Dear Friends,

Wisconsin's economy finished 2018 strong. Not only did we finish with a $588.5 million surplus, but there's more good news on the job front.

Our state added nearly 45,000 private sector jobs last year, including nearly 18,000 manufacturing jobs. We are also on the 11th straight month where our unemployment rate stayed at or below 3%. That's great news.

With more people employed in Wisconsin, more people are getting the chance to own their own home. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), helped nearly 3,900 first-time homeuyers in 2018. It was their best year since 2007.

According to WHEDA, 97% of those mortgages went to first-time home buyers. Owning a home helps many families achieve economic success, and it's good for the economy! With low unemployment and major employers moving to Wisconsin, we need agencies like WHEDA to help new workers make Wisconsin their home.

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

On, Wisconsin!
Middle-Class Tax Cut Proposed
Thanks to Republican reforms, Wisconsin is in great financial shape. 

We have ended eight straight years with a surplus, and cut taxes by more than $8 billion dollars. At a time when our state has a surplus, we should look for a way to return it to those who provided it. 

I'm excited about a middle-class tax cut plan offered by Republicans to make good on a promise made by Governor Evers during the election. I believe we can find a solution to provide tax relief for the middle-class without hurting Wisconsin farmers like the Governor originally proposed. I believe tax cuts should give money back to the people who provided it, not redistribute others' wealth the way the governor is demanding.

His plan scales back a tax credit that benefits farmers and small business owners. Recently, a tax advisor wrote about the credit on the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation website stating: "This credit is a huge benefit to our agricultural community. It reduces the tax burden on farmers, leaving more income to invest back into the business. This credit is very beneficial to farms of all sizes."

Starting the new legislative session with a bi-partisan tax cut for the middle class shows there is a true willingness to work together and deliver real results for the people of Wisconsin. 

I look forward to working with the Assembly and getting a more complete review of our state's finances from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This is a great opportunity to deliver a win for the taxpayers of Wisconsin, not just a win for Republicans or Democrats. 
How Step Therapy Can Affect Your Care
Last week, John Nygren and I introduced legislation to reform step therapy in Wisconsin. Click on the video above to see how step therapy can block patients from getting the care that their doctor prescribed.

It’s not cost efficient to require patients to try and fail a drug in order to receive the medicine their doctor actually prescribed. There are times when step therapy needs to be overridden, and this bill puts those situations into Wisconsin law. 

The legislation creates five common-sense exemptions for step therapy: 
  1. A patient already tried and failed with the drug the insurance company is requiring them to try.
  2. The required drug is expected to be ineffective based on the known clinical characteristics of the patient and the known characteristics of the prescription drug regimen.
  3. The required prescription drug is not in the best interest of the patient, based on medical necessity.
  4. The patient is stable on a prescription drug selected by their health care provider for the medical condition under consideration while on their current or previous health insurance or health benefit plan.
  5. The required prescription drug is contraindicated or will likely cause an adverse reaction by or physical or mental harm to the patient.
TMJ4 Highlights Drunk Driving Bills
Recently, I sat down with Fox 6 in Milwaukee to talk about the bills I am working on with State Representative Jim Ott to help reduce drunk driving in our state. Click on the link above to watch the story!

Our bills:
  • Make fifth or sixth OWI offense’s new minimum at least 18 months confined to prison.
  • Create a sentence of at least five years in prison for homicide while OWI.
  • Make all first offense OWI convictions a Class C misdemeanor with potential fine of up to $500, jail time up to 30 days, or both. After five years without another OWI related offenses, a petition to the court could reduce the conviction to a civil violation.
  • Require all first-time offenders to make a personal appearance in court. 
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
My office will be closed on Monday, January 21st in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
School Choice Week Starts Sunday
I'm proud to be one of the original authors of the bill that created School Choice in Wisconsin. I support choice because every child deserves access to a quality education.

If you'd like to learn more about education options in Wisconsin, please click the picture above.
Around the 8th...