Tuesday July 14, 2020

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Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District

Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District

State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legislative assistant, Erpenbach was elected to represent the 27th Senate District in November of 1998 and was re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Jon’s Senate colleagues elected him Senate Democratic Leader in December 2002. He served in that position until December 2004.
Senator Erpenbach has worked in the Legislature to regulate issue ads since his election in 1998 to the Senate, that includes working on bipartisan proposals to limit outside spending in elections and shed light on who is spending money to influence the outcomes of elections and legislation.
For more information please contact his office at 608-266-66790 or 888-549-0027 or sen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov

Erpenbach on Nationwide Protests: Black Lives Matter

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 03 June 2020
in Wisconsin

george-floyd-protest-milwWe must listen to Black Americans, their experiences, acknowledge the hurdles they face, and make bold changes to address these systematic inequities and injustices, says State Senator.


West Point, WI - While many are feeling the pressure of a global pandemic, for many Americans there is another virus that has been running through the veins of our society for centuries - racism. The protests that are taking place throughout our country, and all over the world, reinforce that our society and our leaders need to do much, much better at delivering justice and equity in our communities. No more Black lives should be lost due to hatred and bigotry.

As many of you were, I was sad to witness a woman overtly use her whiteness as a weapon against a Black man, and then I was devastated to learn about the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately, these were only the most recent tragedies – the lives of Tony Robinson, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and many more have also been senselessly taken.  Black people are dying in Wisconsin, and all over our country while doing the most mundane things that as white people we often take for granted.

jon-erpenbachI will not pretend that I do or will be able to understand the experiences of Black Americans. However, as an elected official, I hope to be a part of the solution to put in place structural changes that will prevent injustices from happening again and again. We cannot stand for leaders in Wisconsin or on the federal level calling for violence against those who are asking to be heard.

These individuals are our friends and neighbors, and we must listen to their experiences, acknowledge the hurdles they face and make bold changes to address these systematic inequities and injustices.

It is not our jobs as white people to tell those who are continuously and systematically oppressed how they can or cannot protest. I know the damage and looting that’s been done has not been from those seeking to put a face on the injustices and giving voice to those who are no longer with us.  Don’t lose sight of the issues at hand. Don’t lose sight of the changes that need to be made.

Change starts with us. It is time to do the work.

Black Lives Matter.

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Erpenbach Calls for Senate to Remove Unemployment Insurance Barriers

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 28 May 2020
in Wisconsin

unemploymentRepublicans put into place more than a dozen new hurdles in just eight years that Wisconsinites have to jump over in order to receive the benefits they have earned. Time for political games with people's lives is over.


West Point – In December 2014 an audit was performed on the Wisconsin Unemployment System. The audit found that in FY 2013-2014, 1.7 million calls to the call centers, which was 60.2% of the total calls, were blocked because the queue was full. The audit showed significant issues and vulnerabilities in the process, which should have sounded the alarm for Republican leadership, but they took no action to modernize the system.

Fast forward to 2020, during a global pandemic that has resulted in historic unemployment levels, and Wisconsinites are now forced to pay the price for Republican inaction. Unfortunately, instead of taking steps to modernize the system – that was not built to handle the challenges we are facing today - Republicans have spent the last decade doing everything possible to make it harder to get unemployment benefits. The non-partisan Legislative Council compiled a list of changes to Unemployment under Republican control. It shows that instead of working to improve access to benefits that Wisconsinites have earned, Republicans would rather assume fraud and create tripwires for Wisconsinites who work for a living.

scott-fitzgeraldl-stands-behind-walkerRepublicans put into place more than a dozen new hurdles in just eight years that Wisconsinites have to jump over in order to receive the benefits they have earned. One wrong step, and the claimant has to go down a long road of investigations, eligibility questions and fact finding, which only prolongs the process. These excessive policies have resulted in frustration and delays for too many Wisconsin workers.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is facing enormous challenges and have done everything in their power to navigate these unprecedented times. They have been fielding millions of calls a week, are continuing to increase their capacity and hours to keep up with demand, have blocked attempted identity-fraud, and are doing everything within their power to provide service to Wisconsinites during this public health emergency. The Department has proactively worked to improve the system while navigating patchwork laws and are working around the clock to get Wisconsinites the benefits they deserve.

Meanwhile, my colleagues across the aisle have resorted to finger pointing and blaming a Department that informed them of the challenges they were facing years ago. Today at 11:00am the Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform will hold an informational hearing on the unemployment system to discuss the challenges of the program, difficulties people are experiencing, how DWD has responded and how to move forward. I ask my Republican colleagues to take this time to turn the mirror on themselves and to work to remove legislative barriers that are hindering DWD from more effectively doing their job.

jon-erpenbach-radioWe have work to do — it’s time both sides of the aisle to come together and pass meaningful legislation that will provide long-term relief to workers, students, families, and seniors. It’s likely that today’s hearing will go longer than Republican leaders have allowed the Senate to work since this pandemic started. Their delay has already cost Wisconsin $25 million of our federal dollars, and their legislation did far too little to remove the legislative tripwires that are preventing Wisconsinites from receiving the benefits they have earned.

I have been listening to my constituents who are looking for help with their unemployment and I believe our jobs as legislators should go beyond giving input from afar. Getting these benefits can be the difference between being able to afford groceries, pay rent, and survive during this pandemic. Now is the time to come together and get work done.

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How Partisan Gerrymandering Limits Access to Care

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 29 February 2020
in Wisconsin

healthcare-family-drThe GOP majority in Madison, which actually represents a minority of Wisconsinites, is costing us money and lives by adhering to Walker era policy of resistance to Affordable Care, says Senator.


West Point - On February 24, 2020, the Center for American Progress released a report on how gerrymandering has prevented more than 2 million uninsured people from getting covered through the Medicaid expansion. The report analyzes states like Wisconsin that have refused to expand health insurance coverage to low income residents despite a majority of people supporting the idea. Extreme partisan gerrymandering insulates Republican politicians in legislatures like Wisconsin’s from being held accountable for blocking access to coverage for over a hundred thousand people and sending billions of tax dollars to other states.

According to the report, “74% of Americans have a favorable view of Medicaid – including 82% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans.” Here in Wisconsin, that is echoed. According to the Marquette Law Poll, 70% approve of the expansion of Medicaid. Despite its popularity, there are still states where Republican controlled legislatures, who remain in control due to gerrymandered districts, continue to refuse the expansion or are attempting to undermine the coverage with needless barriers.

jon-erpenbach“I’m not sure what it will take to get Wisconsin Republicans to see the error of their ways. All of the reports and studies show the same story,” said Senator Erpenbach. “Wisconsin is among the minority of states that continues to send over a billion federal taxpayer dollars to neighboring states it order to prove a point.”

In the 2018 general election, Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic candidates received 54.2% of the vote, and State Senate Democrats received 49% of the vote, however, Republicans still won a substantial majority in both chambers. Unfortunately, gerrymandering leads to candidates being more extreme and less likely to listen to their constituents once they’re in office, which is the case in Wisconsin. Despite the majority of Wisconsinites wanting expanded health care coverage, the report found that by refusing the expansion Wisconsin has forgone insuring 108,000 people which has resulted in 300 preventable deaths in 2019 alone.

“The Medicaid expansion would make health care more affordable for everyone,” said Senator Erpenbach. “It would reduce the costs of premiums on the individual market, save taxpayers millions of dollars, help keep rural hospitals open, and frankly, save lives. Extreme gerrymandering has held Wisconsin back and has resulted in Wisconsin falling behind neighboring states. It is vital that elected officials work for their constituents and in order for that to happen, voters need to be able to choose their leaders, not the other way around.”

###

View the Report here.

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It’s Time to Stand Up for our Agricultural and Rural Communities

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 31 January 2020
in Wisconsin

door-county-peopleState Senator says family farms are Wisconsin’s legacy and makes proposals to better address the real issues that our rural communities are facing.


West Point - The story is starting to become cliché. Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support a proposal that benefits our state, Republican leadership cries “partisanship”, and blocks action until an undetermined future date. We saw this happen with funding to combat homelessness, which still has seven pending proposals awaiting Republican action, and now we are watching this happen with Governor Evers’ call for a special session to help our agricultural and rural communities.

During the State of the State Address, Governor Evers announced that he will be prioritizing Wisconsin’s farmers, and called for a special session to take up proposals to help alleviate the strain on our rural communities. The special session was scheduled for Tuesday, and unfortunately, the day came and passed with no discussion, no debate, and no progress. In fact, Republicans chose instead to ignore our farm crisis and hold a partisan political rally of their own.

Democrats stand ready to take up a plethora of proposals, from passing the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports (WIDE) to providing grants to small dairy processing plants and increasing support for farmer mental health. Unfortunately, Republicans were nowhere to be found. For generations, farmers have served as the backbone for our state, and it is time that we step up and support our agricultural industries and rural communities.

Wisconsin unfortunately leads the nation in farm bankruptcies, with an average of 2 dairy farms closing per day. Whether it is effects of global warming wiping out crops, bad federal policies disrupting trade or slapping on unnecessary tariffs, or massive corporate farms shutting down their competition, each day these challenges stack up and get harder to address. These challenges are outside of the control of Wisconsin farmers, and it will take legislative action to keep our state alive.

jon-erpenbachThe truth is, agricultural diversity is one of Wisconsin’s greatest strengths. That’s one reason why it’s vital we do everything we can to maintain our smaller family farms. Agriculture contributes nearly $105 billion to our state’s economy and thousands of jobs. From vegetables, to cranberries to leading the nation in cheese production, our agricultural industry should not be taken for granted.

Thankfully, Governor Evers did more than call a special session, he also signed an Executive Order to create the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. The commission is tasked with going out into our communities to listen to the issues that are affecting farmers, the agricultural industry and rural businesses. The commission will create recommendations based on the information they gather and report back to the Governor, so that we can better address the real issues that our rural communities are facing.

Additionally, the Governor announced his plan to work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to establish the Office of Rural Prosperity. This action will help to ensure that our farmers, agriculture, and rural communities are a part of Wisconsin’s economic development strategy.

Wisconsin depends on our farmers, so this crisis is not their burden to carry alone. It is the food that comes to our tables, the farmer’s markets that bring people together, the businesses that depend on access to locally grown food, and the communities that keep our state afloat. Our farms are Wisconsin’s legacy. The least we can do is show up to the discussion.

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Wisconsin Democrats Introduce Bills to Protect Property Taxpayers

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 12 December 2019
in Wisconsin

school-bus-kidsLegislation attempts to reverse the increasing bill for the costly school choice and voucher programs at the expense of public schools.


MADISON - Property taxpayers have a hidden cost on their bills this month. According to the Department of Public Instruction, this hidden fee will cost the 27th Senate District $3.1 million, and upwards of $95.6 million statewide. If left unchecked, this fee – voucher schools – will increase year after year without oversight or authority.

This week Democrats introduced legislation to give the power back to taxpayers, instead of making them blindly foot the increasing bill for the costly school choice and voucher programs at the expense of public schools. Representative Sondy Pope (D-Mt.Horeb), Representative Dave Considine (D-Baraboo), and I introduced legislation to freeze the number of participants in the 3 main voucher programs and require teachers in the voucher programs to be licensed. Additionally, our bills will limit the voucher to lesser of the current payment or the school district’s general aid per student, and limit voucher payments to no more than tuition charged. Additionally, Senator Janet Bewley (D-Mason) introduced legislation to require a referendum before a district faces increased property taxes from vouchers taking away aid.

These proposals would ensure that property taxpayers don’t lose more to voucher operations than they would receive in state general aid per student, would ensure that voucher operations don’t take in more from taxpayers than they would have received in tuition, and would give the power back to taxpayers to decide how their tax dollars are spent.

school-meeting-crowdThis is not the first time that Democrats attempted to increase transparency and accountability this year. In Governor Evers’ budget proposal, he included several of the same proposals that we have reintroduced today. However, Republicans on the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) removed all provisions aimed at increasing the standards of voucher programs on their first vote.

Voucher school operators, on average, takes $2,618 more per student than the general aid a public school district receives. In 97% of districts statewide, property taxpayers would pay more per student to voucher schools than for their public schools, and although general aid is designed to limit the cost of public schools to property taxpayers, homeowners are on the hook for their increased taxpayer contributions to voucher programs.

Additionally, many private schools in the voucher programs charge significantly less in tuition than the voucher payments. In those cases, private schools make more from school district property taxpayers than they would have received in tuition. Choice schools often funnel these tax dollars to statewide lobby organizations that are designed to demand more from taxpayers without oversight. In other words, these voucher schools are draining resources from public schools, while profiting at property taxpayers’ expense.

Our public schools are already tragically underfunded, and taxpayers are forced to raise their own taxes through referendums in order to keep their doors open. Taxpayers deserve full transparency when it comes to the unreliable voucher programs, and the legislation that we introduced this week is a step in the right direction.

As avid supporters of public education, we are proud to work alongside our Democratic colleagues to fight back against the bad policies and burdens that taxpayers have to endure under Republican leadership. These bills are common-sense proposals that allow property taxpayers to choose whether or not they shell out hundreds of millions of dollars without oversight or authority.

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