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I hope you had a nice and safe Easter celebration. It was a busy week as the Joint Finance Committee convened to hear briefings from the Departments of Instruction, Workforce Development, Natural Resources, and the Public Service Commission on their priorities in the budget. It was very insightful and reiterated how important Gov. Evers's budget is for Wisconsin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In case you missed it, Gov. Evers announced he will be hosting a series of virtual Badger Bounceback Live Sessions that will provide opportunities for Wisconsinites to discuss, provide feedback, and share personal stories on the governor’s Badger Bounceback agenda and how it impacts them, their families, and communities across the state. 

On April 14th at 6pm the Governor will be hosting a session on Justice Reform and Marijuana Legalization that will cover topics such ass addressing racial disparities in our justice system, legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, investing in treatment, rehabilitation, and other alternatives to incarceration, and programming to support safe community reentry. 

You can register to attend the event here.

 

This update includes more about budget information related to education, vaccination information, a statement from the Democratic members on the Joint Finance Committee, the latest Dane County health order, local road projects, tornado and severe weather awareness week and week of the young child. 

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

Sincerely,
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JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

 

Get to Know the Budget - Education

The Governor's BounceBack Budget includes policies to help our state, communities and families bounce back and better than when the pandemic started. It includes a lot of policies that have overwhelming public support and are critical to help move our state forward. Each week, I'll highlight portions of the Governor's budget and why it matters to you.
An important facet of the Governor's budget is investments in Wisconsin classrooms, because Gov. Evers knows that what's best for our kids is what's best for our state. This budget matters because it ensures children have the opportunity to a quality education by investing in classrooms, special education services, mental health care, and rural schools.
As I've highlighted in a previous update, the Governor's budget proposal makes a significant investment in special education services. For the last ten years, special education funding has remained stagnant while the costs for these services have skyrocketed. Other investments include:
  • More than $54 million in funding for student mental health programs.
  • Restores our state's commitment to two-thirds funding for schools.
  • Invests $140 million to address quality, affordability, access and equity for children and childcare services.
  • Increases sparsity aid for rural schools, increases the reimbursement rate for students transported over 12 miles, and fully funds high-cost transportation aid for school districts with relatively high transportation costs on a per student basis.
Republicans have repeatedly broken their promise to invest in schools and are now threatening to withhold these critical investments because they didn't like the results of the statewide election for Superintendent. It is beyond despicable for Republicans to punish teachers and students because they don't like the winner of a democratically elected process. I encourage you to reach out Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee and encourage them to put Wisconsin students first and pass Governor Evers' education budget as is! 


Make An Appointment to Get Vaccinated!

In case you missed it, Gov. Tony Evers, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), announced that everyone age 16 and over is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Per DHS, you can find a local vaccine provider on the COVID-19 vaccine provider map or visit https://vaccinefinder.org. Individuals can also call the toll-free vaccine hotline at 1-844-684-1064 with questions or help registering for a vaccination appointment. The hotline is also available in Hindi, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.

Certain vaccine providers are using the COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. Anyone can register for an appointment using the COVID-19 vaccine registry. After you register, you will be notified when you are able to schedule an appointment. Appointments are based on whether a vaccine provider in your area uses the registry for scheduling and has available vaccine, and your place on the waitlist. Other vaccine providers may use their own scheduling system.

In the meantime, it is important to double-down on ways to stop the spread of COVID-19 due to emerging strains of the virus. Masking up, staying physically distant, washing hands, and getting tested continue to be crucial tools for protecting ourselves and our communities against COVID-19. Individuals who are fully vaccinated can review recently released post-vaccination guidance on the DHS website.

For information, resources, and data related to Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccination program, visit the COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

Be proactive in reaching out to your local pharmacy or health clinic to set up a vaccine appointment. Reminder if you have any COVID-19 questions call 844-684-1064 (toll-free).


Republicans Attempt to Distract and Undermine Badger BounceBack Budget's Investments

The Joint Committee on Finance held the second and final day of agency briefings on Governor Tony Evers’ Badger Bounceback Budget, followed by both a public hearing and an executive session on a Republican package of bills attempting to control the allocation of Wisconsin’s portion federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

During the agency briefings, the Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Public Service Commission presented their agency priorities in the budget. The Committee heard testimony on how the proposed budget invests in clean water, natural resources, energy efficiency and affordability, sustainability, and other measures designed to move Wisconsin toward a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic members on the Joint Finance Committee released the following statements regarding today’s agency briefings and the ARPA bills:

“Our state is at a critical point on our path to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Evers’ budget is vital to those efforts,” said Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point). “Despite the Governor’s successful leadership, Republicans have repeatedly sought to undermine his efforts with frivolous lawsuits and legislation that possibly isn’t legitimate. These bills are nothing more than a distraction from a party that failed to show up when our state needed them most. Republicans lost any credibility on what should be done to help communities bounce back when they took a yearlong vacation during a public health crisis.”

“While Republicans are busy with their political ‘smoke and mirrors’ game, Governor Evers’ administration is hard at work laying out its plan to help our state to bounce back from the pandemic,” said Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee). “As pointed out by the Department of Natural Resources, our communities can only be successful if we have clean water for our families to drink and visitors to enjoy. We have real, urgent issues to address in Wisconsin like our alarming and dangerous lead poisoning rates. Governor Evers’ budget proposal shows he takes these issues seriously by investing $40 million to combat our lead service line crisis.”

Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) stated, “Today’s briefings showed that we are truly at a crossroads in Wisconsin. We have the opportunity to invest today in programs and projects that will define the future of our state: When we invest in water quality by confronting PFAS contamination and the lead pipe crisis, we can protect the health and wellbeing of our kids and families. When we expand broadband across Wisconsin, we create economic and educational opportunities in every corner of the state. And when we tackle the climate crisis, we can create good jobs and reduce longstanding inequities. Governor Evers’ budget chooses to invest in a better, brighter future so we all can bounce back from the COVID crisis.”

Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said, “Over the past two days, we heard agency plans for Badger Bounceback Budget investments that will be critical to rebuild and recover after the pandemic. The Committee had the opportunity to discuss a resilient future, but the Republicans continued their attempts to catch up with the Governor and distract from his winning budget provisions.”


Dane County Health Update

After a month of stable and improving COVID-19 data, specifically a dramatic increase in vaccination numbers, Public Health Madison & Dane County has issued Emergency Order #15. The order went into effect April 7th and will be in effect until May 5, 2021.

 

A summary of provisions that changed between Order #14 and Order #15 include:

  • Outdoor gatherings now have no limit as long as individuals can keep six feet of distancing.
  • Face coverings remain required in indoor public spaces, but face covering requirements for outdoor spaces were removed.
  • Schools and childcare policy requirements including distancing and cleaning changed.
  • Self-service food stations (e.g., salad bars, buffets, and sampling) may resume.
  • Saunas and steam rooms may reopen, with certain provisions.

See the Dane County Public Health news release, Order #15, and their blog post for details.


US 18/151 Safety Improvement Project Begins Monday

Per the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, safety improvements will begin Monday, April 12 on US 18/151, between the County JG overpass in Mount Horeb and County BB near Ridgeway, in Dane and Iowa counties. The $1.9 million project will install high-tension cable barriers in the highway median. 
Single lane closures are anticipated in both directions. Motorists are urged to slow down and be vigilant for crews working in the area. The project is scheduled to be completed in late June. 

Week of the Young Child

The National Association for the Education of Young Children's (NAEYC) will be celebrating its 50th annual Week of the Young Child from April 10-16th.

While our young children and those who care for and educate them have always been celebrated, the pandemic has highlighted how critical having access to high quality affordable child care impacts all communities in our state. Simply put, without early care and education we have no economy. Governor Evers and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will recognize the week with separate proclamations. 

Join the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association celebrations by checking out their week of events here


Weekly Democratic Radio Address

This week, Governor Evers delivered the Democratic Radio Address on his Badger Bounceback agenda which includes ensuring that every kid has access to a high-quality, public education, providing mental health supports for students at schools, expanding access to early childhood education and childcare, and investing in our higher education institutions.

You can listen to the audio file here and the written transcript is below:

 

"Hey, Wisconsin! Governor Tony Evers here.


In February, I introduced my Badger Bounceback agenda, which is all about making sure our state and our economy can bounce back from this pandemic and build the future we want to see for our state.

Well, as I've always said, what’s best for our kids is best for state. So, what better way to build on our future than by investing in our kids. That’s why our Badger Bounceback agenda invests in our kids from early childhood to higher education.

We’re starting by investing more than $140 million in early education and childcare to improve access, quality, and opportunity for our kids and families. Those first few years of life set the base for all future learning.

I’m also proposing to restore our state’s commitment to two-thirds funding for our K-12 public schools, invest an additional $709 million in special education reimbursement, and fully fund sparsity aid for our students in our rural school districts.

This pandemic has been very difficult for all of us, but especially our kids. So, we’re also investing $54 million in mental health support and services for our students, too.

Finally, our higher education institutions have always been an economic driver for our state, and we need to double down if we’re going to bounce back.

We’re investing $36 million in our technical college system and making the largest investment in the UW System in 20 years at $190 million. We’re also expanding Bucky’s Tuition Promise to every UW campus to ensure kids from low-income families can get a high quality 4-year education tuition free.

If we’re going to bounce back from this pandemic better, then we have to start by making sure our kids are better off than they were when this pandemic started.

If you agree, then contact your legislator and ask them to support our Badger Bounceback agenda so we can bounce back, together.

 

Thank you."


Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness

Governor Evers has declared April 12-16th is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. That means this is an opportunity to talk about weather safety and preparedness with your families. 

 

Did you know that Wisconsin averages 23 tornados in year? Just last year the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that 20 tornadoes touched down in Wisconsin. Spring and summer are the most active time of the year for tornadoes but it's important to remember that they can happen in any month.

 

ReadyWisconsin encourages people to do the following to stay safe from severe weather:

  • Create an emergency plan and practice it. Know where designated shelters are located at home, work, and school, and be ready to go there when a tornado warning is issued.
  • Have multiple ways to receive alerts about approaching severe weather. Outdoor warning sirens, a NOAA Weather Radio, local media, and smart phone apps are all important tools. Don’t rely on any single source for important life-saving alerts.
  • If you have a mobile device, make sure it is enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. On many devices, that option is available in the settings menu.
  • Keep up to date on the daily forecast for your area. It can help ensure you are ready for potential severe weather threats.
  • Create an emergency kit for your home, with supplies such as food, water, a flashlight, and first aid kit. Find tips for building a kit at https://readywisconsin.wi.gov

To view the full ReadyWisconsin 2021 Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week packet, visit TSAW 2021 Media Packet

For more tips on severe weather preparedness and advice on creating your own emergency plan, visit https://readywisconsin.wi.gov. You can also follow ReadyWisconsin on Facebook and Twitter for tips on emergency preparedness throughout the year!


Get Covered Through the ACA!

Thanks to new COVID relief, health insurance premiums have decreased on Healthcare.gov and you can sign up to get covered right now! Four out of five enrollees will now be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month.

If you’ve shopped on Healthcare.gov before, look again! New, lower prices are available for more people than ever before.

If you are are currently uninsured, already signed up for a plan through Healthcare.gov, or eligible for COBRA coverage from a former employer, you may benefit from these changes. People looking to get enrolled or change their current plan are encouraged to visit Wiscovered.com or call 2-1-1 to get free, expert help.

This new enrollment opportunity won’t last forever- sign up today!


Rental Assistance

Reminder, if you or anyone you know that has experienced income loss as a result of the pandemic their is support available! 
 
The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify.
 
For information on the program, how to apply, frequently asked questions as well as local resources and contacts please click here.

 


- 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 thehotline.org 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.