January 25, 2012

Milwaukee Courier

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

By Sen. Lena C. Taylor

On Tuesday morning, I started my day by reading a rather disheartening headline in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Employment of black men drops drastically.” Based on a report from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 57 percent of working age black males in Milwaukee are unemployed. Only Detroit and Buffalo have higher unemployment rates.

The report primarily attributed the decline to manufacturers’ en masse departure from Milwaukee. I am going to take the report’s analysis a step further. This trend is not merely a result of a decline in manufacturing, but also a lack of response from elected officials. Wisconsin has been losing jobs for the last six months; that fact, coupled with the disturbing figures in the UWM report, speaks volumes. So as I sat on the Senate floor during session, thinking about the report in the Journal-Sentinel and listening to the bills being discussed and voted on, I became angry.

Republicans have been in the majority for a year and nothing has been done to create jobs. In fact, they have introduced bills that do everything but create jobs. Tax giveaways to big business, policies that favor corporate interests and bills that will advance their social agenda have filled the Senate calendar for the last year. None of them created anything remotely resembling job opportunities. Governor Walker and his GOP colleagues can continue repeating the “It’s working” mantra, but the proof is in the pudding (in this case, the pudding is the statistics coming from the Bureau of Labor regarding unemployment rates). The pudding is saying that the policies of Scott Walker and the legislative Republicans are NOT working.

As the floor session was coming to an end, I called upon my colleagues in the majority to stop the games: stop delaying the bills that will work to create jobs and stop placing the interests of corporations over the interests of the people. A person’s ability to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their family is not a pawn to be moved and manipulated to achieve a checkmate.

So to my fellow legislators, I say this: let’s get Wisconsin working.