With unanimous consent, Senator Fitzgerald addressed the members from the rostrum.
Remarks of Majority Leader Fitzgerald
“As we begin the important duty of conducting the work of the people of Wisconsin, I would like to welcome and congratulate the 16 Senators whose oaths were renewed or taken for the first time today. Your constituents have entrusted you with the great privilege and responsibility of representing their interests here in Wisconsin’s statehouse, and I look forward to working with each and every member of this body, new and returning.
I am particularly excited to get back to the work of the legislature after an incredible year both for the Senate and for Wisconsin. Thanks to our work, in 2016 Wisconsin reached record high employment levels, saw our best twelve month private sector job growth in a decade, and is currently enjoying our state’s lowest unemployment rate in 15 years.
In this new session, we must build upon all of the achievements of the last. While Wisconsin’s voters once again cast a vote of confidence in our responsible stewardship, this session we must renew our commitment to moving Wisconsin in the right direction. Over the next two years, this body will be dedicated to improving our business climate and continuing to ensure accountability and efficiency at every level of government. Just as every Wisconsin family must budget for their needs each year, our government must continue to operate within its means, eliminating waste and checking abuse to ensure that our taxpayers’ dollars are well spent.
As we embark on the process of crafting the next biennial budget, we will ensure that the best interests of Wisconsin’s residents remain a priority. Under Republican control, Wisconsin has already seen over four and a half billion dollars returned to the pockets of taxpayers. We still believe that individuals should ultimately decide how to spend their hard-earned paychecks—not the government. Despite our already significant efforts to lower the tax burden, Wisconsin remains a high-tax state due to the exceptional quantity and quality of services that the state provides. More reform of our tax code is still needed so that it is simple, streamlined, and eases the overall burden on hard-working Wisconsin residents while maintaining this excellent quality.
Last session I began the year by reminding this body not only of all that we have been able to accomplish, but how much we have achieved with a spirit of bipartisanship and cooperation. This remains true today: in the last two legislative sessions, well over 90 percent of the bills that passed through these chambers and were signed into law in Wisconsin garnered support from both sides of the aisle.
Once again, I call on all of my colleagues gathered here today to enter into this legislative session with that renewed spirit.
As members of the legislature, we are too often characterized by our divisions, but all of us here today are united by our shared desire to make our state a better place. With that in mind, I welcome all of you–new and returning—to the 103rd Session of the Wisconsin State Senate.”
With unanimous consent, Senator Shilling addressed the members from the rostrum.
Remarks of Minority Leader Shilling
“Mr. President, friends and colleagues. I am honored to join you here today as we begin a new legislative session and address the challenges facing our state.
I would like to welcome our new and returning members as well as their families. I especially want to recognize my husband Chris and two boys, Nathan and Zachary, who are here with me today. Thank you for your unconditional love, support and encouragement.
I also want to welcome everyone watching from home on WisconsinEye as well as our guests here in the Senate chamber.
While today marks the start of a new session, it also provides our legislature with a clean slate and the opportunity to chart a new course for our state.
We all know that Wisconsin is a unique, vibrant and hardworking state full of amazing people and unparalleled potential, but we need a clearer plan to invest in our future and ensure long-term economic success.
While the rest of the nation has seen strong job gains, our state has consistently ranked below the national average for job creation, we’ve struggled with declining wages and our aging infrastructure is preventing many businesses from expanding. Wisconsin communities, businesses and residents are already bracing for another round of difficult budget cuts and sacrifices because of fiscal policies that favor the rich over working families.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Just across the border in Minnesota, their progressive policies are attracting businesses, growing their middle class, and resulting in major budget surpluses. Just last month, their budget office forecasted a $1.4 billion surplus and they have a $1.9 billion reserve fund. Rather than looking to cut and borrow, they are investing and growing.
As we seek to balance Wisconsin’s budget deficit and build a brighter future, my Senate Democratic colleagues and I are committed to focusing on the important issues at hand. We will put forward thoughtful proposals to improve workplace flexibility, increase economic freedom and invest in pro-growth policies to strengthen the middle class. We recognize that these aren’t Democratic or Republican issues. They’re Wisconsin issues and we must find ways to work together on these key priorities.
In this new session, it is important to recognize the shortcomings of past policies and look for new ways to deliver on legislative promises. Without adequately investing in our future, Wisconsin will continue to lag our neighboring states in job growth and prosperity. We know that a quality education is the foundation for lifelong success, yet state cuts, local funding challenges and the massive increase of student loan debt have become significant burdens for families. By making targeted investments in our schools, we can improve education outcomes at all levels from pre-K programs to our technical colleges and universities.
Senate Democrats will also look for ways to help businesses improve workplace productivity, reduce employee turnover and provide greater workplace flexibility. We want to focus on increasing access to affordable childcare, reducing health care costs and improving retirement security to eliminate the barriers that prevent employers and employees from succeeding in a competitive global marketplace.
We also recognize that our government has a responsibility to strengthen communities and private enterprise by maintaining a strong public infrastructure. From repairing aging roads and bridges to encouraging broadband access in urban and rural areas, we need to ensure that our infrastructure is an asset, not a liability, to businesses growth and expansion.
Each of the members in this chamber represents a unique district and geographic area of our state, but we are united in our desire to do what’s best for everyone. Rather than focusing on policies that will divide communities, I hope that we will seize this opportunity to set a new tone and find commonsense solutions to the challenges we face.
As the Senate Democratic Leader, I look forward to working with Gov. Walker, my legislative colleagues, community leaders and local advocates to strengthen relationships and move Wisconsin forward. By working together, I know that we can provide greater economic opportunity, prosperity and freedom for all to enjoy. Thank you.”
Report of Committees
The joint committee on Legislative Organization reported and recommended:
Senate Joint Resolution 1
Relating to: the session schedule for the 2017−2018 biennial session period.
Ayes: 10 − Senator Roth, Representative Vos, Senators Fitzgerald, Vukmir, Shilling and Bewley, Representatives Steineke, R. Brooks, Barca and Hesselbein.
Noes: 0 − None.
hist62963Considered as privileged and taken up.
Relating to: the session schedule for the 2017-2018 biennial session period.
By the joint committee on Legislative Organization.
hist62974The question was: Adoption of Senate Joint Resolution 1?
The ayes and noes were required and the vote was: ayes, 33; noes, 0; absent or not voting, 0; as follows:
Ayes - Senators Bewley, Carpenter, Cowles, Craig, Darling, Erpenbach, Feyen, S. Fitzgerald, Hansen, Harsdorf, Johnson, Kapenga, C. Larson, Lasee, LeMahieu, Marklein, Miller, Moulton, Nass, Olsen, Petrowski, Ringhand, Risser, Roth, Shilling, Stroebel, L. Taylor, Testin, Tiffany, Vinehout, Vukmir, Wanggaard and Wirch - 33.
Noes – None - 0.
Absent or not voting – None - 0.
Senator Fitzgerald, with unanimous consent, asked that all action be immediately messaged to the Assembly:
Announcements, Adjournment Honors and Remarks Under
Senator Cowles, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Fred and Marian Krumberger.
Senator Craig, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Amy Craig, William Craig, James Craig, Henry Craig, Greta Craig, Paul Craig, Ruth Craig, Lynn and Kathleen Johnson, Tim and Pat Johnson, Bernie and Karen Schulz, William and Carol Craig, Paul Craig, Gar and Mary Mengel, Benjamin Mengel, Alici Mengel, Elizabeth Mengel, Keith and Sharon Roder, Diane Affeldt, and Lynn Affeldt.
Senator Darling, with unanimous consent, introduced her guests attending the 2017 inaugural; William Darling, Nancy Darling, Liam Darling, Charlie Winkeljohn, and Andie Winkeljohn.
Senator Feyen, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Lori Feyen, Nick Feyen, Jenna Feyen, Steve Feyen, Bob Feyen, Mary Feyen, Jerry Barker, Bob Sheahan, Lisa Sheahan, Becca Sheahan, Bryan Sheahan, Hunter Lisko, Terry Shoemake, and Annie Moore.
Senator Hansen, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Jane Hansen, Bret Bicoy, Alyssa Bicoy, David Bicoy, Bret Bicoy Jr., Kekoa Bicoy, Nalani Bicoy, Malia Bicoy, Donald Hansen, Dennis Hansen, Mary Jo Hansen, Jonathon Hansen, and Becky Rasmussen.
Senator Harsdorf, with unanimous consent, introduced her guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Ryan Bailey, Susie and Steve Josephson, Jim Harsdorf, Jonathan, Karissa and Christian Harsdorf, and Sonja, Ezekial and Ariella Beyerlein.
Senator Johnson, with unanimous consent, introduced her guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Derrell Anderson, Brittani Cook, Curtis A. Cook II, Sydney M. Lee, Annie Wacker, Heather Ullsvik Loomans, Lillian Cheeseman, Supervisor Sequanna Taylor, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Laila Johnson, Shannon McCoy, and Christian Ullsvik.
Senator Marklein, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Peggy Marklein, Craig Steinbrink, Dawn Steinbrink, and Tom Harlan.
Senator Miller, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Jo Oyama Miller, Chandra Miller Fienen, Jeff Miller, Karen Miller, Tyler Verana, Mia Kuhn, Randy Miller, and Kiichi Okubo.
Senator Moulton, with unanimous consent, introduced his guest attending the 2017 inaugural; Sue Kay Moulton.
Senator Nass, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Sheila Reiff, Chris Goebel, Conor Ryan, and Monique Ryan.
Senator Olsen, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Joan Wade, Paul and Cheryl Olsen, Christine Olsen, Jennifer and Mark Olsen, Peter and Selma Olsen, Bethany and Jake Wagner, Jacob Olsen, Claudia Murillo, Dan, Theresa, Angelo, Antonio and Nash Olsen, and Ted and Carol Vander Woude.
Senator Risser, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Nancy Risser, Warner Risser, Lisa White, Sara Risser, Doug Falck, Adam White, Lizzy White, and Noelle Risser.
Senator Roth, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Rebecca Roth, Roger Roth, Sr., Karen Roth, Kasper Roth, Jesse Chase, Josh Goodman, Matt Paddock, Kristine Newhouse, and Thomas Dubnicka.
Senator Stroebel, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Laura Stroebel, Trevor Stroebel, Stewart Stroebel, Mary Stroebel, Robin Stroebel, Christine Scimeca, Peter Scimeca, Allan Bachmann, Carmen Cruz, Zach Palmer, Paula Purcell, and Dolores Johnson.
Senator Taylor, with unanimous consent, introduced her guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Sheila Parrish, Nicole Sodivaish, Dr. ReShunda Stephens, Christine R. Thompson-Mosore, James Thompson, Wilbur Taylor, Isha Clayborn, LaDette Austin, Zeke Averhart, Nicole Brown, Former Representative Elizabeth Coggs, and Donna Shepard.
Senator Testin, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Hannah Henderson, Matt Testin, Paula Testin, Bill Henderson, Mary Henderson, BJ Henderson, April Disher, Baylie Disher, Amelia Heup, Brian Moczynski, Nik Nelson, and Joel Egan.
Senator Tiffany, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Chris Sully, Karlyn Tiffany, Lou Welter, Jim Welter, and Madison Mueth.
Senator Wirch, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Mary Wirch, Sue Dopp, and Ron Biendseil.
Senate Chief Clerk Jeffrey Renk, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; his wife Paula Renk, son Matt Renk, and father Ralph W. Renk, age 92, who lobbied for nearly 30 years in the Capitol and retired in 1990.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Ted Blazel, with unanimous consent, introduced his guests attending the 2017 inaugural; Hanna Blazel, Ben Blazel, and Will Blazel.
Senator Fitzgerald, with unanimous consent, asked that the Senate stand adjourned until Tuesday, January 10, 2017.