Representative Joel Kitchens
Rep. Kitchens released the following statement after the passage of his bills in the Foster Forward legislative package on the floor of the Assembly on Feb. 13: “I was delighted to see the entire Foster Forward legislative package move forward through the Assembly today, especially my bills AB 775 and AB 777. AB 775 eliminates the look-ahead period for TPR (termination of parental rights) and AB 777 provides tuition remission for foster youths.” AB 775 removes the nine month look-ahead element to involuntary termination of parental rights in a CHIPS proceeding. This will streamline the permanency process for a child and allow for an expedited adoption process. AB 777 provides former foster children with free tuition at all UW-System schools and technical colleges. Many foster families do not have the resources to ensure college for their foster children and this bill will provide them with immeasurable opportunities.
“These bills addressed some of the biggest concerns that we heard time and again as we traveled the state for our public hearings. I found it incredibly valuable to hear from the people who work in the child welfare system every single day. As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Children and Families, I’ve gained a new appreciation for the work these individuals do and the tremendous value they provide to our state’s children. I was honored to serve on the Speaker’s Task Force on Foster Care and be able to engage with the social workers, case managers, foster parents and volunteers who spend their time working to improve the lives of children in the system. I was especially proud to serve on this task force due to its bipartisan nature. The children of our state are best served when we all work together and co-chairs Representative Snyder (R-Schofield) and Representative Doyle (D- Onalaska) did a wonderful job in leading a joint effort to improve our child welfare system and the lives of Wisconsin’s foster children.”
Source: Kitchens press release
Governor Scott Walker
Gov. Walker and Speaker Robin Vos announced an agreement to return the state’s budget surplus to taxpayers through a one-time child sales tax rebate and sales tax holiday in 2018.
“As I promised, when we have a surplus, we will give it back to you. It’s your money,” Walker said. “So, if you’ve got three kids at home under the age of 18, that’s $300 more this year for new shoes, coats, activity fees at school, or a co-pay at the doctor or dentist. Plus, we want to provide a sales tax holiday which comes right in time for back-to-school supplies.”
As Walker proposed in his State of the State Address, families across Wisconsin would receive $100 for every child living at home below the age of 18.
The legislation sets the new sales tax holiday for Aug. 4-5, 2018. Consumers would be exempt from paying state sales tax on all retail “off the shelf” items up to $100. The exemption would not apply to the sale of taxable services, prepared food, motor vehicles, motor vehicle parts, tangible or intangible property used to access telecommunications services, tangible or intangible property provided by a utility, or alcohol and tobacco products.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR), the child tax credit rebate is estimated at $122.1 million in fiscal year 2018. DOR also estimates the one-time sales tax holiday cuts taxes by roughly $50 million in fiscal year 2019.
Source: Walker press release
Senator Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Baldwin sent a letter to the board of directors of Kimberly-Clark questioning the company’s recent announcement to use corporate tax cuts for its plan to close facilities in Neenah and Fox Crossing, lay off more than 600 workers, and spend up to $900 million on stock buybacks for executives and shareholders this year.
In 2017, Kimberly-Clark had a $3.3 billion operating profit at. Last year, the company spent $911 million on stock buybacks. In December, Congress passed and President Trump signed a permanent, corporate tax cut. CNBC reported last week that major corporations have announced $88.6 billion in stock buybacks since the beginning of this year, more than double what was reported last year in the same period. On Jan. 31, Kimberly-Clark announced that it will spend $900 million on stock buybacks.
“I write with deep concern for the Wisconsin workers whose hard work should be rewarded, but instead face layoffs in my home state. It is simply wrong for the company to use corporate tax cuts to reward the wealth of its executives and shareholders through increased dividends and more stock buybacks, while closing facilities and laying off workers,” Baldwin wrote in her letter. “As you make decisions about the Wisconsin workers who have created wealth and profit for Kimberly-Clark, I ask that you consider that the best solution for Wisconsin workers and taxpayers is for you to reward workers instead of the wealth of executives and shareholders with more stock buybacks.”
Source: Baldwin press release
Senator Ron Johnson
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper tore into Sen. Johnson last week, accusing him of promoting “conspiracies” related to newly released text message between FBI employees. Johnson released a report that included the exchange between FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, arguing that the texts raised questions about President Obama’s involvement in the investigation into Clinton’s email use.
However, The Wall Street Journal reported that the text messages exchanged between the two FBI employees referred to the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, not a probe into Hillary Clinton’s email server.
Cooper went off on Johnson for “sounding the alarm” on the FBI texts and calling it evidence of bias in the Justice Department investigation in January.
“Cue the conspiracy theories, cue the hyperbole,” Cooper said, referring to President Trump‘s tweet that the new texts are “bombshells.”
“This is the second time Sen. Johnson has made a claim alleging some conspiracy based on these text messages only for it to turn out to be either not true or not in context,” the host said, referencing claims by Johnson in January that the text messages proved the existence of an anti-Trump “secret society.”
President Donald Trump
President Trump’s proposed budget reduces funding for popular crop subsidies by a third, months after a Republican senator said Trump had promised not to make any cuts to the program. The proposed budget would cut $26 billion from the subsidies over 10 years, according to Agriculture.com. The average premium subsidy under the program would drop from 62 percent to 48 percent. Advocates for the crop insurance program say it’s essential for farmers. However, critics of the program have called it bloated and claim farmers take advantage of the protections to avoid taking measures to prevent losses.