State Senate Incumbent and Candidate Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, has been an advocate for issues that surround rural Wisconsin, especially for the 17th District where he serves. However, he said more needs to be done to make sure rural areas stay relevant.
Marklein was first elected to the state senate in 2014 and is seeking a second term to represent the 17th district. He served on the State Assembly in 2010. Marklein is challenging Democratic Candidate Kriss Marion for the seat in the fall election.
Marklein said he spends time traveling to village meetings, community events and town hall events to receive more insight of the issues surrounding the 17th District, which include Juneau, Sauk, Grant, Lafayette, Juneau, and Richland counties. He said he usually puts about 40,000 to 50,000 miles on his car per year.
“I don’t think anybody has been strongly advocating for rural issues other than me,” Marklein said. “We need to continue to push more money to our rural areas.”
He said one of the biggest challenges facing the state is transportation and infrastructure. While he said he’s seen some significant improvements, including 52 projects and $83 million in road projects completed this summer, the process and financial resources need to be handled more efficiently. That’s something he hopes to address if re-elected to a second term.
“It’s clear we need to continue to drive more dollars to our rural roads,” he said. “We need to be efficient, we need to make sure we are building roads and bridges and structures as efficiently as we possibly can.”
Marklein said an increase in school funding to $200 per pupil per school district, which is now $204 and the passing of the Sparsity Aid bill are achievements he’s proud of. He said more needs to be done to address declining enrollment in rural school districts. Marklein, a certified public accountant, said a lot of school finances include fixed costs and less aid could affect its budget. To address the problem he said the funding formula has to be changed to provide relief for school districts that have declining enrollment.
“The problem we have is not just a problem in my senate district it’s a problem around the state of Wisconsin,” he said.
Marklein said some of his achievements during his term include an increase in broadband investments to rural communities, helping restructuring the grant program and identifying new funding sources to make sure communities with the most need and demand received money for broadband access. The 17th District was recently awarded $1.6 million in broadband grants to for a total of six projects to connect 140 businesses, 1,267 homes and eight community facilities including the Village of Spring Green and the Town of Delton. It’s a component he would like to continue if re-elected.
“It’s been very, very significant,” Marklein said. “Nobody has done more for rural broadband than what we have done in my office.”Editor’s Note: This article was updated Oct. 31 to correct the spelling of Howard Marklein’s last name.