Over the past few months, the Wisconsin legislature’s budget writing committee has been busy assembling a draft of the state’s upcoming biennial budget. On June 13th, the Committee passed the final draft of the budget, which will now go to the Assembly and Senate to be voted on. Once both houses pass the budget, it will go to Governor Evers where he can pass, veto entirely, or partially veto the budget. When the budget reaches the Assembly floor, I intend to vote for it because it is a good budget for northwest Wisconsin with responsible levels of spending.
This budget will help fix our roads. Earlier this month, I submitted a budget motion that adds $90 million to Wisconsin’s Local Road Improvement Program. This money will be used to improve deteriorating county, town, village, and city roads. I’m very happy that existing money has been allocated to this program for local and rural roads, instead of further mega-projects in Madison and Milwaukee, and I look forward to working with local county and municipal governments to ensure that this money is used to improve the roads in my district.
Long-term care facilities will also see more funding. The budget provides $74 million to nursing homes and invests over $150 million in caregiver wages to ensure our elderly receive the care they deserve as northwest Wisconsin faces a workforce shortage. Additionally, this budget does not expand welfare in Wisconsin. Even at a time of record low unemployment in Wisconsin, one in five people in the state are currently enrolled on Medicaid, with only two people working for every one person on Medicaid. The costs of Medicaid expansion would be paid by residents with private insurance, as healthcare providers are forced to accept lower reimbursement for the additional Medicaid patients they would serve.
This budget also includes a middle class tax cut that will target low and middle income earners. With the state’s recent surplus revenues, I feel it is only fair that this surplus money be returned to the taxpayers that are responsible for it. Although Governor Evers vetoed a tax cut earlier this session, I hope he sees the value in this tax cut and keeps it in the budget.
Finally, our public schools will receive the largest total funding in state history. Schools will see a $604 increase in per-pupil aid over the biennium, and rural low-revenue school districts will see their spending caps rise to $10,000 by the second year of the biennium. This budget also increases funding for special education and mental health services and helps rural school districts by increasing funding for high-cost transportation.
As a life-long conservative, I have always fought for responsible government spending and lower taxes. I support this budget because the additional spending addresses key issues in Wisconsin, and more importantly, in Polk, Burnett, and St. Croix counties. All of this has been done with no state level tax increases, minimal fee increases, doubling the state’s rainy day fund, and far less spending and tax hikes than what was proposed by Governor Evers. This is a good budget for Wisconsin, I look forward to voting in favor of it, and I hope the Governor will join me in supporting the entire budget as well.