Your voices need to be heard in Madison

My job this campaign season, and throughout my term when elected, is to listen.  As the Representative to Assembly District 2, it is my responsibility to you the electorate, to be not only your ears here, but your voice in Madison.  Throughout the campaign we listened to your questions and have identified the following key topics on your mind this election cycle.

I've shared some of my thoughts and positions.I look forward to you connecting with me to discuss any of these or other areas of interest or concern in person when I am out campaigning or reaching out directly to me by email, phone or through our Facebook page.  I look forward to the conversation.

Key Issues in Wisconsin Assembly District 2:

Transportation budget, condition of our roads and the impact on our economy

I have worked the last 33 years in road construction, training and leading crews to award winning results in WI, across the US and globally. I honed my negotiation and collaboration skills in my job, often driving results even when I didn’t speak the language. I have seen first hand the negative impact that roads in disrepair, poorly thought out designs, and wasteful spend can have on a community. Our manufacturing supply chain, our agricultural industry and our tourism industry cannot thrive on crumbling roadways. Not to mention the cost of the wear and tear you and I personally experience on our vehicles.

Funding for the transportation is hotly contested every year. No one wants to pony up but everyone wants a piece of the pie. We need to find alternate revenue streams. Here is what I propose:

1. The gas tax has not been raised in 10 years and I would support a 5 cent increase.
2. Redirect 2/3rds of revenues from local, county and state level traffic citations to the budget
3. Legalize marijuana and put 2/3rds of taxes collected from towards the budget

Management of the budget itself needs professional, not political, oversite by industry experts as it is filled with wasteful spend (decorated underpasses, stamped concrete intersections, etc.).

These are a few of my ideas. I invite your comments and feedback.

Levy Limits

First of all...what are they and why do they matter to you and me and the voters in this district. Under the current state budget a city or town is allowed to increase its levy (let's just call it what it is...tax) over the amount it taxed in the prior year by a % increase based on value from net new construction. So, if no new construction occurred in your community, then your allowable tax increase is zero ...percent.

That's good right? We don't want new taxes. And in a lot of our communities there is relatively little to no new construction. So isn't this state administered restriction a good thing?

Like many of you and many of our towns, my wife and I are on a tight budget. We don't have a lot of wiggle room if let's say we had to replace a roof or help fund our grandkids education or deal with an unexpected medical emergency. For many of our communities, when they set their budget they too are stretched thin and have to decide where to spend your tax dollars...improve the roads? increase fire protection? snow plowing? The current process has towns trying to manage for the future by looking backward at the past.

I grew up on Denmark and now live in Two Rivers. Both wonderful communities but both in need of ways to improve services to existing residents and as such, be more attractive to folks who may want to move here, start a business here and help our local economy thrive.

My reaction to the questions about eliminating these levy (tax) limits is this...we need to let our local governments - which by they way you and I need to step up and play a more active role in by attending town council meetings and making our voices heard - govern themselves, but within reason. I would support loosening the current levy limits and the cumbersome referendum process to allow towns to look ahead to future needs and growth strategies and plan accordingly. BUT I would also work to ensure there is a clause in place whereby the citizens of any of these towns need to approve any increase by a majority vote.

I don't have all the answers but I am willing to be your voice as we work together on solutions. Remember, it's government by the people and for the people. Looking forward to a good discussion on this.

Healthcare - costs and funding

Let's start with the cost which we can all agree, no matter your party, are way too high. This weekend my wife Kathy and I sat down to review our insurance options. We are lucky enough that our employers have reasable plans, but not everyone does. The average cost per family per paycheck can start around $100 and go up to $160 or beyond - that's just medical and that just gets you coverage. Start adding up deductables in the thousands of dollars and crazy perscription costs and, for most of us, one medical issue could spell disaster. Last winter Kathy got really sick. I talked her into going to Urgent Care. She walked out after 15 minutes in the exam room and a mere five minute conversation with the doctor. He sent her off with just an over the counter perscription and a bill of $8,000. INSANE!

Folks, we don't have a healthcare issue, we have an insurance company issues. These guys get fat on our pain and suffering and it needs to end. I don't have all the answers but I will work across the aisle to find solutions and fight for you.

A good start for funding progams that can support our at risk population - our veterans, the elderly, our kids - is the legalization and taxation of medical marijuana. HOWEVER, we must ensure that Big Pharma does not get its greedy hands in the pot (pun intended) and try to profit off manufacturing or distribution. My best friend Dave has Parkinson's. His medical bills and perscription costs are through the roof to very limited results. Medical marijuana could make a huge difference for him physically and financially. We need to look at the solutions that are right under our nose.

I look forward to your comments as I am #determinedtomakeadifference

The cost of education, who pays for it and how the money is spent

As I work my way through the district talking to parents, employers and teachers, education, common core and how our teachers were valued vs. paid keep coming up as a hot topic. Parents want their children to get the best education they can to prepare them for the career of their choice, at the school of their choice within the budget they can afford. Business owners want young people coming out of high school, trades school or college with critical thinking skills, practical experience and a solid work ethic. Teachers want to be paid a fair living wage, not have to pay for supplies out of their own pocket and to be educators who help students learn how to learn not how to take a test.

As a taxpayer, parent and grandparent, brother of teachers and someone who works coaching and training young workers at my job, I want the same things. It comes down to good business. Our schools are funded largely through State aids (46.2%) and Property Taxes (42.1%) with balance supplied by local revenue and Federal aids. Basically, we the taxpayers pay for it. However, we don't seem to have a say in how it is spent.

I was shocked when I read an infogram put out by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Teachers only make up 55% of the staff in our schools - aids, adminstration, 'other' make up the rest. Average salaries are just north of $50,000.

We as state legislators have an obligation to look deeper into how the budgets are set for schools and how the monies are spent. We need to partner with parents, teachers and business owners to ensure the curriculum meets the needs of the students and is not being dictated to fill college enrollment quotas. We need to support work-study programs, technical and trades training and programs like the arts, life skills, agriculture, etc.

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