October 15, 2007

Enough Partisan Tantrums!

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

After months of waiting on a budget, we might finally have some progress.  This week the Senate Democrats and Governor Doyle stepped up and proposed a budget that represents a genuine compromise.  Certainly, there are portions of this compromise that I’m disappointed about – especially the cuts to courts and shared revenue for our city.  However, I recognize the reality that someone has to be the adult here and do what's best for the taxpayers of Wisconsin.

The compromise budget includes millions of new dollars for Milwaukee Public Schools, community safety initiatives, and important health care reforms.  That means smaller class sizes, more police officers on our streets, and guaranteed health care coverage for all children in Wisconsin.  The budget also contains increases to foster care payments and treatment and diversion programs that will help reduce crime and recidivism in our communities.

For the past eight months, my colleagues and I have been fighting tooth and nail for the vital funding that our community needs.  We were able to deliver over 97% of the Governor’s Milwaukee Package from the Joint Finance Committee and the State Senate.  I’m very happy to say that most of these provisions found their way into the compromise version of this budget.

The reality of compromise is that nobody gets everything they want.  What we can’t do, though, is let that stop us from doing what is right for the people of Wisconsin.  Without a budget, property taxes in this state will skyrocket and our kids will continue to wait in line to get their financial aid.  Those outcomes are absolutely unacceptable. 

The time for partisan bickering is over.  The Governor and the Senate Democrats have done everything we can during this process, repeatedly offering concessions to help our state get to a final deal.  We’re committed to reaching that agreement, in spite of all the obstacles that have come up. 

If our attitude had prevailed throughout the whole legislature, our state might have a budget in place.  But it hasn’t, and we don’t.  Every time an agreement seems to be within reach, the demands get changed.  Enough is enough.  We reached the time for action long ago.

The compromise budget was taken up on Monday in a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature.  In spite of our reservations, my Democratic colleagues and I supported the bill.  We didn’t support it because it had everything we wanted.  We didn’t support it because it was a pro-Democrat budget.  We supported it because doing so was the right thing for our state and its citizens.  Progress takes sacrifice.  In that spirit of compromise and cooperation, let’s move forward in tackling the issues that affect us all in our great state.  Frankly, that was our job all along.