I am proud my bill that helps increase access to dental care in the rural areas of Wisconsin was signed into law earlier this week.

Under SB 706, annual scholarships of $30,000 will be provided to no more than 15 Wisconsin resident students who are enrolled at the Marquette University School of Dentistry and – after they graduate – agree to practice in a dental health professional shortage area.

Businesses across Wisconsin are facing significant workforce challenges right now and the dental industry is certainly not immune. Now that SB 706 is officially state law, we have laid the foundation for creating a pipeline of dentists to serve Wisconsin’s rural and underserved communities.

According to the state Department of Health Services, close to 50 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are federally designated as dental health professional shortage areas, including Wood, Jackson, Adams, Waushara, Monroe and Portage counties.

Data from the 2020 Wisconsin Dentist Workforce Report shows that 30 percent of dentists will be leaving the profession over the next five years.

We need to find ways to entice more dental providers to establish their practices in our underserved communities so the residents there do not fall behind on their oral health care.

It’s quite shocking how expensive dental school can be and oftentimes students graduate with massive amounts of debt. These scholarships will go a long way toward incentivizing and supporting the recruitment and training of dentists who are willing to work in the underserved areas of our state.

Earlier today, I had the privilege of testifying on my bipartisan bill that paves the way for Agristo, an international potato processing company, to construct a facility at the East Park Commerce Center in Stevens Point.

The proposed plant, which would be the company’s first in North America, is expected to create 150 well-paying jobs and bring an investment of nearly $50 million to Central Wisconsin. Furthermore, Agristo will be supporting our local farmers by purchasing an estimated 20,000 acres of potato crop from Wisconsin producers on an annual basis.

While the prospect of Agristo coming to Stevens Point is certainly exciting, we have run into a little bit of a speed bump: The limitations placed on the total value of taxable property that may be included in a Tax Incremental Financing District are potentially making it unfeasible for the potato processing company to locate in our area.

SB 880 addresses that issue by raising the total equalized value threshold to 15 percent for TID Number 14 in Stevens Point. This exception would expire upon the termination of the TID.

This is a commonsense bill that will help attract Agristo to Stevens Point and provide a substantial economic boost to all of Wisconsin.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email