Dear Friends,

Happy Valentine's Day! I have some sweet news for you.
 
Thanks to our better than estimated returns, the budget surplus is now estimated at $818 million. Republicans are working on returning more of your money back to where it belongs - in your wallet.
 
Last month, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau released its January revenue projections. Their report states revenues are $818 million higher than expected. 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.

Instead of increasing government, we are going to give a big chunk of that surplus to you. Today, Republicans announced a plan that will reduce state debt, provide another middle class tax cut, and lower the tax burden for Wisconsin's businesses.
 
It's exciting to be able to add to the more than $8 billion in tax relief we have delivered since 2011. In the last budget, 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. These tax cuts will help keep our economy going and make sure you have more money in your pockets.

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!
Huge Turnout for Holocaust Education Bill
On Wednesday, I had the honor of speaking to a packed hearing room in support of my bipartisan bill with State Representative Jon Plumer of Lodi that will require Holocaust education in Wisconsin schools.
 
Around 100 people - including two Holocaust survivors showed up to support the bill. I'm excited to report that their efforts worked. The bill was unanimously approved by the Assembly Committee on State Affairs on Thursday.
 
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.  
 
Assembly Bill 816 adds Holocaust education to the model academic standards for social studies. In addition, it guarantees that Wisconsin students learn about the Holocaust at least once during middle school and once during high school.
 
Holocaust education is currently required in 11 states with legislation pending in 17 others.
Our goal is to ensure that Wisconsin students understand the important lessons of the Holocaust and the dangerous consequences of rising anti-Semitism and religious bigotry.

You can find out more about our bill and learn some of the moving stories from Holocaust survivors by reading this story in the Milwaukee Jewish Chronicle and this story from Fox6.

I'd like to especially thank Bev Greenberg and her daughter Kari Alltman for making sure so many people from all over Wisconsin were able to show their support for Assembly Bill 816.
Assembly Approves Increased Penalties for Repeat Drunk Drivers
On Tuesday, the State Assembly overwhelmingly approved a bill I authored with Representative Jim Ott to increase penalties for repeat drunk driving. Our bill triples the minimum sentencing for 5th and 6th offenses from six months to 18 months.
 
In this day and age, there is no excuse for driving under the influence. I’m proud of our efforts to get people with drug and alcohol issues the additional help they need through initiatives like the Treatment, Alternative, and Diversion program. These bills strengthen our drunk driving laws but also give people the chance to show they have made a positive change.
 
The bill now heads to Governor Evers office to be signed into law.
Budget Committee Approves Tougher on Crime Bill
This week, I chaired the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance as we approved several bills including my bill to cut down on carjacking.
 
The committee unanimously approved my bill with Representative Jim Ott to provide grants to communities to combat car theft. With this funding, communities can put more police on the streets and develop strategic plans to reduce crime. It's my hope the bill will be taken up by the full State Senate next week.
 
Also this week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety unanimously approved another one of my bills that is part of the Tougher on Crime Package. Representative Dan Knodl and I wrote a bill that will help protect victims and witnesses at trial.
 
Protecting crime victims and witnesses will lead to more convictions and make sure criminals can't intimidate their way to a mistrial.
 
Our bill makes any attempt to intimidate a victim of domestic abuse a Class G felony. (A Class G felony is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, a maximum fine of $25,000, or both.)
 
It's my hope the full State Senate will vote on both of these bills soon.
Senate Scholar Robyn George
Congratulations to Robyn George, who attends Menomonee Falls High School, on completing her week in the State Capitol.
 
Robyn was part of the Senate Scholar Program, where students learns first-hand how the Legislature works.

If you would like to learn more about the Senate Scholar Program, click here for more information and an application form.
Wisconsin is Still Winning!
Blue Books Available
Around the 8th...
I love our libraries!
 
Did you know that every week, Wisconsin residents check out around one million items?
 
It was great to meet with our local library directors as part of the Wisconsin Library Association lobby day this week!
It's fantastic to meet so many people from our area who are lobbying to end Alzheimer's Disease.
 
There are more than 110,000 people in Wisconsin suffering from this disease. There are also nearly 200,000 people taking care of those with Alzheimer's.
 
That's why in the state budget, I fought to provide more funding to keep and retain home healthcare workers. Until there is a cure, I will work to make sure our state provides support for those who are fighting the disease and their family who are fighting alongside them.
On Wednesday, I was honored to be named a "Friend of History" from the Wisconsin Historical Society.
 
Our great state is full of amazing stories from remarkable people. I'm grateful to have these historians making sure those tales are not lost to time.
 
Thank you to these great folks from the Wisconsin Maritime Museum for coming to Madison to present this award.

I also got to meet with some future occupational therapists from our area this week!
 
It was great to hear about their goals and the many ways occupational therapy can improve our state. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me.
Click the picture above for more information.