August 27, 2007

Milwaukee on the Move

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Three weeks ago I had the opportunity to be a member of the conference committee that is negotiating a compromise on the State Budget.  I spoke about the importance of giving Milwaukee the resources it needs to grow and thrive.  Sadly, my Republican colleagues spent the day bashing our city, our schools, and our community.  They refused even to discuss additional funding for safety, and on several occasions false date to support their neglect.

Its time to set the record straight: Milwaukee is moving forward, and has seen remarkable progress in recent years. 

Our graduation rate has risen over 16 percent in the last 7 years, and is expected to jump another 4 percent in the next two years.  Added to that, we narrowed the achievement gap in 10 out of 14 grade assessments in reading and math last year.  There has also been an increase in student attendance in each of the last 6 years.  More kids are going to school, more kids are succeeding in school, and more kids are graduating from school.  Now that’s progress!

Our Streets are safer too.  Community policing initiatives have reduced overall homicide rates, and last year nonfatal shootings dropped by over 22 percent.  Yet for some reason the Republicans wanted to cut police officers and policing programs.  Their cuts would also have affected our nationally recognized EMS service, which ranks 3rd in the U.S.  In fact, the $28 Million cut to Milwaukee’s budget would have meant further reductions in fire and police services, waste collection, and many other services we have come to rely on.  

Our business community has a lot to be proud of too.  Milwaukee is the economic engine that drives the state.  76 percent of all manufacturing goods pass through our city, creating a gross metropolitan product of over $57 Billion!  That is as much money as the entire state generates in tax dollars each year.  That number has grown due in large part to the nearly 10,000 new jobs created in the last 4 years.  Milwaukee can now boast of being the number 10 destination in the U.S. for young talent.

As you can clearly see, Milwaukee is moving forward. While we face many challenges, we have a lot to be proud of.  Now is not the time for the cut and run politics of the Republicans.  Now is the time to continue our investment and help Milwaukee move forward.  In the words of Governor Jim Doyle, as Milwaukee goes, so goes Wisconsin.