Dear Friends,

Did you notice something missing on your property tax bill this year?  In the state budget, we completely eliminated the state's portion of the property tax bill, the forestry mill tax.  An entire state tax - gone!

Overall, the average property tax bill this year will be lower than it was in 2010 and 2014.  In total, t axpayers will see $11.6 billion in tax relief due to our budget plan!  

As always, if you have any ideas on how to improve our great state, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at  Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov or 608-266-5830.   

On Wisconsin!

Darling Bill Helps Low-Income Gifted & Talented Students Reach For Their Highest Potential 

All students deserve the opportunity to succeed regardless of their background, zip code, or family's income.

Who knows how many scientists, engineers, musicians, artists, and community leaders we are missing out on because their family can't afford additional educational opportunities.  
 
On Friday, I unveiled a bi-partisan bill that creates an education savings account program for low-income, gifted and talented students.  Those accounts can help parents pay for textbooks, curriculum, tutors, lessons, fees, and tuition for their gifted and talented child.   This is another way to make sure our best and our brightest get the opportunity they need to succeed.
 
Students enrolled in any public, charter, or private school who are identified as gifted and talented and also satisfy the income limits for the free and reduced lunch program set forth by the federal government are eligible for the program. The current threshold for the reduced lunch program is $45,510 annually for a family of four.
 
Under the bill, 2,000 scholarships could be awarded in the amount of $1,000. These scholarships would be housed under the education savings account program and would allow for a parent to use the funds on eligible, state-authorized expenses.
 
Wisconsin is a national leader in ensuring every child has access to a quality education.  It's time we make sure every gifted and talented child also has the resources they need to reach their highest potential.

I am  currently seeking co-sponsors for the legislation.
WINS Act Gets a Public Hearing

This week, I testified in the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Local Government in favor of the Wisconsin Workforce and Innovation Network for Success (WINS) Act.  I authored the WINS Act to encourage and expand industry clusters in our state.

An industry cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. The concentration of related businesses and academia increases productivity, access to information and skilled labor, cooperative research, and innovation through competition.

In Wisconsin, many successful industries work together in clusters. Companies in agriculture, biotechnology, energy, dairy, bio-health, water technology, and plastics use this arrangement to lower costs and increase productivity and innovation.  My bill will help encourage more clusters and collaboration throughout our state because they work for Wisconsin.
 
The  WINS Act creates the Innovation Fund and Council to advise the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation on how to promote and expand the great work that is already taking place with clusters in our state. The fund is designed to promote innovation through competition, new product research and development, capacity building through industry cluster partnerships, and accelerate small businesses.

I'm happy to report the WINS Act had strong support from the business community, the Water Council, and the University System.  I hope the committee will schedule the bill for a vote soon.
Around the 8th...

Congratulations to Menomonee Falls!  Click here for more information on their fantastic academic news.
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Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
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