Dear Friends,

Congratulations to the Grafton School District! The District is one of the best communities in the country for music education. The recognition comes from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation. Grafton is one of only 623 school districts in the nation to receive the award.

I want to thank the North Shore Fire Department and Bayside Police Department for their efforts in saving the lives of more than 60 people. Last weekend, there was a terrible fire at the White Oaks Apartment complex in Bayside. Thanks to the efforts of our amazing first responders, everyone got out of the building alive. However, many of the residents lost everything. If you would like to help, the American Red Cross is accepting donations.

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!
Budget Public Hearing in Janesville
On Friday, I attended the day-long budget listening session in Janesville. It's the first of four statewide hearings.

I really enjoy these listening sessions. It is so important to hear directly from taxpayers. This year is especially important because Governor Evers wants a lot more of your money.

If you can, please take time to make your voice heard at one of the hearings. You can find out more about the remaining listening sessions below.
Budget Listening Sessions Announced
If you couldn't make the public hearing today in Janesville, there are three more scheduled in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 10 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
Oak Creek Community Center
8580 South Howell Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 

Monday, April 15 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
University of Wisconsin-River Falls
University Center
Riverview Ballroom #260
500 Wild Rose Avenue
River Falls, WI

Wednesday, April 24 (10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.)
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 
University Union - Phoenix Room
2430 Campus Court
Green Bay, WI

If you are unable to attend a public hearing in person, written comments can be emailed to the Committee at BudgetComments@legis.wisconsin.gov
JFC Holds Agency Hearings
On Wednesday and Thursday, the budget committee heard from several of Governor Evers agency heads.

The hearings gave members of the committee a chance to ask questions about some of the most important sections of the governor's budget.

Click on the picture above to see my opening comments.
Evers Digs Doyle-Sized Deficit 
Thanks to Republican reforms, Wisconsin starts the budget process with more than $1.8 billion in additional funding. That's one of the highest surpluses in 20 years.

Unfortunately, Governor Evers' budget spends all that and more. He's not just spending the money we have, Governor Evers is spending billions we don't have. This week, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau revealed Governor Evers' budget spends the state into a nearly $2 billion structural deficit.

His liberal wish list spends $83 billion dollars - $6 billion more than the last budget. That equals an extra thousand dollars of spending for every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin. And he doesn't stop there.

The Governor broke his promise to taxpayers that he wouldn't raise taxes. His budget hikes taxes more than $1 billion, borrows more than $2 billion, and includes the largest property tax hike for the typical homeowner in a decade.

Governor Evers' taxing, spending, and borrowing are not taking our state in a new direction, but moving us backward. Over the last eight years, Wisconsin has seen tremendous growth, it is disappointing that Governor Evers is choosing this path.

Luckily for taxpayers, Republicans are willing to do the hard work and deliver a budget that doesn't raise taxes, invests in priorities like education, and doesn't max out the credit cards.
MacIver Newsmakers Podcast
On Tuesday, I sat down with Matt Kittle from the MacIver Institute for their Newsmakers Podcast. We had a lively discussion about the governor's budget, the statewide listening sessions, and...Peabo Bryson.

Click on the picture above to hear the podcast.
OWI Bills Receive Public Hearing
Great news! All four of the bills I authored with Representative Jim Ott to toughen our drunk driving laws had a public hearing in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety on Thursday.

The bills will bring back increasing mandatory minimum sentences for repeat drunk drivers and those convicted of homicide while driving intoxicated. An important new bill will make the first offense a criminal misdemeanor and eliminates look-backs for second offense OWI. 

Under our bill, a person convicted of first offense OWI who does not commit any other OWI related offenses within a five-year period after the conviction may petition the court to change the conviction to a civil violation. This helps people who have made positive changes in their lives get a second chance with a clean slate.

Even though alcohol-related crashes have decreased in recent years, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports that alcohol remains the single greatest contributing cause of fatal crashes.  

It's my hope the committee will vote on the bills soon.
Darling and Born Demand Investments for High-Quality Childcare
Recently, Representative Mark Born of Beaver Dam and I found out that Governor Evers wasn't following a law we passed last session. According to information from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the governor is under-funding crucial bonuses for childcare providers. 

Access to quality childcare is crucial for working parents. By not following the law we passed, the governor is making it more difficult for high-quality childcare centers to stay in our communities.

This week, we sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers about a lack of investment by his administration into high-quality child care. 

Last session, Representative Born and I authored Act 236. The bi-partisan law increases the incentives for 4 and 5-star providers in the YoungStar System by 5%. According to data from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Evers administration is only providing a 1% increase for 4-star centers and a 2% increase for 5-star childcare centers. Those incentives are crucial to ensuring access to high-quality care for low-income kids. 

Wisconsin has a severe workforce shortage, and every working parent needs access to high-quality care. It is critical our high-quality childcare centers have access to the incentives given to them under the law.
Suicide Prevention Hopeline
Around the 8th...
Remember my friend Claire? She received a kidney from a living donor a few years ago. Claire and I recorded a public service announcement to encourage organ donation in 2016.

We had the chance to catch up this week at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. April is Donate Life month and to celebrate, the hospital hosted a Pause to Give Life Ceremony on Monday.

Claire is doing great and is a strong advocate for organ donation. If you haven't signed up yet, please visit DonateLifeWisconsin.org and become an organ donor.
The Brittney Gigl Memorial Scholarship Fund awards annual scholarships to Nicolet High School students. For more information, click on the image above.