The Wisconsin Legislature has completed our work on the State Budget. I am proud to say that our version of the state budget invests in the people of Wisconsin and the needs of our communities while protecting taxpayers. It is especially helpful for rural Wisconsin and I have worked hard to make sure the rural voice was heard in this discussion. Rural Wisconsin matters.
Our budget funds the priorities of the people I serve. We put a lot of money into the things our constituents told us to fund – roads, healthcare, education and more. We did not cut anything.
We increased funding for roads to nearly $1 billion by 2021, including a massive investment in local, rural roads of $156 million that will go directly to towns, counties and municipalities. We dedicated $1.6 billion for healthcare access and increased reimbursement rates for nursing homes, personal care workers and direct care workers. We also increased funding for rural hospitals.
Public Schools get $500 million more. Total spending for schools will be $12.3 billion in the next biennium. We responded to the three top requests from school districts – we increased per pupil aid, increased special education funding and made sure our funding is sustainable.
Our communities will have access to $44 million to expand rural broadband. The University System received a boost of more than $100 million. The University will also receive $1.2 billion in capital projects. We made significant investments in grants and staff to improve water quality. Finally, we funded the Dairy Task Force 2.0’s number one priority – the Dairy Innovation Hub.
On top of funding our priorities, we also included a Middle Class Tax Cut for working families. While every taxpayer will receive a cut as their income passes through the first two tax brackets, 89% of the people who will most benefit from the tax cut make less than $150,000 per year. This tax cut is made with existing resources that resulted from eight years of positive reforms. The taxpayers earned this cut.
The Legislature’s budget invests in the people and needs of all of our communities – rural, urban and suburban. We heard our constituents. We responded. We invested. I hope Gov. Evers signs this budget and gives our schools, communities and taxpayers certainty as we move into the new budget year.
Senator Howard Marklein, Spring Green