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15
Jan
2016

capitol-dome-mdsnDemocratic proposals on school funding, broadband and student loan debt gain support.


MADISON – With a public approval rating at 31 percent and lingering opposition to Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign, many Republican lawmakers have found themselves in a difficult position. In an effort to shift attention away from troubling poll numbers and disappointing job losses, Republican lawmakers are turning to a new source for policy ideas: Democrats.

jennifer-shilling“For five years, Republican legislators followed Gov. Walker’s lead in cutting local school funding, limiting access to health care and rejecting investments for broadband projects,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “As a result of these misplaced priorities, we’ve seen family wages decline, a shrinking middle class and mass layoffs at a five year high. While it’s taken them a few years to recognize the growing challenges in our state, I appreciate that Republicans are finally looking at Democratic ideas that will jump start our economy and strengthen Wisconsin’s middle class.”

Complicating matters for legislators who want to see progress on these issues is the fact that Republican leaders are planning to adjourn the legislative floor period as early as February or March. This leaves a short window to pass an ambitious agenda and follow through on unresolved promises to strengthen school accountability, overhaul the state’s troubled jobs agency and pass a long-term transportation funding fix.

“Senate Democrats continue to push our comprehensive Badger Blueprint agenda which includes a wide range of bold, forward-looking pro-growth initiatives that invest in education, infrastructure and economic development,” added Shilling. “In order to move Wisconsin forward, we need innovative solutions on student loan debt like Sen. Dave Hansen’s Higher Ed., Lower Debt bill to allow families to refinance their loans at lower interest rates. We need to restore rural broadband investments like Sen. Kathleen Vinehout has championed for years. And we need to restore the funding for rural schools that have seen some of the largest cuts from Republicans in Madison. With a short window of opportunity, we need swift action on these priorities and not just legislative lip-service.”

Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
 
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15
Jan
2016

walker_wavesGovernor’s Opposition to Student Loan Refinancing Will Increase Brain Drain as Graduates Move to States like Minnesota for Higher Paying Jobs and Lower Interest Rates.

Written by GBP Staff   
 
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13
Jan
2016

bob-gannon-MADISON - It happened Tuesday, January 12th on the first day of the 2016 legislative session.

Senate Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) rose to argue with Rep. Bob Gannon (R-Slinger) over a news release Gannon issued last week complaining about Milwaukee’s homicide rate and how more homicides occur in black neighborhoods with high unemployment rates.

Gannon, a Slinger Republican, made an obscene gesture toward Barca, giving him "the finger". The minority leader looked shocked and demanded Republican leaders reprimand him.

The exchange went as follows:

Gannon: “If Milwaukee wants to export something, how about you export safety and jobs? Thank you Mr. Speaker.”

peter_barcaBarca: “It’s bad enough, Mr. Speaker, that this release comes out. If the gentleman’s misunderstood, he can certainly stand up and apologize, and say ‘look, I’m misunderstood. I didn’t mean…’ Did you just give me the finger? Mr. Speaker, I’d like to make a motion to reprimand him! He just stood up — I’m sure WisconsinEye will plainly show him giving me the finger. What is wrong with you?”

martha-laningToday, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning released the following statement regarding the racially insensitive remarks defended by Rep. Bob Gannon and the obscene gesture made by Gannon on the first Assembly session day of 2016:

"Representative Gannon should be ashamed to call himself a State Representative in light of his actions yesterday. It is a sad day when doing the people's work in our state capitol is interrupted by a legislator breaking the most basic rules of civility and decent behavior.

"Rep. Gannon has apologized since yesterday's incident, but his refusal to apologize for his remarks about the city of Milwaukee and its residents remains unacceptable.

"Rep. Gannon should apologize not only for his reprehensible actions on the Assembly floor, but for showing an outright dissrespect to the people of Milwaukee, the people of Wisconsin, and the people's house he is supposed to represent."

Written by GBP Staff   
 
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13
Jan
2016

walker-wedc

Legislation introduced by Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem) and Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) aims to crack down on individuals and businesses that commit fraud when applying for economic development assistance.


MADISON - Bi-partisan legislation aimed at cracking down on individuals and businesses that commit fraud when applying for economic development assistance from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation took its first step toward passage when it received a public hearing before the Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy.

Samantha KerkmanAssembly Bill 669 was introduced by Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem) and Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) in response to two recent high-profile cases where Wisconsin taxpayers lost $1.5 million after the applicants were alleged to have left out information that would have led to their applications for assistance being denied.

“Whether it’s $200 in the FoodShare program or $200,000 from WEDC, fraud is fraud,” said Rep. Kerkman. “Sufficient deterrents to fraud help support a strong WEDC, and a strong WEDC helps build a strong economy.”

In 2011 William Minihan, the owner of Building Committee, Inc., used a $500,000 loan from taxpayers to pay off a lease he held on a fleet of luxury cars. In 2015 it was revealed that Ron Van Den Heuvel, owner of Green Box was being investigated for lying on his application in which he received a $1.12 million taxpayer loan from WEDC. Investigators allege he used the taxpayer money to in part pay off his personal loans.

dave-hansen“This type of fraud, because of the large numbers involved, can cost taxpayers millions in a single case. Committing economic assistance fraud steals from all the people of this state, deprives honest business owners from getting the help they need to grow their businesses here and ultimately hurts workers,” said Hansen. “A strong message needs to be sent that if you commit this type of fraud you are going to pay a high price.”

AB-669 creates the crime of committing fraud in applying for economic development assistance. Those found guilty could be sentenced up to 15 years in prison and face fines up to $50,000. In addition, that individual or business they represent could be denied future assistance for seven years.

Written by GBP Staff   
 
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