Letter from Rep. Petryk: Joint Finance Committee approves budget bill
The work on the Wisconsin budget bill (Assembly Bill 40) by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) is now complete and the bill moves on to the full Assembly for our consideration. As you may know, I am not a member of the powerful JFC, so my one and only opportunity to vote on the budget bill will be when it comes to the full Assembly for a vote. The legislation is thousands of pages in length, it is all-inclusive, and each member can only cast one vote. So it is now my job in the coming weeks to weigh the pros and cons of the budget before determining my final position.
From the Governor's recommendations, the JFC cut: $4 million in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) funds; 727 full time existing and vacant employee positions; and $367 million in overall bonding. These are the kind of cuts and reductions that Wisconsin needs to set the stage for a proper and responsible state budget.
Also, the JFC acted upon my request to increase K-12 public education funding. Though the funding may not be exactly what everyone was wishing for, it is an improvement over what the original budget provided. JFC passed a motion containing a $150 per pupil adjustment under revenue limits and an additional $150 increase in per pupil funding in categorical aid. This is a healthy increase for public education while still keeping property taxes low.
The JFC also approved the Governor's recommendations related to Medical Assistance. The plan allows for those at 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to be eligible for BadgerCare. Also, this budget motion allows for 98,800 more childless adults be added to the program. Finally, the Committee added that if the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has not certified private insurance exchanges by October 15th, 2013, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will cover parents and caretaker relatives whose family income does not exceed 200 percent of the FPL, under the BadgerCare Plus program for 90 days starting December 31st, 2013.
Finally, on the last day of the JFC executive sessions, the committee members passed an all-inclusive tax reduction proposal that nearly doubles the reductions proposed by the Governor in his budget. Under this budget motion, individual income tax rates would change to the following lowered levels:
It is very encouraging that the JFC took the income tax cuts even further than proposed to help those who most need it, the middle class. If they remain intact, these reductions will be among the largest in Wisconsin's state history.
Now that the JFC has concluded their work on this very important piece of legislation, the Assembly will be given first chance to review the document, debate it on the floor, and vote on the legislation. Then the Senate will have their turn and if the Senate agrees with the bill sent to them by the Assembly, it will go on to the Governor for his signature. Thank you to all of you who attended the public hearings or who contacted my office regarding various details in the early stages of the budget process. Though we all may not see eye to eye on every provision contained in this one bill, I do appreciate everyone's opinions and insights.
Venture Capital Legislation Passed with Overwhelming Support
Yesterday, the state Assembly passed Assembly Bill 181, the venture capital investment program legislation, by a vote of 91 to 2. This bipartisanship promotes the benefits of this program as it moves on to the Senate for their approval and then to the Governor.
The bill provides $25 million of taxpayer funds and a matching $25 million from private funds to help boost Wisconsin's start-up company growth. Any business that would receive grant money will be required to have their company's headquarters here in Wisconsin and have at least 50 percent of their full-time workforce here in the state.
My friend and former Wisconsin Department of Revenue and Administration Secretary, Mark Bugher (now the head of the UW-Madison Research Park), had this to say in support of Assembly Bill 181, "As chairman of the working group that studied Wisconsin's needs for a state-leveraged capital bill...I understand there are limits to how much the state can afford to invest in such a program - especially at the outset. I also know it is important to establish appropriate firewalls, to hire an independent fund-of-fund manager, and to listen to the marketplace when defining investment sectors that are most likely to produce jobs and financial returns quickly. Assembly Bill 181, in the amended form that will come to the Assembly floor, meets those criteria. As chairman of the Wisconsin Technology Council and director of the University Research Park, I support your continued efforts to help create companies and jobs for Wisconsin"
Venture capital is a key element in boosting any economy. Start-up companies and small businesses are the foundation to job growth and economic recovery. This grant program will encourage our state's businesses from leaving Wisconsin to pursue similar funding in other states.
75th Anniversary of the Great River Road
This week, members of the Legislature, along with Secretary Stephanie Klett and Secretary of Transportation Mark Gottlieb honored the 75th Anniversary of the Great River Road. Governor Walker issued a proclamation recognizing this milestone. This scenic road is Wisconsin's only designated National Scenic Byway and is the most scenic drive in the entire United States based on a 2012 survey.
The Great River Road consists of 250 miles along the Mississippi River and extends 3,000 miles through ten states, from Wisconsin and Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. This Scenic Byway was developed in 1938 by Franklin Roosevelt and is the oldest Byway in the United States. Wisconsin State Highway 35 runs along the west coast of our 93rd district from Prescott to Pepin, which I believe is the most beautiful stretch of the Byway. I highly encourage you to stop and shop in any of the cities, villages, or towns along our stretch of the Byway including Prescott, Diamond Bluff, Hager City, Bay City, Maiden Rock, Stockholm, or Pepin.
If you visit the website of the Great River Road you can download a free audio tour, review maps of the Byway, and make plans for a summer vacation along the great Mississippi. Please visit the website for more information: http://wigrr.com/.
Don't Forget to Complete my Spring Survey
To complete the survey online, you can visit my legislative website, http://petryk.assembly.wisconsin.gov.
Your thoughts and opinions on the topics in my spring survey are of the utmost importance to me. I appreciate you taking the time to help!
Upcoming Events in the 93rd Assembly District
Maiden Rock Summerfest
Fall Creek Lions Fest
Ellsworth Cheese Curd Festival
Mondovi Friendship Days
July 20-21 and 24-28th
17th Annual Breakfast in the Valley
June 14th; 5-10:00 a.m.
Eau Claire County Expo Center 5530 Fairview Dr.
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Pepin County Town & Country Dairy Breakfast
June 15th; 7-11:00 a.m.
W7623 County Road ZX
Arkansaw, WI 54721
Pierce County Dairy Breakfast
June 22nd; 7-11:00 a.m.
LoRan Rolling Acres - Randy & Lori Larson
W1285 County Rd U
Plum City, WI 54761
Eau Galle Community Swimming Lessons
Sponsored by Eau Galle sportsman club
Durand Rod and Gun Club Chicken Dinners
July 11, 25
August 8, 22
September 5, 19
October 3, 17
Greater Insurance Service of Durand (715) 672-5921
Mondovi Insurance-Mondovi (715)926-3341