Dear Friends,

After months of tough negotiations, the Joint Committee on Finance wrapped up our work on the state budget.  Governor Walker gave us a solid outline, and I believe we've made it even better.  

Now that the bill is out of the Joint Committee on Finance, it must be approved by both the State Senate and the State Assembly.  It's our hope we can send the budget back to Governor Walker later next week.  You can read more about what is in the budget below.

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

On Wisconsin!

Budget Clears Joint Finance Committee 

I am proud that this budget will continue to move Wisconsin in the right direction. From day one, it was important to us to take the Governor's proposed budget and improve on it. Together, we have crafted a budget that puts Wisconsin working families first.
 
My top priority is to provide our children the education that they deserve. By providing an additional $639 million directly into the classroom, the budget will have an immediate impact on the lives of children and educators in our state. Historic investments like this give children and educators the tools they need to succeed in school and in life.

In addition to ensuring a quality education for our children, we have once again protected the taxpayer. This budget does not raise sales, income or property taxes. Property taxes will once again be lower than they were in 2010 when Governor Walker took office. We are giving families the power to keep more of their hard-earned money.
 
Unlike many states, our budget is balanced,  our prudent fiscal budgeting and common sense reforms created a blueprint that will continue to move Wisconsin forward. We are setting aside $200 million dollars, combined with the rainy day fund, to help protect taxpayers if there are any economic challenges in the next two years.
 
Wisconsinites deserve to take pride in their budget, and we believe this budget gives them just that. We would like to thank all of the service agencies that have put in countless hours and effort to help this process run smoothly.

I would also like to thank my colleagues on the Joint Committee on Finance.  It is a pleasure working with such a thoughtful and responsible team.
 JFC Approves Foxconn Bill

If I was in another state, I would say you were nuts if you didn't take this deal. Forty-nine other states wish they were Wisconsin right now because they know advanced manufacturing is the wave of the future.  It's going to create a whole different dynamic for our state.
 
Foxconn puts Wisconsin on the cutting edge of new technologies and manufacturing.  It's going to provide up to 13,000 high-tech, family-supporting careers.  The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce says Foxconn will add $78 billion to our state's GDP over the 15-year term of the package.  This is an opportunity we can't and we won't pass up.
 
I'm excited we were able to improve the Foxconn bill with more taxpayer protections, more training, and infrastructure improvements.  Foxconn will also have to follow every environmental regulation on the books.  This deal is good for taxpayers, good for our economy, and protects our environment.  I look forward to supporting the bill next week in the Senate.
Darling Testifies for Tougher OWI Laws

This week, I testified in favor of three bills I'm working on with Representative Jim Ott to curb drunk driving in our state.   

Getting behind the wheel and driving while intoxicated is a serious problem we face in Wisconsin. According to statistics provided by the Department of Transportation, in 2015 alone we had almost 24,000 OWI convictions. In the past, I have worked to address this chronic abuse of driving while intoxicated by working on legislation to provide harsher penalties, while also expanding access to treatment for these individuals. Due to some of these measures, the state of Wisconsin has continued to see a decrease in overall OWI convictions.
 
Unfortunately, there are instances where an individual's irresponsible act of driving drunk kills someone. In some of these cases, the driver is only incarcerated for two or three years. Senate Bill 73 creates a mandatory minimum of five years for these instances. When someone takes the life of another, they must be given a sentence that provides justice for the family members who have lost a loved one.  
 
Even though we have seen a decrease in overall OWI convictions in the past few years, one group of individuals that has seen an increase in convictions is 5th and 6th OWI offenders. Currently, OWI offenders in this category are at minimum required to be incarcerated for six months. It is my hope that Senate Bill 72 will deter individuals from getting behind the wheel intoxicated by increasing the mandatory minimum to 18 months in prison. With the expansion of treatment and diversion programs and other alternatives, it is my hope that Senate Bill 72 will never have to be used.

Assembly Bill 98, closes a loophole in the state's ignition interlock law. Currently, first-time OWI offenders whose blood alcohol concentration is 0.15 or higher, and all repeat OWI offenders are required to install an ignition interlock on an automobile registered to them.  The law requires that the interlock device is in place on the automobile at the time the driver's license is reinstated and must remain on the automobile until the order expires.  

However, there is a loophole in current law. Some OWI offenders break the law by driving before their license is reinstated. If this occurs and they are subject to a traffic stop, they will be cited for driving without a valid license, but will not face the more serious offense of violating the court order concerning the ignition interlock. This bill will close the loophole, and the individual will now be cited for driving without the ignition interlock.

Around the 8th...

Taste of Mequon is this weekend!  For more information visit here.
______________________________________________________
______________________________________________________

Saturday is also the annual Bayside Village Picnic from Noon to 5:00 pm at  Ellsworth Park, 600 East Ellsworth Lane.
Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
See what's happening on our social sites: