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Republican Agenda in Madison Full of Misguided Priorities PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Gordon Hintz, Rep. 54th Assembly District   
Thursday, 08 October 2015 17:01

walkerMADISON - In August, the Marquette University Law School poll showed 60 percent of voters in Wisconsin think Governor Walker "doesn't care about people like them”. Based on the current Republican Legislature’s priorities, it is not hard to understand why.

The Legislature’s focus should always reflect challenges facing the people of our state. Based upon the Republicans’ fall agenda, those issues are 1) disbanding the Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin’s campaign finance and elections watchdog, 2) removing anti-corruption protections from civil service laws, and 3) criminalizing life-saving research that uses any cells derived from fetal tissue.

These self-serving power grabs and extreme ideology are not even on the radar of most Wisconsinites. Many of my constituents’ most common challenges have to do with insecurity over future opportunity for themselves and their families. They ask me to address the real problems that make it hard for them to get ahead. Problems such as stagnant wages, the overwhelming cost of child care, and out-of-control student loan debt.

gordon_hintzWisconsin’s job growth has lagged behind the nation over the past four and half years. To make things worse, many of the new jobs are in low wage positions. Low wages make it harder to afford housing, food, child care and higher education. Low wages also reduce consumer spending (one of the main drivers of the economy) and increase the need for government assistance.

Declining income is not a new or temporary problem in Wisconsin. But if many of our new jobs created are lower wage, it would make sense to consider a minimum wage increase. It has been six years since minimum wage earners got a raise in Wisconsin. Raising the minimum wage to $10.10 would increase wages for over half a million Wisconsin workers, the average age of which is 35 years old. Yet as many other states take action, our Republican led Legislature won’t even hold a public hearing on a bill to gradually increase the minimum wage to $10.10 over three years.

Another huge challenge for working families is affordable child care. The annual cost of infant care in Wisconsin is $10,775. This is significant considering that a single mother’s median income in Wisconsin is $23,568, while a two-parent family is $79,589. For families who depend on low and moderate-income jobs, the high cost of child care can wipe out their income to the point where it is cheaper just to stay home.

I am a co-sponsor of a bill that creates a tax credit for expenses for daycare services. Depending on income, the credit may be worth up to a maximum amount of $3,000/year if there is one qualifying individual and up to $6,000/year if there are two or more. This bill would make child care more affordable, allowing parents who want to get back to work to return to their jobs.

Student loan debt remains a massive obstacle for many former students and their families. The high cost of student loan debt has an impact on all of us. Wisconsin currently has over 800,000 people with outstanding student loan debt, which prevents many from buying a home or saving money for the future. There is a Democratic bill that would allow borrowers to refinance their student loans, providing some relief from this crushing debt. This should be a priority.

Many of the challenges facing people in our state do not have a simple answer. But these challenges deserve our attention and consideration. These issues should be priorities for our Legislature. Unfortunately, Republicans seem more interested in serving themselves than truly serving the public that elected them.

***

State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) is a member of the Wisconsin Legislature’s budget committee, the Joint Committee on Finance.

 
Walker Using Police Shootings for Political Gain PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District   
Thursday, 03 September 2015 11:27

scott_walkerMADISON - Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker authored a guest column attempting to pin the murders of police officers on President Barack Obama. Walker wrote, “in the last six years under President Obama, we’ve seen a rise in anti-police rhetoric.” The column also says, “We’ve seen… a tendency to use law enforcement as a scapegoat.” The column further criticizes the tone in America which he says, “fixate on racial division.”

Governor Scott Walker has gone too far. Today’s column proves that Scott Walker will say anything to get elected. He knows darn well that President Obama is not responsible for the murder of law enforcement officers and to insinuate otherwise is disgusting. I call on Walker to immediately apologize to the families of the fallen officers for politicizing their loss and to the American public for taking his rhetoric too far.

Walker is right about one thing. We need to change the tone in America. It is time for Walker to tone down his rhetoric and the hypocrisy that comes with it. If Walker does as much to heal America’s racial divide has he’s done to heal Wisconsin’s, our country is in a world of trouble.

 
11 Steps to More Open and Honest Government PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Monday, 27 July 2015 11:20

capitol-dome-mdsnRepublicans who call the shots in Madison want to butcher the state’s open meetings law and turn our independent elections watchdog agency into a lapdog. It’s easy to focus on condemning the attacks, but let's think of ways to make open government laws sturdier and government more trustworthy.

Last Updated on Monday, 27 July 2015 11:42
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Wisconsin Deserves Better Than This Republican Budget PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Thursday, 16 July 2015 14:48

2015-budgetMADISON - While the ink dries on the new state budget, one thing remains clear: the anti-education, anti-middle class Republican budget is not a budget for the people of Wisconsin. It throws the people of Wisconsin under Governor Walker’s campaign bus as he travels to Iowa, New Hampshire and other primary states to launch his presidential run. And incredibly, the Republican legislature took the governor’s historically harmful budget and made it even worse.

The Republican budget will remove up to $800 million from Wisconsin’s public schools and give it to unaccountable private voucher schools over the next decade as a favor to their private-school campaign contributors. The state Department of Public Instruction estimates that most Wisconsin public school districts will see state aid cuts in the coming year. Not only have Wisconsin Republicans refused to make our public schools whole, they are continuing to essentially dismantle our public schools through massive cuts and creating uncertain teacher standards so they can focus instead on paying back their private-school campaign contributors.

Our local schools aren’t the only ones taking a huge hit. Republicans are also making a $250 million cut to our world-class university system. At a time when other states across the country are investing in higher education, universities in Wisconsin are facing the largest cut to higher education of any state in the country. This cut will only harm our universities’ ability to serve as a vital economic engine for our state and prepare our workers for success in a 21st-Century economy.

To top it all off, despite promises to the contrary, Republicans are kicking a bigger can down a longer road on needed infrastructure while also gutting funding for transportation projects with Republican legislators making changes to the governor’s budget that will cost 5,500 good-paying jobs. And they are dismantling successful long-term care programs that provide independence and confidence for thousands of seniors, people with disabilities and others with fragile health conditions.

Wisconsin has traditionally been known for having great public schools, strong universities, bountiful natural resources and a nationally respected model for caring for our most vulnerable. Yet the Republican budget sells out these proud traditions, our kids and our families in order to pay back their special interest supporters and further Governor Walker’s presidential ambitions. There is no part of what makes Wisconsin great that goes unharmed with this budget.

My Democratic colleagues have heard from citizens from across the state who told us how damaging this Republican budget is to their livelihoods and their communities, so we offered more than 50 amendments that fit Wisconsin values. Unfortunately every Democratic amendment was rejected – nearly every one on a party-line vote – as Republicans passed up every opportunity to make this budget better.

You deserved better than this budget. But despite all that is wrong with it, Democrats are more determined than ever to stand up for the people of Wisconsin and propose ideas that are true to the values we have held dear for generations: quality public education, a world-class university system, economic development and quality infrastructure, and working to improve the livelihoods and quality of life of Wisconsin’s hardworking middle-class families.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 July 2015 15:02
 
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