Contact: Rep. Mary Felzkowski (Czaja) 608-266-7694
Madison– The Joint Finance Committee adopted three provisions last week championed by Representative Mary (Czaja) Felzkowski (R-Irma). The first provided an additional $1.5 million to Wisconsin’s Public Library System. The second and third allocated already existing funds to increase snowmobile club reimbursements and funding for ATV/UTV safety programs.
The first motion funneled an additional $1.5 million over the biennium into the Public Library System. The system was cut by 10% in 2011 and has not been increased since. This funding is a first step toward full restoration of those funds.
“Libraries truly are an access point for lifelong learning in all stages of life,” Rep. Felzkowski said. “Whether it be their focus on literacy, continuing education, or workforce and economic development, libraries are at the center of each and every community, and this additional funding reflects their vitality.”
The second motion increased the amount snowmobile clubs may be reimbursed from $250 per-mile to $300 per-mile for trail maintenance activities and removed the sunset on the trail pass sticker program modifications made under 2013 Wisconsin Act 142.
“The CAP/STEP legislation we passed in 2014 provided a stable funding base for our state’s snowmobile program, a program that currently useszero taxpayer dollars,” emphasized Rep. Felzkowski. “This motion simply ensures that our counties and dedicated snowmobile clubs have access to the funding they have already provided through registration and sticker fees.”
The third provision concerns funding for ATV/UTV safety programs. 2001 Act 16 created the All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Safety Enhancement Grant Program, which gave rise to a popular ATV and UTV industry and to thousands of miles of trails that are traveled by tourists and outdoor enthusiasts every day. Despite popularity, this program was discontinued in the 2015-17 budget. The Felzkowski motion re-instated these already existing funds to the DNR to continue the program.
“This year, the number of ATV and UTV registrations in Wisconsin hit an all-time high of over 288,000,” said Rep. Felzkowski. “With numbers like these, we need to be proactive and continue the safe management of our trails and clubs. Restoring segregated funding to the ATV/UTV safety enhancement program is key to keeping this economic driver for Wisconsin thriving.”
These motions have now been adopted into the 2017-19 biennial budget proposal by the Joint Committee on Finance. After the budget bill has been voted out of the committee, it will be brought before both houses of the Legislature for approval.