A group of Republican legislators hailing from rural areas across the state came together Jan. 13 at the state Capitol in Madison to announce the Rural Wisconsin Initiative, an initial package of seven pieces of legislation that they hope will jumpstart a conversation on opportunities in outstate Wisconsin.
The group is led by state Reps. Ed Brooks (Reedsburg), Romaine Quinn (Rice Lake), and Travis Tranel (Cuba City),
The plan includes bills that will boost funding for broadband expansion grants, increase available resources for youth apprenticeship grants and tuition reimbursement grants for apprenticeships, create rural opportunity zones, expand a student loan repayment program for rural teachers, encourage expanded STEM education programs, and bolster funding for the Wisconsin Rural Physician Residency Assistance Program (WRPRAP).
“Rural Wisconsin has a lot to offer,” said Brooks, author of several of the proposals. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been immune from national demographic trends. Rural populations have been shrinking, but we can bridge the gap by offering incentives that will both encourage people to stay in rural Wisconsin, and also attract young professionals, educators, and doctors to our communities.”
Several GOP legislators have joined Brooks, Quinn, and Tranel in supporting the plan, including state Reps. Joan Ballweg (Markesan), Kathy Bernier (Chippewa Falls), Mary Czaja (Irma), James Edming (Glen Fora), Joel Kitchens (Sturgeon Bay), Scott Krug (Nekoosa), Bob Kulp (Stratford), Tom Larson (Colfax), Jeff Mursau (Crivitz), John Murtha (Baldwin), Lee Nerison (Westby), Todd Novak (Dodgeville), Warren Petryk (Eleva), Keith Ripp (Lodi), John Spiros (Marshfield), Rob Swearingen (Rhinelander), Gary Tauchen (Bonduel), and Nancy VanderMeer (Tomah).
“The most important part of the Rural Wisconsin Initiative is public involvement,” continued Brooks. “We want to work with people to develop legislation to build our future in rural Wisconsin.”
To view the plan or offer suggestions, please visit www.RuralWisconsinInitiative.com