Thursday May 25, 2017

Always Foward with Education & Reason

State and Local
Clean Wisconsin Welcomes DNR Drinking Water Plan PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Clean Wisconsin   
Friday, 12 May 2017 10:04

kewaunee-countyDNR plan will provide drinking water to residents with contaminated wells.

League Speaks on State Budget, Impact of Voter ID PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Friday, 12 May 2017 08:53

trump-clintonJoint Finance to vote on effort to misuse a “999 motion” in the state budget process. What difference did Wisconsin's voter photo ID really make in the November 2016 election?

MADISON - Over the next few weeks the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will be voting on various sections of the proposed state biennial budget. The League will be following the committee’s progress and we will let you know when you can make a difference with a timely call to your own legislators or members of Joint Finance. Here is a summary of the League's statement to lawmakers about the state budget.

In particular, we’ll be watching for any effort to misuse a “999 motion” in the state budget process, such as the sneaky attempt in 2015 to gut Wisconsin’s open records law on the evening before the July 4 holiday. This column from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council explains the 999 motion and notes it was “never meant to be a weaselly way for anonymous legislators to circumvent what is supposed to be an open process.”

The Impact of Voter ID

What difference did voter photo ID make in the November 2016 election in Wisconsin? One new report claims it suppressed as many as 200,000 votes, although experts have offered some words of caution about that figure. Another new article tells the stories of four individuals for whom the ID requirement was “insurmountable.”

The reason the League challenged the Wisconsin voter photo ID law in court was because it would not have prevented any case of illegal voting that has been documented in our state, and yet it does prevent eligible citizens from voting. That is a net loss for democracy!

Get LWV Calls to Action on Your Smartphone

Download our new smartphone app to receive our calls-to-action. The Voices app provides concise information and makes it easy to contact your state and federal elected officials. Click here to see how the app works and how to upload it to your smartphone (Android or Apple).

Democrats Wanted More Accountability and Transparency at WEDC PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Wisconsin Democrats   
Friday, 12 May 2017 08:07

walker-wedcJoint Finance Committee Republicans block Democratic attempts to recoup awards that are in default, limit outsourced jobs, and make job creation a condition of all awards.

MADISON - The budget-writing Joint Finance Committee met for an executive session on Tuesday, May 10th. Agency budgets debated by the committee included the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Military Affairs, Justice, Secretary of State and the Child Abuse and the Neglect Prevention Board.

Democrats offered several motions to increase accountability, expand economic opportunities and invest in local communities that were rejected by the Republican majority. On the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), Democrats offered motions to increase accountability and transparency of the agency.

The motions included:

  • granting additional clawback authority for WEDC to recoup awards that are in default;
  • adding award conditions that would require an award recipient to notify WEDC when jobs are outsourced;
  • requiring that job creation be a condition of all awards, and;
  • requiring that a defaulted award recipient rectify their defaulted award before receiving additional tax credits, including the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit

joint-finance-statebudRepublicans voted against all of these motions, continuing the trend of punting on WEDC accountability. Republicans also opened the floodgate to unlimited internal fund transferring between dedicated WEDC funds, and moved to take away WEDC loan origination requirements, reinstating the loan program after loans had been frozen for two years.

JFC Dems offered a motion to transfer WEDC fund surpluses to a dedicated rural broadband fund, which Republicans voted against along party lines. JFC Dems offered a motion to cap the WEDC budget at base 2016 and to transfer the surplus in SEG funds to a new “Main Street Fund” that would support small, rural, start-up or minority-owned businesses, which Republicans voted against along party lines.

JFC Dems also offered a motion to keep the WEDC budget discussion open until the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) concludes and publicizes its findings of the recently completed WEDC audit in an effort to allow JFC to apply audit findings to WEDC’s budget. The motion failed along party lines. Members unanimously supported a motion to extend Fab Lab funding to hire a contractor.

Improvements to Veterans Home at King, Long Term Solution for Veterans Trust Fund Rejected PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by State Senate Democrats   
Thursday, 11 May 2017 15:57

vietnamwarAll Democratic motions in the state budget committee to improve veteran’s services in Wisconsin were voted down along party lines.

MADISON - State Senator Jon Erpenbach and his Democratic Colleagues on the state budget committee offered motions today in the committee to fully fund the Veterans Trust Fund for the future, make permanent facility and staffing improvements at veterans nursing homes, increase access to mental health treatment for veterans, and provide local grants to prevent veteran homelessness.

jon-erpenbach“A state that supports their veteran community does not divert funds from our nursing homes when there are facility and staffing needs for our aging and ailing veterans. A long term solution for the viability of the Veterans Trust Fund is long overdue and JFC Democrats know that now is the time to increase state support for veterans. For years, Republicans ignored warning signs at King, rejected project improvements and dismissed facility safety issues as they continued to raid millions of dollars,” said Senator Jon Erpenbach.

The Governor’s budget moves $26 million from the veteran’s nursing homes, including King, to make the Veterans Trust Fund solvent. Instead Democrats proposed state tax dollar support for the Veterans Trust Fund. Democrats also proposed expanding the Needy Veterans Program to include a mental health services component. CVSO’s could provide a credit or voucher to veterans for local mental health services when they need it.

“Every day 20 veterans in this country fall victim to suicide. We should be doing all we can as a Legislature to support veterans when they ask for mental health and substance abuse care. While the USVA has made strides in improving access to services, there are still long wait times for appointments. Our plan allows veterans to be seen in their community nearly immediately while using an existing program and existing money,” Erpenbach said.

Since 2011, $23 million in requested facility maintenance and upgrade projects at the King Veteran Home were denied, delayed or deferred as Republicans transferred funding away from nursing home care to backfill Gov. Walker’s budget deficits in the Trust Fund. Over that time, veterans and family members who reside at King raised concerns about staff shortages, outdated medical equipment, tainted drinking water and urine-soaked carpeting. The King Veteran Home was assessed a fine and had its quality rating downgraded in November 2016 after a series of inspections and poor care contributed to the death of a resident.

All Democratic motions to improve veteran’s services in Wisconsin were voted down along party lines.

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