Dear Friends,

This week, responsible budgeting by a state agency is continuing a trend of bond rating upgrades in Wisconsin.  The  Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) saw its credit rating boosted by Standard and Poor's Global Ratings.  The State of Wisconsin is on a roll when it comes to our bond ratings.

Wisconsin's bond rating was upgraded three times last year by three different agencies.   Fitch Ratings improved our rating from "AA" to "AA+," their second highest possible ranking.  T he Kroll Bond Rating Agency also improved our ranking  in two separate categories to their second-highest rating.   In August, Moody's  upgraded our rating to just below AAA.  

It's not just our fiscal responsibility that is getting national attention.  W isconsin is one of the best states in the nation   to raise a family according to WalletHub.com!  Our state ranked sixth in the survey of 50 states.  We scored very high marks for affordability (4th).  Making Wisconsin the best state in the nation to live, work, raise a family, and to retire remains a top priority for me! 

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 To Restore Historic Tax Credit Has Public Hearing

The Historic Tax Credit is revitalizing many of Wisconsin's communities.  However, funding for the credit was capped by a budget veto.  We are working with Governor Walker to come up with a fiscally responsible way to maintain this highly successful program.
 
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions, and Rural Issues held a public hearing on a bipartisan bill I am authoring with State Representative Mike Rohrkaste (R-Neenah) to restore the state's successful Historic Tax Credit.  
 
Many downtowns throughout Wisconsin owe their revitalization to the Historic Tax Credit. It's a low risk - high return program because the state doesn't pay until the project is complete.  Instead of being an eyesore, these rehabilitated historic buildings are getting a new life and are popular destinations.
 
In 2014, 60% of all projects using the tax credit were vacant for more than 20 years.  A recent study by Baker Tilly shows over a 10-year period the Historic Tax Credit returned $8 to the state for every $1 invested.  The study also showed that between 2014 and 2016 the tax credit generated more than $600 million in economic output.  

Without the credit, many abandoned historic buildings will stay that way and not add to their communities.  Across the country, many main streets are dying.  But here in Wisconsin, they are tourist destinations.  The Historic Tax Credit cap is a key reason why development in some communities is on hold.  

Currently, projects in Thiensville, Oshkosh, Cedarburg, Fond du Lac, La Crosse, and Madison are in limbo because of the cap.  This legislation will provide the certainty needed for these projects to continue and for more buildings to be saved from the wrecking ball.  

It's my hope this important bill will soon be voted on in committee so the full State Senate can vote on it.
Senate, Assembly Committees Approve WINS Act



Silicon Valley, North Carolina's Research Triangle, and soon Wisconsin's own "Wisconn Valley" are examples of how industries can cluster together to increase productivity and innovation.  It's a successful model that works.  That's why I am working on a bill with State Representative Adam Neylon (R-Pewaukee) to encourage even more business clusters in Wisconsin.

It's called the  Wisconsin Workforce and Innovation Network for Success (WINS) Act, and this week committees in both the State Senate and State Assembly overwhelmingly approved the bill.
 
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.
 
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.
 
With many new companies choosing Wisconsin because of our business environment, clusters can help ease their transition. This bill will help build on the many success stories in Wisconsin and take our business climate to the next level.
 
On Tuesday, Senate Bill 525 was approved by a vote of 5-2.  On Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Small Business approved the Assembly version, Assembly Bill 640 by a unanimous 15-0 vote.  Both bills are available for a full vote in each house.
Around the 8th...
Thank you to everyone at  Frank Beer Distributors, Inc. for the fantastic tour of Beer Capitol Distributing  in Sussex on Thursday!
Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
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