Legislator of the Week: Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren
This week, ALEC and FreedomWorks introduce Wisconsin State Representative John Nygren. Representative Nygren was elected as the Wisconsin State Representative from the 89th Assembly District in November, 2006. He is a fourth generation resident of Northeast Wisconsin. Rep. Nygren strongly believes in the “citizen legislature.” He began his career in financial services in 1998 and continues his work today with Great Lakes Financial Management Group. He sees his career as a way to keep in touch with the people in his district. He is also the Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, and serves on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Joint Committee on Employment Relations, and the Joint Legislative Council Committee. He works most frequently on Crime and Law Enforcement, Health, Commerce, Law, and Labor and Employment. Rep. Nygren has also put a lot of his focus on the Heroin and Opioid addiction crisis facing Wisconsin and the country, and has created programs designed to help prevent addiction in his state. Rep. Nygren is deeply rooted in the community with his wife, Maggie, and their three children Cassie, Cali, and Colin. Mrs. Nygren is a high school teacher in the local community.
Why did you run for office?
As a parent, I ran to help shape the world my children would grow up in in a positive way. I strongly believe in a citizen legislature, and I believe that my experience in the private sector made me a strong candidate for political office.
In your view, what is the biggest issue facing Wisconsin?
In my view, the biggest issue facing Wisconsin is substance abuse and the opioid epidemic. Any time you have friends and family members dying on levels never seen before, you have to act. Our state’s heroin and opioid epidemic is not unlike the rest of our country, but all 72 counties are drastically impacted by this epidemic. With that said, Wisconsin has been a national leader on this issue and has been making great strides in our fight against addiction. While we have made steps forward, there is still much more to do.
If you could “wave your magic wand,” what would you like to see immediately implemented in Wisconsin?
If I could “wave a magic wand,” I would immediately implement a long term transportation plan that takes into account changing needs of our state while living within the taxpayers’ ability to pay.
Do you serve on any committees, if so which committees and why? How do you think you have impacted them?
I have the privilege of serving on several committees but my most important work is on the Joint Committee on Finance, serving as the co-chair. In Wisconsin, the Finance Committee is responsible for writing the state budget. Since being selected to serve on this committee, I believe my fiscally conservative ideals have positively impacted our state. We have reduced taxes by the billions and reformed government to be more efficient and effective for the taxpayer. I also serve on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, Joint Committee on Employment Relations, and the Joint Legislative Council Committee.
What project or law are you most proud of?
There are two legislative accomplishments I am most proud of. First is my work on the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda. As a state, we have passed 30 bipartisan bills aimed at combating the opioid epidemic in Wisconsin. Together as a state we have seen a 30% reduction in opioid prescriptions as well as a 47% decrease in ‘doctor shopping.’ The second is my work last year to make reforms to school funding. In Wisconsin we had pretty significant inequity between what school districts could raise in revenue between property taxes and state aid. For the first time in over 20 years, we passed legislation to target over $130M to the low spending schools in our state. This legislation, which I authored, will help provide equal opportunities to students regardless of where they go to school.
How has ALEC helped you as a legislator?
ALEC has been a consistently strong resource for my staff and I, providing us with the necessary tools and data to make informed policy decisions. Having evidenced based, data driven policy is crucial to move agendas forward. ALEC has been instrumental in moving our policy goals as a state forward. It has also helped me connect with Legislators across the country who share innovative ways they are addressing issues in their states.
What is your favorite thing about living in Wisconsin?
I greatly enjoy our state’s bountiful natural resources. Every season in Wisconsin has something to offer, from snowmobiling in the winter to fishing and camping in the summer, Wisconsin is a beautiful place to visit and explore.
Can you share a fun fact about yourself that’s not in your official bio?
As a Jaycee volunteer, I was lucky enough to travel to over 40 countries and all 50 states.