and don’t give in to high-pressure tactics,” said Frassetto.

A Wisconsin state law – “The Storm Chaser Law” – gives DATCP enforcement tools to protect consumers and honest businesses and aims to prevent insurance fraud. Highlights of the law include:

  • Contractors cannot promise to pay all or some of a property insurance deductible.

  • Contractors cannot represent or negotiate with the customer’s homeowner’s insurer on behalf of the customer. The contractor can, with the consent of the customer, discuss damages and costs associated with the repairs with the insurer.

  • Before entering into a contract with a customer, the contractor must give the customer a questionnaire to determine whether the work requested is related to an insurance claim.

  • Customers have a right to cancel the contract within three business days of being notified that their insurer has denied all or any part of the claim for work. Contractors must notify customers of this right.

Here are additional Consumer Protection tips for homeowners with storm damage:

  • Hire a contractor based on referrals. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations and ask contractors for references. Before you sign a contract, contact DATCP to see if we have received complaints about the business.

  • Try to get a local contractor. Ask contractors if they are subcontracting your job. Be careful if local contractors are using outside subcontractors.

  • Get lien waivers from anyone you pay for home repairs. Lien waivers protect you if the person collecting the money does not pay the suppliers or workers.

  • Get a written contract with a start and completion date and warranty information. Also, make certain that the contract states exactly what work is to be done and what materials are to be used. Never rely on a verbal commitment.

  • Ask to see the contractor’s state registration card. Make sure that any contractor you are considering hiring shows you their state registration card.

  • Have someone watch the work being done. Check with your local building inspector to see if the work requires a permit. Make sure an inspector visits the job site before you make a final payment.

Request a copy of the contractor's certificate of liability insurance.For additional information or to file a complaint, visit the Consumer Protection Bureau at datcp.wisconsin.gov, send an e-mail to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov or call the Consumer Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.


*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with other interested citizens and taxpayers. You are receiving this update because you have either subscribed or contacted Senator Marklein directly.

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