Dear Friends,

Breaking News: The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled last year's extraordinary session, which protected important reforms and existing state law, is constitutional. Both parties have used extraordinary sessions over the past 40 years. I applaud the Supreme Court for their common sense ruling.

Despite what you may have read, your property tax bill may be higher under Governor Tony Evers' plan than the one Republicans passed last week. The governor wants to ease the local property tax caps we put in place to keep your bill low. Without those caps, your property tax bill could potentially go up depending on where you live.

Our plan holds the line on property taxes. That will make a huge difference in your tax bill. Don't forget, Republicans eliminated the state portion of your property tax bill. We also have delivered more than $8 billion in tax relief and we aren't done yet. In the Republican budget, we deliver more than $500 million in tax relief.

Not only are we giving back more of your money, Republicans are making sure we are prepared if there is a downturn in the economy. Our budget plan doubles the Rainy Day Fund. Thanks to a transfer of $291 million, the Rainy Day Fund will grow to $617 million. That's great news for taxpayers. Our reforms, careful budgeting, and good economy are helping protect us in the future.

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 .

On, Wisconsin!
A Responsible Republican Budget
As the State Senate Chair of the budget-writing Joint Committee on Finance, I hear from a lot of people about how to spend your money. However, I strongly believe that when it comes to spending taxpayer money, it’s most important to listen to taxpayers. That’s why we held four statewide public hearings and listened to nearly 33 hours of public testimony.  

Those public hearings made it clear your priorities are education, roads, and health care. It was also clear that we shouldn’t raise taxes. I’m happy to report that Republicans are listening and making historic investments in those shared priorities with the money taxpayers have already provided. Our budget is sustainable and doesn’t dig a Doyle-sized deficit in the future. Our priority invests in people, not programs

Our school districts wanted three things; sustainable funding, an increase in per pupil funding, and more support for special education. And we delivered. Funding for public education will top $12 billion thanks to a $500 million increase we added to the budget. Our schools are getting more actual dollars than ever before. Special Education will get a nearly $100 million boost. We are delivering the same percentage increase that Tony Evers asked for when he ran the Department of Public Instruction.

We heard you loud and clear about fixing our roads. We are providing the largest increase in new revenue into our Department of Transportation in a generation. Our plan invests $156 million more into our local roads for repair. We’re also investing $320 million more in the state highway rehabilitation program. This revenue helps keep road projects off the state's credit cards. Not only do we borrow a lot less than the governor, but it's also the lowest level of transportation bonding since the 2001-2003 budget. I am excited to report we enumerated I-43 extending between Silver Spring Dr. and STH 60 in Milwaukee and Ozaukee Counties.

We also made significant investments in healthcare, children, and our workforce without expanding welfare. While staying within our means, Republicans invested in our providers, our long term care system, mental health services, and our children.  

Budgeting shouldn’t be any different in Madison than it is at your kitchen table. Just like you, Republicans used the money available and funded priorities. That’s how we turned our economy around and that’s how we will continue move our state forward.
ICYMI: Wisconsin Remains Great
In case you missed it, the rest of the country is catching on to the good things happening right here in Wisconsin.

Our great state is ranked among the best in the nation again. Wallethub picked the best states to live in and Wisconsin is ranked sixth. The online resource picked 51 categories including income growth, housing costs, and hospital quality.

It's great to see more national attention focused on Wisconsin.
Pro-Life Rally at State Capitol
Hundreds of pro-life supporters rallied at the State Capitol to urge Governor Evers to sign four common-sense protections for the unborn. Senate President Roger Roth of Appleton and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos of Rochester officially signed the bills before sending them on to the governor.

The bills prohibit your tax dollars from funding abortion, ban abortion for reasons of gender, nationality, race, or congenital disability, require medical care for babies who survive a botched abortion, and to provide information to women they still have time to change their mind after taking the abortion pill.

Sadly, Governor Evers vetoed these important protections without even considering them. I am disappointed he acted so hastily.
Step Therapy Bill Heads to Governor
An important health care reform I authored with Representative John Nygren is on it's way to Governor Evers for final approval. Our bill helps eliminate red tape put up by insurance companies in order to save money. It's called "Step Therapy" and it can prevent patients from getting the medication their doctor prescribed.

Step therapy is a process used by insurance companies that determines the order in which prescription drugs should be given to a patient. Doctors and patients will be able to work together to request exceptions to step therapy protocols if any of the following are true:

-The patient already tried the drug and failed.
-The drug is contraindicated for the patient. 
-The patient is already stable on a successful prescription.

These exceptions provide clarity for patients and doctors as they try to find a treatment plan that best suits the patient. This bill creates transparency in healthcare and speeds up the process for patients to receive the drug that is right for them.

I hope the governor sees how important this legislation is for patients and signs it into law.
Drunk Driving Bills Pass Assembly
Driving in Wisconsin could be safer soon. On Thursday, the Wisconsin State Assembly unanimously approved two bipartisan bills, authored by State Representative Jim Ott and myself, aimed at getting drunk drivers off our roads. 

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.  The bills take aim at both first-time and repeat drunk drivers:

Assembly Bill 15 makes first-time drunk driving offenders appear in court. Not only is a first-time offense not a crime in our state, but offenders also don't even have to show up to face the charge. 
Assembly Bill 17 creates a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for committing homicide while driving drunk. If a judge believes that sentence is too harsh, they must put their reasons in writing. 

If our laws treat repeat drunk driving seriously, hopefully people will start to get help and not repeat their mistakes. Our laws haven't been tough enough to deal with the problem. I hope that these changes will be a huge step in that direction.

The bills now head to the State Senate for further consideration
Assembly Approves Homeless Grants
The first step to ending our homelessness crisis is to get people off of the streets. This week, the State Assembly approved a bill I authored with Assembly Majority Jim Steineke of Kaukauna 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 opportunity to earn performance bonuses for successfully transitioning homeless people into permanent housing.

In 2015, more than 27,500 people received services or shelter for being homeless in our state. Hopefully, this additional funding will help get more people off the streets and on the road to success.
Around the 8th...