Every lawmaker in the Wisconsin State Assembly represents 57,000 people. I can tell you that we take being a voice for our constituents seriously, especially when it comes to developing the state budget. As a member of the Joint Committee on Finance, my Assembly Republican colleagues not only spoke up on behalf of their constituents, they also spearheaded important aspects of the budget.
Rep. Gae Magnafici of Dresser in northwestern Wisconsin was a champion for local road funding. Many transportation conversations consist of which major highway project should be completed in southeastern Wisconsin or in the Fox Valley. Rep. Magnafici reminded everyone that our transportation needs are not isolated in just a few areas of the state. This budget invests over $150 million in new spending for our local governments to make the road repairs they need. Our towns, municipalities and counties will see a 10% increase in general transportation aids, along with $90 million in new funds to the local road improvement program.
Rep. Jessie Rodriguez of Oak Creek in southeastern Wisconsin was a champion for our workforce needs. After Governor Evers’ budget lacked the proper funding for our technical colleges, Rep. Rodriguez who represents a growing area near Mitchell International Airport stepped up and authored an amendment to increase funding over and above the governor’s recommendation. Knowing the importance of these skilled workers to employers in her district, she fought for them and argued for the need for the additional investment. This budget increases funding by $25 million to the Technical College System.
Meantime, in central Wisconsin, Representative Pat Snyder was a champion for children and families. Following his work last session as the chair of the Speaker’s Task Force on Foster Care, Rep. Snyder made sure we properly fund these important programs. This budget now increases the investment to county child welfare services by $30 million, helping children who were taken out of their homes and placed into foster care have the assistance they need.
In the Fox Valley, Representative Michael Schraa was a champion for correctional officers and public safety. Over the past year Rep. Schraa who is the Assembly Corrections Committee Chair has toured correctional facilities, met with staff, and examined the wage situation here in Wisconsin. He brought his expertise to the budget conversation. As a result, this budget raises starting salaries to $19 per hour for correctional officers, helping to reduce overtime, decrease vacancies, and give these public safety workers the pay raise they deserve.
In southwestern Wisconsin, Representative Todd Novak of Dodgeville was a champion for more healthcare investments. Rep. Novak who often acts as a court appointed guardian for the elderly has heard from families dealing with Alzheimer’s and dementia. He made sure that we knew of the importance of the dementia care specialist program and the needs of the personal care worker industry. Working with Representative Mike Rohrkaste of Neenah amongst others, the budget now increases the number of dementia care specialists, allocates $150 million for caregiver wages, and invests $74 million for our nursing homes.
There are even more examples just like these that show how Assembly Republicans are listening to their constituents and delivering results for the state of Wisconsin. Budgets are about people not programs, and this budget was put together because representatives in Madison championed issues that help people all across Wisconsin.
Rep. Mark Born resides in Beaver Dam and represents the 39th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.