Madison -- This week was a big one for fans of Wisconsin politics. On Wednesday, Governor Evers gave his State of the State Address, and today the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) released its newest revenue estimates. These two things may seem pretty diverse, but there’s one theme: good Republican policy has kept our state moving in the right direction.
Let’s start with the good economic news: Wisconsin is projected to end the biennium with a balance of $620.2 million. According to the LFB, “this is $451.9 million above the balance that was projected at the time of enactment of the 2019-21 biennial budget.” And because of Republican oversight, our state savings account is projected to top $1 billion.
And that’s why Governor Evers was able to celebrate the strength of the State of Wisconsin: Republicans gave him a great budget to sign. Republicans have sent him great bills to sign. And when it looks like he might be making a mistake, Republicans have done our best to help him avoid doing too much damage.
Take the budget Governor Evers introduced as an example. Wisconsin was already projected to have a surplus of $1 billion, but even with that huge surplus, he wanted to raise taxes by another billion dollars. That included a tax on the farmers and producers who keep our agricultural economy moving. That tax would have done incredible damage to a lot of folks who are already truly hurting, and we stopped that from happening.
Which brings us to one of the highlights of the State of the State address: Governor Evers finally looked up from his office in Madison and remembered that rural Wisconsin still exists. We’re glad he did! We just wish he would have remembered it months ago.
When I helped get the Rural Wisconsin Initiative off the ground in 2016, I promised to stay focused on making sure that rural Wisconsin was treated with the same respect as Madison and Milwaukee. That meant passing bills that helped bring teachers to rural areas, expand the training of rural healthcare practitioners, and of course expand broadband access across the state. In this budget, Republicans created a Dairy Hub that will work to help our farmers develop new products and markets, and my RWI colleagues joined my push to add more funding to the Broadband Expansion Grant program than ever before. Just this week, the Assembly passed an RWI bill that creates a scholarship for dental students who plan to practice in rural areas.
With our small dairy farms still struggling and rural areas still facing real challenges, there is still much more to be done. In February, I’ll be hosting a program in the Capitol discussing fair dairy pricing and alternate ways to ensure that every farmer, even the small ones, has a chance to remain viable.
I look forward to continuing to lead this fight, as my future kids deserve to be able to visit grandpa on the farm, even if he chooses not to expand.