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State of the State - 'speech focused on spinning a failed agenda' PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning   
Wednesday, 20 January 2016 10:51

scottwalker-dreamMADISON - Democrats were hoping to hear Governor Scott Walker outline a plan to work across the aisle to solve the challenges Wisconsinites face each day. Unfortunately, Gov. Walker gave an election year speech focused on spinning a failed agenda rubber-stamped by his Republican-controlled legislature instead of a plan to increase opportunity for citizens in every corner of our state.

Wisconsin Republicans have spent the last five years on an agenda that decreased family incomes and shrunk the middle class. Local schools are struggling to do more with less in the face of budget cuts, our roads and bridges continue to deteriorate, and mass layoffs just hit a five-year high.

If Republicans are ready to listen to concerns of Wisconsin families instead of focusing on their self-interests, Democrats are ready and willing to help lead on an agenda focused on growth, innovation, and opportunity.

After a year of missed opportunities, it's time to return to basic Wisconsin values and make sure that those who pay their fair share and play by the rules will have an opportunity to succeed and get ahead. Our state deserves an economy that works for everyone, not just millionaires and billionaires.

 
State of the State - 'nothing more than Band-Aid proposals' PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Wednesday, 20 January 2016 10:48

scott-walkerMADISON - During his speech tonight, Governor Walker offered nothing more than Band-Aid proposals that are anemic and weak compared to the significant challenges we face.

The numbers are staggering.

In 2015, roughly 10,000 hardworking Wisconsinites received layoff notices, the highest single-year total since the governor took office. Wisconsin still ranks in the bottom third for job growth and worst in the Midwest, and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state. We rank third-worst for student loan debt and our roads are also third-worst in the nation. And Republicans have cut $1 billion from public K-12 schools since 2010.

Wisconsin should be a leader; however, under Republicans we are falling behind. When I travel the state I hear people say we should invest in our public schools, level the playing field for the middle class, promote good-paying jobs and invest in our roads and bridges.

The truth is the State of our State is being neglected by Republicans putting their own needs above the needs of everyday Wisconsinites.

Last year, legislative Republicans turned their backs on Wisconsin’s interests in order to help Governor Walker in his failed run for president.

The Republican agenda included:

 

  • Shifting $800 million from public schools to unaccountable private voucher schools over the next decade;
  • A quarter billion dollar cut to our world-class university system;
  • Driving down wages for hardworking families;
  • And rejecting federal funding that would have meant health care coverage for tens of thousands more of our citizens.

 

This past fall, Republicans opened Wisconsin for corruption with an agenda designed to consolidate their own power and enrich the special interest groups bankrolling their campaigns. Perhaps most egregious was their late-night, secretive effort to dismantle our open records laws so they could hide their actions from the public.

It is clear after that Republicans cannot be trusted to do the right thing for the people of Wisconsin.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans at this juncture could not be clearer. My Democratic colleagues and I have made growing our economy and rebuilding the middle class our top priorities.

Our “Economic Opportunity Agenda” would help create good-paying jobs, close the skills gap by connecting workers with available jobs, increase wages and make us more competitive in a global economy. Our “Bring Back the Middle Class” package would boost retirement security and provide relief from high child-care costs and student debt.

Today alone on the Assembly floor, Democrats voted for proposals that would ensure significant investments in our public schools and affordable health care coverage for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites that, incidentally, would save Wisconsin taxpayers more than $300 million over the next two years. Democrats also voted for much-needed relief for more than a million student loan borrowers and equal pay protections for women in the workplace.

Sadly, Republicans rejected every single one of these bills.

Yet even in the face of Republicans’ inaction on these important issues and their betrayal of your trust and your interests, I believe the State of the People of Wisconsin is resilient.

I am inspired every day by the hardworking men and women who make up the fabric of our state. Wisconsin is in need of bold action for our workers and middle-class families and Democrats are ready to lead.

As Republicans continue to stack the deck against ordinary Wisconsinites and obscure their harmful agenda with election-year distractions, Democrats are focused on leveling the playing field and rebuilding the middle class the Republican agenda has hurt so deeply.

You can trust Democrats to restore opportunity and grow wages for ordinary, hardworking people.

You can trust Democrats to work to rebuild a strong middle class.

You can trust Democrats to grow an economy that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.

While legislative Republicans pursue an agenda focused on helping special interests and their own self-interests, legislative Democrats will continue to advocate for the people’s agenda in 2016 and beyond – but we need your help.

One of the proudest moments of 2015 was when you rose up and demanded the Republicans end their assault on open records. Your hard work and advocacy forced Republicans to back down, and you can do it again.

I encourage you to talk to your neighbors, friends and families about the direction our state is headed. Become engaged and make your voice heard. Together, we can put Wisconsin back on the right track and make sure the State of our State is stronger for all our citizens.

Thank you for watching, and as always, my fellow Wisconsinites, Forward!

 
Walker, Republican Leadership Spoiling Wisconsin PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Wednesday, 13 January 2016 13:53

walker-clapsALTOONA, WI - I am not a government worker. I do not qualify for civil service protection. I have never been represented by a union in the workplace. But the assault on Wisconsin’s civil service system deeply concerns me, saddens me, frightens me and angers me all at the same time. This affects me because it’s not just a government employment issue, and it’s not just a union issue. This is about Wisconsin’s soul.

Where our state’s current rulers are taking us is a place Wisconsin has been before. Wisconsin once had a spoils system. A little over a century ago, the people of our state were well acquainted with political patronage and cronyism.

stealing a stateCitizens and their elected representatives responded to those corrupt conditions with sweeping reforms, including the establishment of the civil service system, done under the slogan “The Best Shall Serve the State.” Not the most loyal. Not the most well-connected. Not the most faithful supporters. The best. The most qualified.

That system has done Wisconsin good for 110 years. It has been updated and modernized many times since then. But it has remained an objective, merit-based system for hiring and firing. It has remained true to the original intent that the best shall serve the state.

What is being done now is not an update. It is not modernization. It is the replacement of an objective, merit-based civil service system with a subjective system, one that can easily morph into a spoils system. Those pushing this legislation keep saying decisions will continue to be based on merit. But the point is, those in charge of government agencies will no longer have to base their hiring and firing decisions on objective standards of merit. They will be able to consider political loyalties, they will be able to take connections into account, they will be able to look at campaign donations and time spent working for the party in power.

If they are able to, you can bet they will.

Finally, it is important to point out that this assault on Wisconsin’s civil service system is not happening in isolation. The dark impulses that inspire the dismantling of 110-year-old safeguards against government corruption are the same ones behind the continuing attacks on our state’s laws requiring the public’s business be done out in the open and in plain sight. Civil service protections are targeted for the same reason Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board was abolished. Our state’s current rulers need to do away with obstacles to cronyism and patronage for the same reason they can’t stand independent, nonpartisan oversight of their activities. And for the same reason, they felt the need to shield suspected political crimes from John Doe investigations.

Civil service, open records, the GAB and John Doe criminal probes all threaten their grip on power, they all hinder the current rulers’ ability to serve a privileged few at everyone else’s expense. That is what this latest legislation targeting civil service is all about . . . making sure their power and privilege cannot be questioned and cannot be challenged.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 January 2016 14:11
 
"Out of progressivism’s ashes" - Blue Jean Nation PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Thursday, 07 January 2016 14:26

progressive_partyALTOONA, WI - We live in crazy and unpredictable times politically. The Republican Party descends into madness in so many respects and grows more self-destructive by the day, yet for now remains the majority party in America both nationally and at the state level. That says a lot about the Democratic Party’s weakness and lack of appeal.

In most statehouses across the country and most of the time in Congress, liberal or progressive ideas do not have the upper hand in policy debates and haven’t for quite some time. Progressive advocacy groups are regularly losing in the political arena, watching helplessly as right-wing forces successfully chip away at old progressive policies and programs or dismantle them altogether.

In searching for explanations, many rightly point to the corrupting influence of money in politics. Indeed, the exponential growth in money’s role in election campaigns and lobbying – and, just as importantly, the fact that so much of that money is supplied by so few – does cripple efforts to advance policies that promote the common good or serve the broad public interest.  A privileged few pay for politics, and a privileged few benefit from politics.

But here is modern-day progressivism’s great dilemma….

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 January 2016 15:03
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