Inauguration Day was Monday, January 7, 2019. I was sworn-in to office, along with my colleagues, the new governor and other constitutional officers. Now it is time to get to work.
As with any new venture, we owe it to everyone we serve to start on a positive note with optimism. I believe that this is happening. In fact, I was fortunate to attend the Wisconsin Economic Forecast luncheon hosted by the Wisconsin Bankers Association and was seated with Governor Tony Evers. During his speech he mentioned that he and I share several priorities. He listed a number of areas where his interests could align with mine such as public schools and higher education systems; ensuring the safety of roads; and making health care affordable and accessible.
The governor said, “All those things are going to impact the economy of the state of Wisconsin. Once we get together and find common ground on these issues, our state will be in a better place.”
While we may not always agree, I appreciate the suggestion that he is willing to work together on these issues. I am optimistic and will keep an open mind and an open door.
The 2019-20 legislative session officially began on inauguration day. My legislative colleagues and I are working hard to research and write bills. We are seeking partners in other houses to co-author the legislation and circulating the bills for co-sponsorship.
Very soon, we will begin holding hearings on Gov. Evers’ appointees and legislation in our committees. The Senate is responsible for vetting and confirming the governor’s appointees. The secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Revenue and Financial Institutions will come before the committee I chair. I will also be voting on the secretaries of Transportation, Veterans Affairs and Natural Resources as a member of those committees.
Before we vote on the appointees, I will have the opportunity to personally meet with each of the secretaries to learn more about their backgrounds, ideas and plans for the future. I always enjoy this process because it gives us the opportunity to collaborate on issues that are important to you. I welcome your input about the appointees, as well. Do not hesitate to share your support or opposition for the individuals who have been appointed to leadership positions throughout state government.
In addition to committee work, we will soon hear Gov. Evers’ State of the State Address, which is usually scheduled in late January. This speech typically offers a high-level view of executive priorities.
The State of the State is usually followed by the governor’s budget address, which is typically given in mid-February. The budget address formally releases the governor’s budget to the legislature. This is about the time that the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, on which I serve, begins slicing and dicing the state budget.
The JFC will study the budget, receive briefings by agencies, hold public hearings throughout the state and then meet in executive session to craft the legislature’s version of the budget. I anticipate that this process will start soon with public hearings usually occurring in March and April. The goal is to finish the state budget by June 30.
During the budget process, the legislature continues to work on non-fiscal legislation. We are already meeting with many individuals and associations to understand priorities and learn new ideas. I appreciate all of the input I have already received.
Again, I believe that the new legislative session is beginning on a positive note. We have many good ideas to move forward and we are all ready to meet the challenges. I am optimistic and encouraged by our opportunities.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website, legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein, and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.