July 5, 2023 – Washington Co., WI – State Representative Ty Bodden (R-Stockbridge) issued the following statement regarding the state budget: As a Representative who has voted “no” quite a bit on legislation my own party put on the floor this session, I would have been more than okay with voting against the Republican proposed budget.
If you are curious about what all those bills were, feel free to reach out to me to talk about it, but these bills were, in my personal opinion, unconstitutional, immoral, or violated the free market. With that being said, seeing what both parties bring to the table, Republicans are clearly our only hope to save this state and country. Republicans are truly the only big tent party of the two major parties.
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When it comes to the budget, I would have had no problem voting “no” if the pros didn’t outweigh the cons. Despite my hesitation, I ultimately supported the Republican-proposed budget for several reasons. In my near-dozen listening sessions, over 500 returned spring surveys, and many constituent contacts, I heard what my district had to say.
Firstly, I had previously voted in favor of the original shared revenue proposal in the Assembly on May 17. My support for this proposal stems from my strong belief in eliminating the personal property tax and allocating more funds to local communities. This is money that will be moved from the state budget and allocated to the locals, who
do a much better job at managing their finances compared to the state. I firmly believe that local authorities are better equipped to manage finances and are in desperate need of assistance. Everyone is complaining about the roads. Additionally, I strongly support ending DEI initiatives around the state, preventing any municipality from defunding the police, and increasing the number of School Resource Officers (SROs) in MPS, although I acknowledge that more needs to be done in this regard, amongst other things.
My support for the initial shared revenue proposal was also influenced by the provision allowing Milwaukee to hold a referendum to raise its sales tax to address pension liability issues. It became evident when Milwaukee’s leaders were advocating against a referendum that they knew would fail. Even Milwaukee residents expressed their reluctance to see their taxes raised. If the referendum had failed, Milwaukee would have faced bankruptcy, which is something I wanted to see happen. When the amendment came out, changing it so that only ⅔ of the common council and county board were needed to enact the sales tax, I could not get behind it.
It is important to note that this burden will not solely fall on Milwaukee residents but would impact everyone who visits Milwaukee for events, sports games, or other activities. We all would be paying for their mistakes when we visit Milwaukee County. The responsibility should lie solely on the people who elected their leaders who made these irresponsible decisions. I’m afraid lessons will not be learned from this whole thing. After hearing various opinions from constituents, some expressed their opinion that we do not want to see Milwaukee go bankrupt because it would negatively affect the entire state, which is true. However, bankruptcy would push Milwaukee into a difficult situation, and reforms would
absolutely have to happen. I am genuinely concerned that Milwaukee will not change its ways, but maybe I will be proven wrong.
Although the shared revenue amendment opposed my initial preferences, supporting the budget allowed me to endorse the allocation of funds to municipalities, which was my primary objective. Unfortunately, the shared revenue bill was a package deal and included aspects that conflicted with the beliefs of many constituents in my district. I personally would have preferred separate votes on each issue.
Secondly, the 59th District is home to numerous Department of Corrections employees and their families, primarily working at Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution (KMCI) and Taycheedah Correctional Institution, among others in the state. KMCI has one of the highest vacancy rates in the entire state. Given that corrections employee compensation
is one of my top concerns and has been since I ran for office last year, I was extremely pleased to see the budget include significant wage increases for Correctional Officers. Hopefully, we’ll be able to recruit and retain correctional officers to alleviate the burden on corrections staff with the forced overtime and being short-staffed. In corrections, you never know when you’ll be going home and if you’ll make it home safely. I’m thrilled we are stepping up for them as this is a pro-family, pro-life, and pro-law enforcement issue for me.
This budget also provided salary enhancements for Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs) and District Attorneys (DAs), which is a significant victory. I hear from constituents all the time that their biggest concern is crime. Addressing crime is a paramount issue for our
state and this was significantly addressed in this budget.
Thirdly, the budget proposes a remarkable $4.4 billion in tax cuts, including a $3.5 billion reduction in income taxes, $622 million in property tax relief, and $173 million to repeal the personal property tax. This surpasses any expectations I had going into this budget. I believe that a substantial proposed tax cut should be recognized and celebrated. We need to encourage greater cuts. The surplus we had was immoral. People were grossly overtaxed, and it must be returned in the form of a tax cut. Consequently, the future reduction in revenue from these cuts for the state should prompt a decrease in future government budgets. Less state funding means less waste and taxes, which are substantial victories in my view. The Governor would be unwise to veto this proposal. The total amount spent in this budget was ridiculously high. Frankly, $98.7 billion is hard to get over, but due to the spending of the surplus, paying down hundreds of millions in debt, and tax cuts that show up as spending in the state accounting, we cannot and should not have a budget this high again.
The perception of a growing government is not something I can get behind in the future, and we cannot let the federal government push us into this position again.
Additionally, I collaborated with fellow representatives to request the removal of DEI positions from the UW System. I firmly believe that DEI initiatives are divisive and perpetuate racism, and they have no place on our college campuses. Moreover, I successfully secured a $3.35 million budget request to create a pilot program
incentivizing MPTC to take over UW-Washington County. This initiative aims to increase technical colleges and eliminate the two-year UW extensions, redirecting students away from an indoctrinating UW system. The long-term benefits of this program include potential cost savings for the state and enhanced local opportunities for students pursuing degrees that align with the job market.
Lastly, I also requested a $400,000 cut that had been allocated for Badger Books, a program responsible for creating an electronic sign-in book at polling stations for voting. It was insulting that the Governor requested this in the first place! The budget is far from perfect, but this budget pays down $400 million in debt and eliminates nearly 800
government positions. In a time when everyone is struggling with their budgets because of President Biden’s inflation, the state is not immune.
This fall, I hope we will be addressing other issues with our education system, election integrity matters, globalist issues, and cutting government waste and bureaucracy. We need to continue to fight for this state and country.