Thursday May 28, 2020

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Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30

Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30

Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet

Supreme Court Put Profits Over People

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 14 May 2020
in Wisconsin

covid-19-workers-meatpackingWednesday's decision comes as no surprise, says Green Bay Senator. Justices put the bidding of their corporate benefactors over workers' lives.


GREEN BAY, WI - Congratulations workers! Thanks to the corporate controlled State Supreme Court you’re going back to work whether you feel safe or not. Because now that they have repealed the Safer at Home order if your employer calls you back to work and you don’t feel safe you will lose your unemployment.

dave_hansenIn a decision that comes as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the Republican, corporate-controlled State Supreme Court a majority has decided to put profits over the lives of workers, customers and their families.

Also in a move that is as no surprise, they abandoned their own values to do the bidding of their corporate donors. Judicial activism is alive and well on the state’s highest court when it comes to doing the bidding of their corporate overlords.

Perhaps those who believe people’s lives are more important than corporate profits should begin the process of recalling those justices who, once again, did the bidding of their corporate benefactors at the expense the people.

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Appleton GOP Press Conference on “Re-opening” Dangerous and Tone Deaf

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 09 May 2020
in Wisconsin

jim-steineke-appleton-wbaySenator says area Republicans don’t seem to care that the majority of people in this state do not want to re-open now, nor do they care about the predicament the workers are in. They just seem so eager and willing to risk the lives of others.


GREEN BAY, WI - Thursday’s press conference at an Appleton dairy by Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke and area Assembly Republicans to call for regional re-opening at a time when Brown County is seeing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases is as dangerous as it is tone deaf.

Not one person speaking at their press conference was a health expert. Not one person there seems to understand that just because some parts of the state aren’t showing significant numbers of cases doesn’t mean there aren’t more cases than are known. Not one of them seems to care that re-opening those areas could lead to significant spikes in cases and overwhelm smaller, rural hospitals leading to needless loss of life.

covid-19-workers-meatpackingThey also don’t seem to care that the majority of people in this state do not want to re-open now. Nor do they care about the predicament they are going to put workers in by forcing them to choose between keeping their job and protecting their lives and the lives of their families.

dave-hansenNo life is expendable. No person should be forced back to work before it is safe to do so.

The fact that these so-called pro-life Republicans are so eager and willing to risk the lives of thousands of their constituents calls their judgment and motive into serious question.

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Justice Roggensack’s comments show she is unfit to serve

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 07 May 2020
in Wisconsin

patience-roggensack_050720Her comments also show a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of just how transmittable the coronavirus is, says Green Bay Senator.


GREEN BAY, WI - As Brown County continues to increase at the fastest rate in the state, Justice Roggensack’s comments that workers at meat packing plants “are not regular folks” are as dangerous as they are insulting, demonstrating a sense of elitism and ignorance one might expect from our current president but not from a justice on our Supreme Court.

dave-hansen-gbHer comments also show a complete lack of knowledge or understanding of just how transmittable the coronavirus is which makes her judgment dangerous to those who will soon be forced back to work when she and the other activist Republican justices are expected to rule against Governor Evers’ Safer at Home order.

Justice Roggensack’s comments show her to be unfit to serve on the state’s highest court. At the very least she should recuse herself from any and all decisions related to challenges to Governor Evers’ order.

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Continuing Outbreak Demonstrates Need for Continuing Safer at Home

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 01 May 2020
in Wisconsin

covid-19-protest-madisonWithout vastly expanded testing, you really have no way of knowing how many people around you are infected. That's why early reopening plans by Republicans and others who oppose the Safer at Home order are so dangerous, says Green Bay Senator.


GREEN BAY - Here’s the thing about the coronavirus, one day you don’t have it and then you do. One day a county or community is free of it then it isn’t. And when it shows up if you aren’t taking the necessary precautions you go from having a few cases to a lot…in a very short period of time.

Until we have vastly expanded testing and the ability to trace each case, you really have no way of knowing how many people around you might have it because most people who are infected don’t show symptoms. That’s why the coronavirus is so dangerous.

For weeks we heard from Republicans and others who oppose the Safer at Home order that the virus is really only a problem in Dane and Milwaukee counties. And for a while that may have been true. Until it wasn’t. Don’t believe it? Ask the people who live in and around Brown County. Only mere weeks ago Brown County was in the group of counties where it appeared there was nothing to worry about. Then cases started showing up in JBS and other meat packing plants and the number of cases is now at 968.

A significant number of people work in Green Bay but live elsewhere in places like Oconto, De Pere, Pulaski and other communities outside of Green Bay. If there is no social distancing in place the likelihood that they will become infected in Green Bay and take it home to their families and communities in neighboring communities becomes a very real possibility.

dave-hansen-senateGreen Bay and Brown County are not unique. Anywhere that people work or live in close proximity to each other is at risk of spreading the virus if social distancing isn’t followed. All it takes is one employee to test positive and your community is at risk of becoming the next hot spot.

scott_fitzgeraldRepublican leaders Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald say that Minocqua is not Milwaukee. Not that long ago South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said South Dakota isn’t New York City. Now South Dakota has 2,245 cases and 11 deaths. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said, “we aren’t California. We are not New York.” Alabama now has 6,499 cases and 222 deaths and nearly the same ratio of cases as New York has. So just because Minocqua “isn’t Milwaukee” now doesn’t mean it won’t become a hot spot if we don’t act responsibly.

In a rare act, both parties came together in Congress and passed the CARES Act. Included in that legislation are programs designed to help people stay away from each other and to help small businesses and workers make it through the pandemic. Is it perfect? Not by a longshot. More will need to be done.

But in order for us to avoid harm and have any chance of safely getting as much of our economy as possible up and running before we have a cure or vaccine, we all need to do our part and follow the Safer at Home order. And those who are trying to use the pandemic to score political points by urging that the economy be re-opened before it is safe to do so need to stop and think about the innocent lives that will be lost and the economic ruin that will happen if we don’t do this right.

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Senator Dave Hansen Announces Retirement

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
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on Thursday, 09 January 2020
in Wisconsin

dave-hansen-jane-gbAfter 40 years of public service, popular local leader, 72, retiring from the State Senate at the end of the current term.


GREEN BAY - After much thought, reflection and discussion with my wife Jane and my family, I have decided not to seek re-election to the State Senate and retire at the conclusion of my current term.

I have been blessed in so many ways: meeting Jane and her agreeing to marry me, the birth of our three daughters Kathy, Cari and Christy; the addition of our three sons-in-law who together with our daughters have further blessed Jane and me with eleven terrific grandkids and also being given the privilege to serve on the Brown County Board and in the Wisconsin State Senate.

I am proud to have led a life of public service for more than forty years. First as a teacher and coach at Annunciation Catholic School in Green Bay, as a truck driver for the city of Green Bay, as a member of the Brown County Board and finally as a state senator. I’ve always tried to do my best and I hope the people I have had the privilege to serve believe I have had their best interests at heart and that I have done well by them.

dave-hansen-jane-victoryOn December 18th I turned 72. And as much as it has become a cliché in politics, I truly am retiring to spend more time with my family. I have no fears about my chances for reelection having survived an attempted recall in 2011 and winning handily in a district that Republicans told me they gerrymandered specifically to defeat me. I believe had I chosen to run again I would win.

But as anyone who knows me will tell you, Jane and my family are the most important people in the world to me and it is important to me that I spend more time with them at this stage of our lives.

dave-hansen-seniorcareI will miss the many friends I have made in the Legislature and state government just as I look forward to continuing the many friendships I have made back home as a state senator. It truly has been a privilege to represent what I consider to be the best place in the world, with the best people, to live and raise a family. It is an honor I will always carry with me.

I will also miss the opportunity being a state senator has given me to meet so many people who I otherwise wouldn’t have and to learn about them, their families, their accomplishments, hopes, dreams and concerns. I have especially enjoyed doing what I can to support our young people by visiting their classrooms, meeting with them during school tours of the Capitol, and helping them celebrate important achievements like attaining Eagle Scout, succeeding in their academic and athletic endeavors and more.

As much as I’ve enjoyed my time in the State Senate, however, after what will be 40 years of public service I am looking forward to January 2021 and beginning a the next chapter in my life with Jane and my family.

To all the people of the 30th District thank you for the honor and privilege to serve you.

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Nygren Wrong on State Budget

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
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on Sunday, 31 March 2019
in Wisconsin

wisconsin-koch-industriesState Senator Dave Hansen of Green Bay responds to Rep. John Nygren’s column on the State Budget in the Marinette Eagle Herald.


GREEN BAY, WI - To hear Rep. Nygren tell it you would think Governor Evers’ budget should be dismissed because it isn’t Republican enough. In truth Governor Evers’ budget is a responsible budget, moderate in its approach and reasonable in its effort to work for all of the people, not just corporations and the wealthy.

Under Walker and the Republicans, the state budget grew by leaps and bounds. Yet we saw embarrassingly little progress on fixing our roads, lowering health insurance costs, or dealing with the public school funding crisis. Despite controlling all branches of state government, Republicans also failed to deliver on Walker’s promise to create 250,000 jobs.

2015-budgetThey did, however, cut billions in taxes for corporations and the rich and while committing over $3 billion of your tax dollars to Foxconn which so far has failed to live up to any of its promises. They also rolled back important environmental protections that protect our air and water and managed to drive down wages for workers by opposing any effort to increase the minimum wage and by repealing the law that would help close the gap in pay between women and men.

For those who like to cry socialism anytime someone suggests ideas to help low-income and middle-class families improve their standard of living, it’s easy to suggest that dependence on government is the problem while ignoring that it’s nearly impossible to raise a family on Wisconsin’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

So it should come as no surprise that our new governor has a lot on his plate.

When he campaigned for governor, Tony Evers did so on some very basic but important promises: Get our fair share of federal MA funding to expand and lower the cost of health insurance.

As governor, Scott Walker refused to take our share of federal MA money because he was running for president. Now that he’s gone we should accept the MA money. Doing so would bring back hundreds of millions of our federal tax dollars making it possible to help families who earn too much to qualify for BadgerCare but not enough to afford their own health insurance. Unfortunately, Republicans in Madison are still opposed.

Close loopholes that help the rich and corporations and provide a real middle-class tax cut.

diane-hendricksThe Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit has done nothing to create jobs but has been very good at taking money out of everyone else’s pockets and giving it to a bunch of rich billionaires and millionaires, many of whom also happen to donate to Republican campaigns. Under the M&A credit billionaires like Diane Hendricks get a check from the state each year averaging $2 million.

Governor Evers’ budget leaves the Agricultural Tax Credit in place but ends the handouts to the billionaires and millionaires, using the savings to cut taxes for the middle class.

teaching-studentsSave our public schools.

Under Walker, the Republicans cut over $1 billion from our public schools. Governor Evers is committed to restoring that funding. Unfortunately, Rep. Nygren and the Republicans seem willing to accept “failing schools” as the status quo in our state, instead preferring to subsidize a second, unaccountable private school system with taxpayer dollars.

Fix our roads and highways.

No one wants to raise taxes. But after eight years of neglect and borrowing to the point that nearly 25 cents of every dollar raised for transportation goes to pay debt rather than fix our roads, something needs to be done. In a truly bi-partisan, Governor Evers adopted part of a Republican plan that Rep. Nygren himself supported but which Republicans now oppose.

This is just the beginning of the budget process. But if the Republicans’ lame duck session and their actions since are any indication of what’s to come it is going to be a very long process indeed. After eight years of neglect, the voters said it was time for a change. It’s past time for Rep. Nygren and the Republicans to admit this fact and start working with Governor Evers for the good of all the people of our state, not just their wealthy friends.

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Republicans Attempt to Turn Back the Clock, But There is More Work to Do

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Friday, 07 December 2018
in Wisconsin

gb-rates4Thanks to a lot of hard work we have a new Governor, Attorney General and State Treasurer, we won the statewide vote, but gerrymandering has left the GOP in control of the legislature. No time to waste feeling bad, the next major election is upon us.


GREEN BAY, WI - On November 6th the voters chose real change for our state after 8 years of Governor Walker and the Republican agenda.

It was part of one of the biggest electoral waves in our nation’s history.

In congress Democrats are poised to pick up 40 seats in the house. That is the 3rd largest gain in recent history, second only to the Republicans gains in 2010 and 2014.

But it was the biggest margin of victory in total votes in any mid-term election in history. Democrats received over 9 million more votes than Republicans and the 8.1% percent margin is bigger than any recent midterm including the GOP wins of 1994, 2010 and 2014. It even surpassed the Democrats’ wave in 2006.

And it all came in a mid-term election in which turnout itself was historic. In Wisconsin nearly 2.7 million people, or 60% of registered voters turned out. According to the New York Times, approximately 114 million votes were cast in U.S. House races in 2018, compared to 83 million in 2014. That compares to just 36.7 percent in 2014, and 41 percent in 2010.

So what votes in Wisconsin accomplished is truly impressive. Thanks to a lot of hard work we have a new Governor, new Attorney General and new State Treasurer. We should all be happy and proud of that.

So it is naturally disappointing that soon-to-be former Governor Scott Walker (Did I mention he lost?) and the Republicans in the Legislature once again showed their true colors by using a lame duck session Tuesday night to strip power from Governor-elect Evers and Attorney General-elect Kaul. Their actions are repugnant and a slap in the face not only to the majority of voters who chose a new, more progressive direction for our state, but to the spirit of democracy and the peaceful transition of power as well.

I’ve spoken to people who are disheartened by this. Especially after all the hard work leading up to the lame duck session making calls, sending emails and helping organize others to do the same to try to stop them from their egregious assault on our state’s valued democratic traditions.

dave-hansenAnd while I, too, am angry and frustrated I am also happy and proud at the effort made by those who stood up to Walker and the Republicans. You might not realize it but your voices made a difference.

tony-eversA day after Tony Evers was elected Republican Speaker Robin Vos vowed to limit his veto authority. There were rumors that they would try to eliminate the ability Governor’s to veto any unfair maps the GOP produces during redistricting (an issue very close to my heart!). They were even talking about moving the 2020 presidential primary in order to protect Dan Kelly, a Republican justice on the State Supreme Court who is coming up for reelection.

But none of that happened. And even though changes to other bills were minor, your efforts caused them great concern. We were supposed to go to the floor to debate their schemes at 11:00 a.m. that morning. 17 hours later we were still waiting for the Republicans to quit arguing amongst themselves and come back to the floor.

One of the results was their failure to pass a bill they claimed would protect people with pre-existing conditions if their lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act is successful. But, it was a bill in name only that would not only not provide any real protection, it would also increase insurance premiums on everyone else.

That in and of itself is a major victory that everyone who saw through their charade can be proud in having helped stop.

Progressives and anyone who wants to see our state truly move forward should appreciate the fact that things are changing. Your voice really does make a difference, both at the ballot box and during the legislative process.

But we’re not done yet. The next major election is upon us. It is the election to fill the Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice Shirley Abrahamson. She is truly one of the great jurists in our state’s history and possibly the nation. She will be sorely missed, but in April we will have the chance to elect her successor.

And in 2020 we will have the chance to finally end Republican control of the State Supreme Court.

But, it all starts now. There is no time to waste feeling bad about what happened at 7:00 a.m. Wednesday morning. Instead we should recognize that our voices and efforts can and have made and get to work making Justice Abrahamson proud by making sure her replacement lives up to the high standards she set for the Court.

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Governor Walker’s Foxconn Bait-and-Switch

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 08 September 2018
in Wisconsin

foxconn-groundbreakAs Foxconn pulls the classic bait-and-switch on jobs and commitment to Wisconsin, the people are stuck with a  deal that will cost everyone for 25 more years. Is Walker's big deal turning into just another empty election year promise?


GREEN BAY, WI - Since Governor Walker’s initial announcement of the Foxconn deal he has been promising it will create 13,000 jobs.

But anyone who remembers his promise back in 2010 to create 250,000 jobs during his first term in office knows to take such promises with a large grain of salt.

The same day that Walker made his promise of 13,000 new jobs, Foxconn’s owner Terry Gau would only commit to creating 3,000 jobs and even President Trump said 3,000 jobs would be initially created.

Since that time the Foxconn project has been a moving target with Foxconn officials recently admitting that they now plan to build a much smaller plant less than half the size of the original and one that will require far fewer workers.

That number is likely to become even smaller now that Foxconn admitted what many of us already said would happen: that most of the assembly and production jobs will not be done by people. Foxconn executive Louis Woo admitted as much when he said it’s more likely that Foxconn will only hire 2,000 workers initially and that the majority of the assembly jobs will be done by robots.

dave-hansen-gbThe impact on other state businesses is now a question mark as well since  Foxconn also recently announced they will go to businesses in other states for the parts and materials they need.

The one thing that does seem consistent here, though, is that the people of Wisconsin will be paying off this boondoggle for a good part of their lives.

In fact, even if Foxconn doesn’t hire a single employee, it can still reap up to $1 billion or more in public assistance including: $764 million in local property tax subsidies, $164 million in new state and local roads for Foxconn at the expense of our own local roads and highways, $120 million for a new electric line that will be paid for by utility customers who may have no connection to Foxconn whatsoever, a $139 million sales tax exemption for building materials, and $15 million in state grants to help local governments pay for Foxconn.

It’s been estimated that the Foxconn deal could cost every man, woman and child $500 or more and that taxpayers won’t see their money returned in full until at least 2043 and possibly later.

Governor Walker and Republicans are fond of saying that “you know how to spend your money better than the government does.” Except, of course, when they’re doing favors for their corporate friends. In this case they’ve decided that billions of your and your children’s money is better given to a foreign billionaire than used to feed your family, pay your rent, put toward your health insurance or invest in your local schools and roads.

Given Foxconn’s ever-changing stories, their past history of making big promises only to renege on them, and the Governor’s own issues with the truth, it’s time to call the Foxconn deal what it is, a classic bait-and-switch that is harmful to taxpayers and that will do nothing to help the vast majority of struggling families and communities around the state.

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State of the State Address

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 25 January 2018
in Wisconsin

walkerGov. Walker can spin his record anyway he wants, but is more spin what we really needed?


GREEN BAY - The Governor’s latest series of flip flops on health care, education and the lack of jobs in our rural communities just shows how desperate he is about his chances in the upcoming election.

- Not that long ago he took President Trump’s side in supporting the ability of insurance companies to deny people with preexisting conditions.

- In his first term he inflicted the biggest cut to our public schools in our state’s history—costing many of our schools some of their best teachers and forcing local school districts to beg taxpayers for enough money to keep the lights on.

- And offering $50 million to rural communities in north and western Wisconsin is a pittance compared to the $4 billion he is giving to a Taiwanese billionaire to help create jobs for people living in northern Illinois.

Governor Walker has also failed to keep his promise to create 250,000 jobs.  He has failed to take responsibility for driving our transportation system into the ditch, and he has signed into law some of the most egregious corporate attacks on our environmental protections that will lead to more of our wetlands being lost and more of our lakes, streams and drinking water being polluted.

And, despite his claims to the contrary, Governor Walker has still done absolutely nothing to lower student loan payments for the over 800,000 people in this state who are struggling under the weight of high cost student loans.

Governor Walker can spin his record anyway he wants, but as we have seen around the country and in western Wisconsin, the people want change.  And next fall they will have the ultimate say on whether his speech today was a success.

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Governor’s Call for Special Session on Welfare

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 20 January 2018
in Wisconsin

walkerWalker's call for special session on welfare reform last Thursday was attempt to divert people’s attention from latest Republican failures says Green Bay Senator.


GREEN BAY - Adam Jarchow lost in Tuesday’s senate election in part because he and his Republican friends chose to attack struggling families.

Despite voters’ rejection of these types of attacks, Governor Walker sees them as his opportunity to excite his supporters and shift their attention away from the fact that he, President Trump and Republicans in Madison and Congress have failed to help improve their lives.

Instead of giving a Taiwanese billionaire over $4 billion that will do little to help the vast majority of people in this state, a more informed governor might have decided instead to invest that money into our own families, businesses, schools and roads all across the state.

Now, seeing that his reelection ploy is not working, he is trying to divert the people’s attention by calling a special session to wage new attacks on working families and the poor.

Governor Walker’s call for a special session is another sign that he and legislative Republicans are running scared. It is a transparently political move that is just another reason so many people are voting for real change in Wisconsin and around the country.

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Foxconn Giveaway is Bad for Wisconsin Taxpayers

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Wednesday, 13 September 2017
in Wisconsin

walker-terry-gou-foxconnThe Governor and Republicans were quick to say we can’t afford very minimal investments in Wisconsin residents, but they can’t give away our money fast enough when a billionaire shows up for a hand out.


GREEN BAY - As someone who helped Marinette Marine land the Navy LCS contract that created thousands of new jobs in Northeast Wisconsin and around the state, I am supportive of responsible efforts to create jobs regardless of which party those ideas come from.

Unfortunately, the deal negotiated by Governor Walker and Senate Republicans is short on protections and long on risks to the taxpayers of the 30th Senate District who will be forced to contribute up to $90 million as their share of nearly $3 billion in cash payments to Foxconn, a $100 billion corporation based in Taiwan and China. That’s nearly $500 for every person and $1200 for every family of four in our district.

The Governor and Republicans are quick to say we can’t afford to make very minimal investments to help the nearly 1 million Wisconsin residents refinance their student loans at lower rates or help nearly 1.5 million private workers save for retirement. But no sooner does a billionaire show up with their hand out, they can’t give away our money fast enough.

The Governor used to say that the people know better how to spend their money than the government does. Except when it comes to giving one of the wealthiest people on Earth a few billion dollars of other people’s money. Never mind that $500 or $1200 for a family could go a long way to helping them make ends meet, or help pay for technical college or job training. When it comes to helping average folks or rich billionaires we now know who the Governor and Republicans truly care about.

Make no mistake, this is the largest taxpayer giveaway in U.S. history. And despite the claims of supporters, it comes with very few guarantees that Foxconn will uphold their end of the agreement. In fact, Foxconn thinks so little of the people of our state that they couldn’t even bother to show up at one of the two public hearings on this deal to answer questions, ensure they will be accountable to the taxpayers, or even just say thank you.

P.T. Barnum must be laughing.

***

State Senator Dave Hansen (D - Green Bay) released this statement Tuesday on the passage of the Foxconn deal in the Senate.

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Sen. Hansen on U.S. AG Sessions Green Bay Visit

Posted by Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30
Dave Hansen, State Senator Dist 30 has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 29 August 2017
in Wisconsin

opioid-young-startState Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) is calling on the Wisconsin and U.S. Attorneys General to stand up for taxpayers by holding big drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.


GREEN BAY - When the media has a chance to talk with both the state And United States Attorneys General a good question to ask is whether or not they will stand up for taxpayers by holding big drug companies like Purdue Pharma accountable for their role in the opioid crisis.

Twenty years ago Purdue Pharmaceuticals introduced OxyContin with the promise that it relieved pain for 12 hours—longer than any other similar medication. Purdue promoted the drug as a way to reduce addiction: One pill in the morning and one at night and a person would be pain free without having to take multiple pills during the day and at night.

As a result Purdue made billions and OxyContin became the leading painkiller in America.

But, for all kinds of people the drug didn’t last 12 hours and many found themselves in excruciating pain as the drug wore off. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, Purdue has known about this for decades—even before OxyContin went on the market.

Since 1996 even more evidence came to light from doctors, independent research and from reports of Purdue’s own sales reps. Despite increasing evidence that OxyContin is extremely addictive their response was to recommend prescribing more OxyContin.

Just ten years ago the company pleaded guilty to misleading the public about OxyContin’s risk of addiction and paid out $600 million---one of the largest pharmaceutical settlements in U.S. history. And three of Purdue’s top executives, including its President, pleaded guilty misbranding charges, a criminal violation and agreed to pay a total of $34.5 million in fines.

There is no question that people need to be responsible for the decisions they make. But there is also no question that when billion dollar corporations make decisions that they know are causing harm they should be responsible too.

The vast majority of taxpayers in Wisconsin have played no role in the opioid crisis except to be left with picking up the tab to try to stop it.

Will Attorney General Sessions bring the full weight of the federal government to bear on behalf of taxpayers by making the makers of these dangerously addictive drugs pay their fair share for the programs we need to end this crisis? Will our own attorney general follow the lead of other states and file suit on behalf of Wisconsin taxpayers? Those are questions that should be asked.

****

Legislative writer Jay Wadd contributed this story.

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