EAGLE RIVER - In the next couple weeks, Gov. Scott Walker will release Wisconsin's budget for the next two years. Rep. Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) and Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) thought it would be a perfect time to host listening sessions in a number of Northwoods communities.
One of the sessions was at the Eagle River library Monday. Some people brought up the poor road conditions in the area. Tiffany says transportation funding is one of the items he will be looking at closely in the upcoming budget.
"Rural road funding, transportation is a big issue, want to make sure that the rural parts of northern Wisconsin...that we get our fair share," said Tiffany.
Swearingen says that is not the only area where a fair share for the Northwoods is needed. He says some rural school districts, particularly the Rhinelander school district, has trouble getting proper funding.
"Clearly rural schools remain a priority, making sure that the Northwoods gets their fair share of the pie," Swearingen said. "You know the school funding formula, certainly as it relates to Rhinelander, has been a frustrating issue for me since day one, since the day I got elected."
Swearingen said another important issue is getting northern Wisconsin more access to broadband, something he says would help rural schools, and ultimately help the economy.
Not in the budget, but also on Tiffany's mind is Grey Wolves.
A new bill to take gray wolves of the endangered species list hit the U.S. Senate floor last week. The bill aims to get the wolves off that list and to give control back to states.
"After the bills that were introduced by Congressman Duffy and Sen. Johnson over the last week or so, it really appears that there's a good chance that we're going to see de-listing and without judicial review," said Tiffany.
Tiffany says that not having judicial review is important, because otherwise the legislation would "ping-pong" through the court system. He says it is time for the state to control the wolf population.
"The Fish and Wildlife Service, they've acknowledged that they don't have enough people to be able to do this, so if they can't do it at the federal level, they should leave it to us at the state level," said Tiffany.
If wolves are de-listed, it could open the possibility of bringing back Wisconsin's wolf hunt.