Dear Friends,

I'm excited to report that I am launching a brand new website today!  You can check it out here.  My hope is that it makes it easier for you to stay in contact with me and to follow state government on whatever device you use.

This week, I also launched a new Facebook page.  W e post regular updates on issues which affect you.  It's a fun and interactive page to catch up on the latest news as well as regular features such as Wisconsin Wednesday, Thankful Thursday, and Friday Facts.  Please take a moment to follow me on all of our social media sites - the links are listed below.

As always, if you have any ideas on how to improve our great state, including how to improve the budget, please do not hesitate to contact me at  Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov or 608-266-5830.   

On Wisconsin!

Sen. Darling, Rep. Kooyenga to Look at Steps to Ensure Implementation of School Facilities Law
A recent report by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) shows Milwaukee is consistently not making vacant school buildings available for sale to education operators even though state law clearly requires them to do so. The report raises serious concerns, and we will be looking for ways to make sure the law is being followed as intended.

Good schools help anchor neighborhoods and increase property values. Vacant buildings don't help at all.  Every day in Milwaukee, kids walk past taxpayer-funded empty school buildings or ride buses across town at great expense because these vacant schools remain unsold. It's not fair to taxpayers and it's certainly not fair to the children and parents.
 
In 2015, the state legislature passed a law requiring that vacant or underutilized school buildings owned by the City of Milwaukee be made available for sale to other school operators. A recent report by WILL indicates that, despite this law, few of these properties have been offered for sale by the city and efforts by several different school operators to purchase facilities that have been made available have been stymied by the city.
 
From the WILL report :
  • The City of Milwaukee failed to list all of the vacant and underutilized buildings for sale and, according to the city's website, only 5 of the 15 empty buildings can be purchased.
  • The city's implementation of the law has created obstacles to the purchase of these buildings - creating additional hurdles and unnecessary delays and ignoring state mandated deadlines. For example, Right Step, a choice school that predominately serves children expelled from MPS, was denied the right to purchase a building, 10 months after submitting a letter of interest.
  • Milwaukee taxpayers have spent over $10 million to maintain nearly 40 buildings that are vacant or operating at less than 50% capacity.
     
Wisconsin Children's Caucus

On Monday, I hosted an informational hearing with the Wisconsin Legislative Children's Caucus in Milwaukee on Community Efforts to Strengthen Families.  It was great to meet with Milwaukee area legislators and the other Co-chairs of the Children's Caucus to learn what resources are provided in our area to help families.  We heard from the Parenting Network, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Milwaukee's Healthy Infant Court, and the Kenosha County Division of Children and Family Services.  While we still have a long way to go, it was great to hear what resources our families can access!
 
This informational hearing is just one of a series that the Children's Caucus is hosting across the state.  I am proud to be a Co-chair of this caucus, as we work to improve the life of every Wisconsin child.  

If you'd like to learn more about the work of the Children's Caucus or watch any of these meetings, please like our Facebook page or look at our website
Budget Committee Announces Public Hearings
Senator Darling speaks to the crowd before a public hearing on the state budget last session.

This week, we announced the locations for six public hearings on the budget throughout our great state. 

Every budget cycle, the Joint Finance Committee travels the state to hold several public hearings on the state budget. Our goal is to hear from as many Wisconsinites as possible about how we can improve upon the governor's budget recommendations and continue to prioritize what's important to Wisconsin residents.
 
This year, the Committee will be holding 6 public hearings at the following locations:  
  1. Monday, April 3 - UW-Platteville, Platteville
  2. Wednesday, April 5 - State Fair Park, Milwaukee
  3. Friday, April 7 - Berlin High School, Berlin
  4. Tuesday, April 18 - Spooner High School, Spooner
  5. Wednesday, April 19 - Ellsworth High School, Ellsworth
  6. Friday, April 21 - Marinette High School, Marinette 
More information regarding the times of the public hearings will be released at a later date.
 
I highly encourage you to attend one of the public hearings if you're able. Hearing comments, concerns, and opinions from Wisconsin citizens is key for us to craft the best possible budget for our state, and we look forward to working with you as we begin the 2017-19 State Budget process.

Around the 8th...

Templeton Middle School in Sussex visited the Capitol this week!
Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
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