Dear Friends,

Great news, Wisconsin’s economy continues to be strong. On Thursday, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its January revenue projections. Their report states revenues are $818 million higher than expected. This, along with deposits in the Rainy Day Fund, brings the state to an estimated balance of $620 million at the end of the 2019-2021 biennium. Thanks to these additional revenues, the state’s Rainy Day Fund could reach its highest level ever of $845 million and could top $1 billion by June of 2021.

We didn’t get here by accident. Thanks to careful budgeting, reforms, and more than $8 billion in tax cuts, our economy continues to grow and prosper. We also prevented Governor Evers from hiking taxes by more than $1 billion.

His budget would have spent $1,000 for every man, woman, and child in the state and created a structural deficit of $2 billion. We won’t let our state go back now.
With this new revenue, Republicans will continue to look for ways to protect taxpayers instead of growing government.

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.wisconsin.gov.

On, Wisconsin!
Governor Evers Praises Republican Budget in State of the State
 I was encouraged to hear Governor Evers celebrate the investments in the budget passed by the Joint Committee on Finance and Republicans – even though not a single Democrat voted in favor of the plan. Ironically, Governor Evers said that 95% of the bills he signed were bipartisan. That could have been even higher if Democrats had supported these investments instead of playing politics.

Wisconsin continues to thrive because Republicans prevented Governor Evers' very expensive budget plan. Instead, Republicans delivered a balanced budget that taxpayers could afford. We delivered a middle-class tax cut and provided the largest real dollar increase for K-12 education in our state’s history. Our reforms and careful budgeting helped turn around Wisconsin’s economy, and we won’t go back.

The governor also talked about how he is traveling the state. This is a good sign, because too often his ideas continue to originate from Madison. He ignored rural Wisconsin in his last budget and even tried to raise taxes on businesses that supply farmers. I’m glad he is realizing his mistake.

Governor Evers didn't talk about several crucial issues in his State of the State address. I’m disappointed the governor continues to ignore the workforce shortage in our state. It’s also shocking the former Department of Public Instruction Secretary refuses to address why so many students aren’t reading at their grade level. Instead of lecturing, I encourage him to listen to voices throughout Wisconsin and learn to work together on these issues.

I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I have accomplished, not only this session but over the last decade. Our reforms and investments are working. The state of the state is strong. Now, it’s time to continue moving Wisconsin forward.
Darling Introduces Holocaust Education Bill
The statistics are troubling.

  • Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults who said the same.
  • A 2018 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents in Wisconsin showed a 22% increase in anti-Semitic incidents.
  • More than 25% of all the recorded anti-Semitic incidents in Wisconsin last year took place among students or on campus.
  • Nationally, assaults against Jews nearly doubled in 2018.
  • Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed could not identify Auschwitz.

That's why, with the help of the Wisconsin-based Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center, I am introducing legislation to require Holocaust education in our schools. Click on the video above from Channel 12 to hear why this bill is so important.

As the number of living Holocaust survivors and witnesses dwindle, it is up to us to ensure that the unforgivable events of the Holocaust are never forgotten and never repeated. 
Senate Unanimously Approves Four Darling Bills Aimed at Homelessness, Mental Health, and Adoption
On Tuesday, the State Senate unanimously approved four of my bills!

First, I authored a bill with Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke to help fund and renovate homeless shelters throughout the state.

Emergency shelters are a crucial safety net in our state. Our bill gives those shelters a 50% bump in funding. Shelters will also have the opportunity to earn performance bonuses for successfully transitioning homeless people into permanent housing. In 2018, 18,197 people stayed in an emergency shelter. Hopefully, this additional funding will help get more people off the streets and on the road to success.

The Senate also approved my bill with Representative Mike Rohrkaste of Neenah to enable mental health providers to receive reimbursements for consultations with parents about their child. This will help make sure parents are aware of and participating in their children's treatment plans.

There was another unanimous vote in the State Senate for a very important bill I authored with Representative Cindi Duchow of the Town of Delafield to help prevent suicides among young people. Tragically, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in our state. For kids between the ages of 10 and 18, it's the second leading cause of death. Our bill will help fund peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs for our schools. Peer-to-peer programs like Hope Squad and Sources of Strength are making a real difference in preventing suicides.

The programs help change the way kids talk about mental health, train peers to identify signs of crisis and seek help, and train student leaders for kids to contact when they need additional support. Peer-to-Peer programs will help kids see a support network in their school and help them understand that they are not alone.

Finally, a bill I authored with Representative John Mursau of Crivitz will help families looking to adopt children. Too many Wisconsin kids are aging out of care. As a state, we need to do more to help kids find permanency.

This bill helps adoptive parents to take on complex adoptions for our kids who need loving homes. My bill will expand eligibility for adoption assistance to include children over age seven or with one sibling. This bill will help more foster youth find permanency, keep siblings together, and aid adoptive families. 
Bills Aimed at Protecting Child Welfare, Children's Mental Health, Veterans Have Hearings
On Wednesday, I testified with Representative Joan Ballweg of Markesan, State Senator LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, and Representative Jill Billings of La Crosse on two important bipartisan bills.

As federal law changes, we need to update our state statutes.

Our bill updates our laws to make sure our child welfare providers are still eligible for federal funds. It also makes sure taxpayers don’t pay more than their fair share to keep our child welfare system running.
On Thursday, I testified with Representative Jim Steineke in the Senate Committee on Health our bill that will allow the Medical College of Wisconsin to create a school-based mental health consultation pilot program. It is crucial that our schools are able to deliver mental health services to youth. 

According to a 2018 report from the Office of Children's Mental Health, 24% of Wisconsin teens have been diagnosed with a mental illness. The same report shows our state is lacking in providing access to the care they need.  

Our bill will allow the Medical College of Wisconsin to create a school-based mental health consultation pilot program. The pilot would be run by the Medical College of Wisconsin and funded with $175,000 annually from the Department of Health Services. School personnel will be educated on how to manage mental health concerns in the classroom, where to refer complex cases, and will also provide educational training seminars.  
Finally, I also testified on my bill to provide more opportunities for veterans. Wisconsin has long been known as a state that provides great benefits for our veterans. One of our most successful benefits is the Wisconsin GI Bill.

Our version of the GI Bill offers tuition remission for eligible Wisconsin veterans and their eligible children and spouses that attend public institutions of higher education in Wisconsin. On Thursday, I testified with Representative Tony Kurtz of Woneoc on a bill that will make our GI bill even better.

Our bill will create a parallel program to the WI GI Bill to include private nonprofit institutions. This legislation helps bring equality to our system by creating a new grant program that complements our current system and continues to prioritize our veterans. 

It's my hope that each of these bills will be voted on soon.
Major Breakthrough in Fight Against Addiction
This week, I was proud to stand with my friend Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren this morning to announce a partnership to expand and speed up access to medication-assisted treatment for addiction.

Most major health insurance companies are agreeing to remove prior authorization requirements for most substance use disorder treatments. This change will save lives and help more people get the care they need.

Wisconsin is a national leader in combating opioid addiction thanks to the efforts of Representative Nygren!
Wisconsin is Still Winning!
Blue Books Available
Around the 8th...
I had a great time at the Menomonee Falls Chamber of Commerce Annual Award Banquet on Thursday evening.

It was great to talk to Menomonee Falls Police Chief Anna Ruzinski and the Executive Director of the Menomonee Falls Chamber Toni Gumina. Also thanks to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald for attending.
Click the picture above for more information.