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Equal Pay Enforcement Bill Needed To Close Pay Discrimination Gap PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Tuesday, 14 April 2015 10:55

womenMADISON – Democratic legislators led by Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Rep. Chris Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) announced the introduction of the Equal Pay Enforcement Act today. The bill would reinstate commonsense legal protections for victims of workplace discrimination and help deter pay discrimination.

The introduction of the bill coincides with the upcoming National Equal Pay Day on April 14th. This date symbolizes how far into 2015 women must work to earn the same amount as men earned in 2014. It is estimated that Wisconsin families lose over $8 billion each year due to the pay discrimination wage gap.

All workers should be paid a fair wage for an honest day's work. I’m proud to be a co-author of this legislation to restore Wisconsin's Equal Pay Enforcement protections and create a more level playing field for women, veterans and minorities in our state. Rather than watching as family wages continue to decline, we need to end pay discrimination and ensure that everyone is paid a fair wage for their work.

Statistics from the national census show that women earn 78 cents, on average, for every dollar men earn for similar full-time work. The majority of women in Wisconsin bring home at least a quarter of their family’s income and there are over 230,000 Wisconsin households where women are the primary source of income.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 April 2015 11:05
Budgets Are About Priorities PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator 32nd District   
Friday, 10 April 2015 11:31

budget-hearing-2015MADISON - At listening sessions across Wisconsin this past month, thousands of residents testified in support of local schools, cost-saving health care programs and responsible environmental stewardship.

These are the investments that make Wisconsin the state we all love and value. So why are Republicans proposing cuts to all of these areas? Why, at a time of national economic growth and prosperity, is Wisconsin facing a $2.2 billion deficit?

After four years of special interest giveaways and tax breaks for the wealthy, Wisconsin has fallen further behind our neighboring states and the rest of the country.

While other states are investing in families, strengthening communities and growing their economies, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have created a massive $2.2 billion budget deficit and are moving our state backwards. Wisconsin has dropped nine spots to 40th in the nation for job growth and we are experiencing the worst middle-class decline in the country.

We need to turn our state around. Something needs to change.

If we want our next generation to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy, we need to invest in our children’s future. Republicans have made the largest cuts to public schools in Wisconsin’s history to provide massive giveaways to special interests. Rather than diverting even more money to subsidize an unaccountable private school voucher program, we should strengthen and improve the public school system we already have.

In fact, nearly $375 million could be used for school funding and property tax relief if Republicans would simply accept federal dollars to strengthen BadgerCare. This move would free up millions that could be used to invest in our schools, improve health care access and create thousands of good paying jobs in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, Wisconsin taxpayers have been forced to pay more and get less as a result of the misguided budget decisions made over the past four years. With a self-inflicted $2.2 billion budget deficit, stagnant family wages and a lagging economy, it’s time we get back to our core values and priorities.

What does it say about our state’s priorities when we have a Republican budget that spends more state taxpayer dollars on prison incarceration than UW education? What does it say about our priorities when Republicans reject federal BadgerCare funding and then propose health care fee increases for seniors? What does it say about our priorities when Republicans limit environmental conservation and then open the door to allow corporate naming of state parks?

These certainly aren’t the priorities or values that Wisconsin families have expressed over the past several months.

If legislative Republicans can afford to subsidize Gov. Walker’s international campaign trips with taxpayer funding, then surely we can find a way to protect our schools, working families and local communities from another round of devastating cuts.

After all, budgets are about priorities.


Last Updated on Friday, 10 April 2015 11:43
Republican Legislators Cannot Divorce Themselves from Walker’s Harmful Budget PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Assembly Democrats   
Thursday, 26 March 2015 10:48

peter_barcaMADISON - While Republican legislators may claim to soften the blow of Gov. Walker’s harmful state budget, they cannot divorce themselves from this disastrous budget and our state’s economic mess. Republicans lit our fiscal house on fire and they should not be applauded for running back into that house and rescuing just a few of the many Wisconsin treasures at risk.

Assembly Democrats stand ready to focus on the issues that really matter in our state – creating economic opportunity, strengthening our communities, providing opportunities for our children to succeed and standing up for the freedoms of all Wisconsinites.

We must recognize two vital facts. First, our nation is in a time of relative prosperity with the best national job numbers since the 1990s. Second, most of our neighboring states have strong surpluses while Wisconsin has a $2.2 billion structural deficit.

This is the third straight Republican budget that puts right-wing special interest giveaways and extreme conservative ideology above the needs of the citizens of this state. Wisconsin is 40th in the nation in job growth, experiencing the worst middle-class decline in the country, and facing a massive deficit because of deliberate choices made by Gov. Walker and his Republican legislative partners.

Wisconsin’s budget deficit is a self-inflicted wound caused by Republican policies over the past five years. Our state’s fiscal woes can largely be traced to three major policy decisions: Republicans turning away federal health care dollars, a massive tax giveaway to a small number of favored corporations, and a budget maneuver that gave wealthy families 13 times the break given to middle-class families.

These policies have cost our state dearly.

Rejecting federal health care dollars is costing Wisconsin more than $150 million a year and sending our hard-earned tax dollars to cover patients not here in Wisconsin, but in Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and many other states.

Instead of targeting tax relief to the middle class, Republicans squandered our temporary surplus on very expensive tax giveaways that largely aided the super-wealthy. The last Republican budget gave people making $300,000 or more over 13 times the tax break it gave to the average working family making around $50,000 a year.

Under the current Republican budget proposal, the American Dream will be farther out of reach for the middle class and those striving to get there. This budget slashes the University of Wisconsin System, makes another round of devastating cuts to our K-12 schools while allowing unlimited taxpayer money to be transferred to private schools, tramples our state’s conservation history by effectively ending our bipartisan Stewardship program, and continues to harm Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens by destabilizing Family Care and IRIS and slashing SeniorCare.

We are not going to stand silently by while Republicans dismantle our state’s key values. Democrats will once again offer responsible alternatives and a more balanced approach to budgeting that preserves our education and job training opportunities, invests in SeniorCare and strengthens other vital services in a way that is fiscally prudent.

Wisconsin deserves better than this budget. And the people of the state deserve better than Republican legislators who try to posture themselves as heroes in a crisis that they created through their irresponsible and deliberate policy choices.

I encourage all citizens to contact lawmakers, the Joint Finance Committee and the Governor to voice your opinion and let Republicans know that we need meaningful changes and that a few modest changes won’t get them off the hook for this budget disaster.

By Rep. Peter Barca
Assembly Democratic Leader

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