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It sure was a busy week in the legislature. The Senate was in session and special session, the Joint Finance Committee met, and Governor Evers announced the 2021-2023 biennial budget - the Bounceback Budget. This budget is exactly what our state needs to bounce back and better than when the pandemic started and to finally move our state forward. It includes a handful of policies that have overwhelming public support like expanding BadgerCare, investing in K12 and higher education, and legalizing marijuana, just to name a few. 

It's a wish list that our state has been asking for for quite some time and that's why it's disappointing that Republicans have already signaled they plan on scrapping everything and starting from scratch. Republicans are stuck in the past and it's preventing our state from moving forward. 

This update includes the Joint Finance Democrats response to the budget, the latest on unemployment, Black History Month, and the latest vaccine news from DHS.

I hope you find this information helpful and please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions.

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State Senator
27th District


Brighter Days with the Badger Bounceback Budget

Following a tumultuous year for Wisconsin communities, small businesses, schools and families Governor Tony Evers has unveiled the 2021-2023 Biennial State Budget. The Badger Bounceback will ensure our state, communities, and families can bounce back and better than before the pandemic hit. Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee released the following statements praising the proposal.


“If we’ve learned anything from the last year it’s the importance of access to affordable and quality healthcare,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point). “Once again, Gov. Evers is prioritizing healthcare for Wisconsinites by introducing a budget that makes critical investments in health services while also expanding BadgerCare. This proposal supports rural hospitals and clinics, increases financial stability for families and is the smartest economic decision for our state.”


“As our state continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, I do not underestimate the challenges that our communities will continue to face,” said Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee). “However, I am filled with hope knowing that Governor Tony Evers' 2021-2023 proposed budget invests in our state's children and families. I am particularly happy to see that the budget continues and builds upon a program that addresses the quality, affordability, and access to child care with a $140 million investment. All of our children, regardless of their zip code, deserve the opportunity to thrive, and this budget 'connects the dots' by ensuring families have access to high-quality childcare so more people can remain in the workforce. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted the critical importance of our public schools and the impact they have on our communities. An investment into our kids is an investment into our future. That is why I am encouraged to see that the governor's proposed budget includes a substantial investment to fully fund our public schools and make them whole.”


 “Governor Evers’ budget creates a clear path forward as we begin a new decade and recover from the pandemic,” said Rep. Goyke (D-Milwaukee). “Most importantly, this budget makes investments to create opportunities for resiliency and growth. Substantial thought and planning went into the provisions that will improve our criminal justice and juvenile justice systems and offer us an opportunity to create a more equitable system, save money, and increase public safety.”


“This is a winning budget for Wisconsin’s working families,” said Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine). “With the Governor’s budget, we can invest in our shared future, our local economy, and an equitable recovery from COVID-19, while tackling climate change and building sustainable, resilient communities. Governor Evers’ plan to update our aging infrastructure, develop green jobs, support entrepreneurship, and invest in climate change mitigation is a great first step in creating good-paying, family-supporting jobs for every Wisconsin worker.”


ICYMI: Big News for Small Businesses

In case you missed it this week, Governor Evers signed into law legislation that will bring state law inline with federal tax law and allow Paycheck Protection Program loans tax-deductible. 

This is a big deal for businesses that relied on the Paycheck Protection Program to get through the early months of the pandemic. 

DHS to Launch Vaccine Website 

Starting March 1st, the Department of Health Services is launching a central website to better help connect people to vaccine availability. The website will provide information so people know when and where they can get a vaccination. 

You can learn more about the website here.


The Latest on Unemployment

Since March 2020, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) experienced an unprecedented number of unemployment claims as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite pleas from Wisconsinites struggling to make ends meet, Republicans waited for almost a year to introduce a plan that still doesn't make bold changes to address the problem. 

We are almost one year into this pandemic and Republicans have shown their complete callousness and their inability to legislate our state through a crisis. Despite calls from the Governor and Democrats, Republicans have sat on their hands while Wisconsin families were hanging by a thread. The Republican proposal is a starting point but fails to take meaningful action to help the very people they represent.  

This isn’t a new problem and we know the solution is to invest in the infrastructure and remove barriers to expedite the unemployment process and Republicans refuse to do that. This pandemic requires bold action and Democrats will continue pushing for these tangible solutions that will help Wisconsinites bounce back from this crisis.


Celebrate Wisconsin Black History

 As we celebrate Black History Month, it's important to recognize, celebrate and honor the contributions of African Americans to our state and country's history as we strive towards a more just, inclusive and equitable society. 

I encourage you check out the Wisconsin Historical Society that provide historical collections, stories, and resources to learn more about prominent changemakers in our state's history. 


Ice Shanty Removal Deadline

It's been a great winter for ice fishing but don't forget that ice shanty removal deadlines are coming just around the corner.

Permanent ice shanties that aren't removed daily, must be removed from all state waters by March 15. Early deadlines for inland and boundary waters are:

  • Wisconsin - Iowa boundary waters by February 20
  • Wisconsin - Minnesota boundary waters by March 1
  • Inland waters south of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 1
  • Lake Michigan, Green Bay, Lake Superior and inland waters north of Highway 64 by the first Sunday following March 12
  • Wisconsin - Michigan boundary waters by March 15

- Resources - 

During this difficult time it is worth reminding Wisconsinites that 211 exists to help when you don’t know where to turn. 211 is a resource managed by the United Way of Wisconsin. Call 2-1-1 or visit their website.

Office of Crime Victim Services

End Abuse Wisconsin 

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or go to for free and confidential support.

Disaster Distress Hotline 

Coping Resources for Kids and Parents Amidst COVID-19 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line 

Vets for Warriors 

Military One Source 

Resilient Wisconsin

Department of Corrections Helpline: The call center can be reached by members of the public Monday through Friday from 7:45am–4:30pm at (608) 240-5700.

Wisconsin Farm Center 

24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline

LGBTQ Crisis Line 

HopeLine Text Service 

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline 

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline 


Looking for additional resources? If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to my office at Sen.Erpenbach@Legis.WI.Gov, or call (608) 266-6670. 


Contacting My Office

Feel free to contact me with any inquiries.

Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.