The three Republican legislators representing portions of Chippewa County lined in support of GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed budget bill after Wednesday night’s State of the State address.
State Sen. Terry Moulton of Chippewa Falls said the governor’s budget reflects progress that has been made “getting Wisconsin’s fiscal house in order. As a result of the tough decisions we made during the past budget cycle, we are now in a position to invest in our future and continue to move Wisconsin forward.”
While he said while Walker’s budget includes many promising ideas, Moulton will study it for areas that can be improved. He also pledged to listen to constituents.
“As always my goal is to continue making Wisconsin great by improving educational opportunities, lowering taxes and creating good-paying jobs for people in the Chippewa Valley and across Wisconsin,” he said.
Like Moulton, Rep. Tom Larson of Colfax acknowledged that difficult decisions in the previous budget have helped put the state on a better path, but there’s more work to be done.
“We took the easy route for too long. I cannot ask my grandchildren to carry the burden of our mistakes, and that is why it’s time we invest in our future,” Larson said.
He cited Walker’s priorities of reducing the number of uninsured, devoting new state funds to public education, and focusing on mental health as ones he agreed with.
“I am personally pleased to see the governor’s investment in the UW Carbone Cancer Center to help provide better access to diagnostics and treatment in rural areas,” Larson said. “This disease has directly affected my family, and I hope this funding can spare future families from dealing with this tragedy.
Rep. Kathy Bernier of Lake Hallie was encouraged by the promise of tax relief for low- and middle-class Wisconsinites. She also cited a $20 million investment in the Department of Workforce Development.
“The plan will establish Workforce training grants, a Labor Market Information System, and create the Office of Skills Development,” said Bernier, who authored that proposal, known as Assembly Bill 14, in the legislature.
“This will finally establish a statewide workforce training program employers have been clamoring for. I believe it’s imperative for our state to address the growing skills gap,” she said. “I’m especially happy to see that it is high on the governor’s priority list as well,.”
Bernier called the plan to include $30 million to expand mental health services in Wisconsin the largest investment in mental health in more than three decades.
“Investments should be targeted to critical programs aimed at increasing awareness of the issues surrounding mental health, and enhanced assistance for those who need help most urgently,” Bernier said.