Our Representatives in the News

Representative Joel Kitchens

Kitchens applauded the Joint Committee on Finance on May 5 after they voted to restore funding to the Wisconsin Fund, which is used by low-income households and small businesses to repair or replace failing private onsite wastewater treatment systems (POWTS). “It is great to hear that the Joint Finance Committee restored funding to the POWTS grant program,” Rep. Kitchens said. “The Wisconsin Fund is used by many people in my district, the majority of whom are elderly and living on a fixed income. Without this grant, they would have no realistic way to replace their septic systems.” Since 1987, in Door County alone, the Wisconsin Fund has been used to assist nearly 1,000 property owners by distributing approximately $2.9 million for replacement of POWTS.

“Failing POWTS have contributed directly to contamination of drinking water in the First District,” explained Rep. Kitchens. “That is why I authored a budget motion requesting that funding be restored to the Wisconsin Fund as soon as I saw that the Governor’s budget proposal had removed it.” Governor Walker’s budget proposed moving POWTS from the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) to the Department of Natural Resources. The vote maintains that the POWTS program will remain with DSPS. Furthermore, the Finance Committee’s unanimous vote restored funding for the program on an ongoing basis.

“I was contacted by dozens of my constituents who expressed to me their dependence on the Wisconsin Fund,” Rep. Kitchens said. “Their input was crucial in strengthening my budget motion, so I would like to thank them for reaching out to my office. They played a large role in ultimately seeing funding for the POWTS grant restored.”

After the Joint Finance Committee finishes making modifications to the budget, it will move to the full Legislature for a vote.

Source:  Kitchens press release

Gov. Scott Walker

Governor Scott walker joined Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett on May 1 in announcing Wisconsin’s tourism economy topped $18.5 billion in 2014, a $1 billion boost from $17.5 billion in 2013. The announcement comes as they kick off this year’s National Travel and Tourism Week, May 2-10 during stops in Milwaukee, Green Bay, La Crosse and Hayward. The 5.5 percent increase was spurred by a rise in both visits and spending per trip. The tourism industry continues to show stable, long-term growth and according to just released economic impact figures, creates a positive image of the state. “The travel and hospitality industry continues to be an important and strong performing sector for Wisconsin’s economy,” Walker said. “Investing in tourism promotion and marketing at the national, state and local level is not only an effective way to attract visitors and grow the economy, it also enhances the image of the state as a place to live and do business.”

Source:  Walker press release

Representative Reid Ribble

Ribble released the following statement after voting on April 30 with a majority of the House of Representatives to pass the Budget Conference Report and H.R. 2029, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2016:  “The budget and the first appropriations bill weren’t perfect, but we finally have a budget that balances within 10 years, and H.R. 2029 provided essential funding for our nation’s veterans. These votes were also a promising start to the vitally important budgeting process. Passage of the budget and the Military Construction and VA Appropriations Bill kicked off our appropriations process earlier in the year than any time since at least 1974. I am hopeful that Congress is on track to get all twelve appropriations bills done on time and to have a thorough account to show the American people.” Ribble is the original Republican author of No Budget, No Pay, requiring both houses of Congress to pass a budget and all 12 appropriations bills or forfeit their pay. A version of this bill became law in 2013, but only for one year.

Source:  Ribble press release

Senator Tammy Baldwin

Baldwin joined other Senate Democrats in introducing a bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020 to help more families make ends meet, expand economic opportunity, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few. The Raise the Wage Act would also phase out the $2.13 tipped wage and would index the minimum wage to median wages. According to the Economic Policy Institute, increasing the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020 would raise wages for an estimated 677,000 Wisconsin workers, which is nearly a quarter (24.6 percent) of the state’s work force. Once fully phased in, the average increase in annual income for affected Wisconsin workers will be $2,800 per year. “Wisconsin’s economy is strongest when we expand opportunity for everyone. We need to reward the hard work of Wisconsinites by raising the minimum wage so an honest day’s work pays more,” Baldwin said. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) introduced a companion bill to raise the minimum wage to $12 by 2020.

Source:  Baldwin press release

President Barack Obama

In his weekly address to the nation, the President reiterated his commitment to expanding access to education, and to spreading the joy of reading to more children and young adults. Obama announced two new efforts that, building on the progress already made by his ConnectED initiative, will do just that:  a challenge to mayors, libraries and school leaders to help every student get a library card; and commitments from libraries and major publishers to provide more than $250 million in free e-Books for low-income students. In his address, the President also previewed his upcoming commencement speech at Lake Area Tech, in Watertown, South Dakota, where he will discuss his plan to make two years of community college as free and universal for every American as high school is today.

Source:  Obama press release