Dear Friends,

This week, Governor Tony Evers delivered his first State of the State Address. Despite what you may have heard from the governor, the state of our state is very strong.

Consider these facts:
  1. Wisconsin ranks number one in the Midwest for Health Care Access and Patient Safety
  2. Wisconsin ranks second in the nation and best in the Midwest for manufacturing jobs created over the past year
  3. CNBC ranks Wisconsin as the 17th best state in the nation for business

These are just some of the reasons that 57% of voters believe Wisconsin is headed in the right direction. Those rankings didn't come by accident. Our great state is better off because of Republican reforms and careful, responsible budgeting. And we aren't going to back down now. You can read more about my response to the governor's speech below.

Congratulations to our very own Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. "The Greek Freak" will lead the Eastern Conference in the NBA All-Star Game next month in Charlotte. Giannis and LeBron James will pick the squads for the game.

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!
State of the State Address
Senator Darling speaks with the media after Tuesday's State of the State Address
Governor Evers takes over at one of the most prosperous times in state history. Thanks to Republican leadership, Wisconsin is in a better place than it was the last time a Democrat controlled the Governor's Mansion. No matter how he spins it, our economy is in great shape.

Our economy doesn't need fixing, it needs fanning. We need more skilled workers. That was one area I wish Governor Evers would have talked about in his speech. 

The governor talked a lot about connecting the dots, but didn't connect his ideas to how he will pay for them. He talked a lot about bipartisanship, but so far, his only answer to the legislature has been 'no.'

I am still optimistic and know we can find a way we can work together, but Republicans are united. We will not raise taxes, and we won't back down from our reforms.
RISE Act Can Stop Revolving Door
The biggest challenge to our state's economy right now is finding enough workers. I'm working on a bill to help ease that problem by connecting companies with dedicated workers. It's my hope the bill will also help stop the revolving door of prison.

Studies show the sooner an ex-offender finds employment, the less likely they are to return to prison. It costs taxpayers between $30,000 and $40,000 a year to house one inmate. Helping a reformed ex-offender will stop the cycle of returning to crime when they can't find work and save taxpayer money. A new bill I am authoring with State Representative Rob Hutton of Brookfield will help give ex-offenders another chance and employers more confidence to hire them. 

The RISE (Reduce Incarceration, Secure Employment) Act would create a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) for ex-offenders who are not likely to pose a risk to public safety. Those with certain offenses, particularly those involving violent or sexual crimes, would not be eligible to apply under the bill.  

Under the bill, an ex-offender can apply for a certificate after they are released from confinement. They would submit an application to the Council on Offender Employment. The Department of Corrections (DOC) will provide documentation including the ex-offender's highest level of education, treatment completed, work evaluations, and risk assessment reports for the council to determine if the offender would be likely to pose a risk to public safety.

Regardless of the crime committed, the CQE would still not apply to certain facilities, like childcare centers or some healthcare facilities-where our most vulnerable populations could be at risk. A CQE does not apply to jobs substantially related to the applicant's crime. For instance, someone convicted of accounting fraud could not use the CQE to get a Certified Public Accountant license.

Many inmates try to learn new skills while they are in prison, but still can't find a job when they get out. The RISE Act will help make use of those skills which are growing in demand in our state. This bill provides reassurance to employers that these individuals are ready to work.
Darling Earns Champion of Work Award
Recently, I was honored with the Foundation for Government Accountability's 2018 Champion of Work Award. The foundation thanked me for my work on legislation which creates a process where an ex-offender may obtain an occupational license and a chance at a career. 
School Choice Week Facts
Around the 8th...
Representative Jim Ott and I had a great meeting with some area members of the Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Thanks to Mike Friedman, Denise Vandenbush-Kohlmann, and Jane Weiss for making the trip to Madison!
On Thursday, I had a fabulous time at the Menomonee Falls Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Banquet!
I'd like to thank University of Wisconsin-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank and my fellow UW alums Ted and Mary Kellner for recently holding an event to recognize my support of UW over the years. I am humbled and grateful for the honor.