Looking back at 2019, the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” keeps going through my head and so I thought it would be appropriate to reflect upon my 12 newspaper columns of the year.
In January, I wrote about millennials and how they comprise about 20 percent of our population. I have faith they will help fill the high-demand needs of our workforce, including teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, and the trades.
In February, I highlighted a new course for Wisconsin after the Governor presented his first State of the State Address. He proposed a 10 percent tax cut for individuals and families, accepting Medicaid funds, and restoring our commitment to fund two-thirds of school costs to reduce property taxes.
In March, I highlighted the differences in income tax cuts proposed by the majority party and the Governor. The Governor’s proposal would have given a tax cut to 84 percent of regular Wisconsinites. It would have helped Wisconsin families pay their bills.
In April, I highlighted that Wisconsin’s economy depends upon three things: tourism, manufacturing and agriculture. All of those industries need safe and well-maintained roads just as each of us do when going to work every day, sending our kids to school, and traveling for the holidays.
In May, I wrote about the importance of keeping young people in our state to provide for our state’s economic well-being. Millennials see alternative transit such as buses, bicycles, and passenger trains as more convenient, less expensive, and better for the environment than single-vehicle transportation.
In June, I highlighted National Dairy Month. I want to thank our dairy farmers for persevering through tough times and our cheesemakers for making the world-class cheese that we enjoy year round. Cheese baskets make a great Christmas gift, by the way.
My July column discussed how Wisconsin farm income fell from $3.6 billion in 2011 to $1.7 billion in 2018. This not only affects farmers but all of the businesses that count on a thriving agricultural economy. Rural businesses, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes struggle to survive.
The year 2019 brought us a new legislative session and, for the first time in eight years, shared governing between the legislative and executive branches. In August I wrote “Checks and Balances are Vital to Successful Governing” The state budget bill had just been passed, and no one was entirely upset nor entirely happy with it. That’s how shared governing works.
In September I wrote about the 2019 Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction at the Wisconsin State Fair. At the 1859 State Fair in Milwaukee, then-presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln said: “Agricultural fairs are an institution of the country, they bring us together and thereby make us better acquainted and better friends then otherwise would be.”
In October, I gave an update on some of the bills I introduced this legislative session, including a bill to target $3 million in existing state funds to rural development; a bill to build up high-speed internet in under-served areas; and a bill enhance recreational opportunities for persons with disabilities.
In November, I highlighted the growing number of seniors 65 years and older in Wisconsin. They are approaching one million and we need to make Wisconsin an affordable state for them to continue to live in.
As we head into 2020, my hope is that the decade brings greater respect, civility, and a willingness to work together for all of the people of Wisconsin. May each and every one of you have a joyful and blessed holiday season.
State Rep. Don Vruwink represents parts of Rock, Walworth, Jefferson, and Dane counties. These include the communities of Whitewater, Milton, Edgerton, Footville, the Town of Janesville, part of the Village of Oregon, and surrounding townships. He can be reached at 608-266-3790, Rep.Vruwink@legis.wisconsin.gov, and P.O. Box 8953, Madison WI 53708.