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Western Wisconsinites deliver budget requests to Joint Finance Committee in River Falls

River Falls (WQOW) – On Monday, people from across western Wisconsin traveled to River Falls to give their two cents on what they’d like to see in the next state budget during a Joint Finance Committee listening session.

Among the topics covered – education funding, ways the state can help farmers, money to pay for Wisconsin’s crumbling roads and Medicaid expansion. A group from AARP also pushed for room in the budget for things like dementia care and dental care, and broadband expansion for rural seniors.

“Often our rural members tell us that they do not have access to some of the programs and services that other members who live in urban areas have,” said AARP advocate Caryl Ligler.

Local lawmakers were invited to listen in during the hearing. State Senator Jeff Smith said he attended to urge the state’s budget-writing committee to fund the needs of western Wisconsin.

“We want to know what they’re hearing so we know why they’re coming up to conclusions that they come up with, and/or are they ignoring what we’re hearing? I think that’s maybe even the most important part, because I want my constituency, which is here today, to be heard,” said Senator Jeff Smith.

State Representative Shannon Zimmerman is on the Joint Finance Committee. He said both sides of the aisle will have a hard time haggling over governor Tony Evers’ proposed budget ahead of the July deadline.

“While I think we’ll find agreement in a number of different areas, we also need to appreciate that if we take on its current value it would create tax increases dramatically across the state. So, the next step for the joint committee and finances is, we come together, and we review the public input, the testimony we have heard and we go to work,” said Representative Shannon Zimmerman.

The Joint Finance Committee is holding its final public hearing in Green Bay on April 24. If you didn’t have a chance to attend the forum, you can e-mail your comment online.

Justin Esterly

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