LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER

 

July 14, 2016

     

 

CONTACT ME


Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

 

Website:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.

 

 

Bastille Days
Date: Thursday, July 14 at 11 a.m. through Sunday, July 17 at 9 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Milwaukee's popular French festival, and one of the nation's largest French-themed celebrations, returns to the downtown area. The free, 4-day bash attracts over 250,000 visitors who can enjoy live music, an international marketplace, chef and wine demos, French and Cajun cuisine, a 5k run, and a signature 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica offering hourly light shows.  CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Cathedral Square Park (MAP)
520 E. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

 

Dog Day at Drexel
Date: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Dog Day at Drexel features pier pups, a unique dock diving venue that caters to dogs, dog-related vendors ,and businesses, door prizes and more. CLICK HERE for more information.

Drexel Town Square
(MAP)
West Town Square Way Oak Creek, WI 53154

 

South Shore Frolics Festival of Arts

Date: July 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Location: Bay View

Description: 2016 marks the twelfth year that the Bay View Arts Guild has managed the South Shore Frolics Festival of Arts as a high quality fine arts and crafts show. Over 70 carefully selected artists offer a wonderful experience for art fair patrons on Milwaukee's lakefront in beautiful South Shore Park. Visitors will find decorative and functional art in a variety of styles and media. Discover new artists and returning favorites, from throughout Wisconsin and beyond. Be prepared to stroll, shop, schmooze and enjoy an outstanding art fair experience! CLICK HERE for additional information.

 

South Shore Park (MAP)

2900 S Shore Dr.

Bay View, 53207

 

History of Milwaukee by Canoe
Date: Sunday, July 17, 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Look at the city's history from a different perspective as you explore the ecological issues facing the river. Registration is required at least 24 hours before the program start time. CLICK HERE for more information.

Milwaukee Rowing Club Boathouse
(MAP)
1990 N Commerce St

Milwaukee, WI 53212


 

Festa Italiana
Date: Friday, July 22 through Sunday, July 24
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Attend Milwaukee's longest-running lakefront ethnic festival. This event boasts Italian cuisine, a parade, a cinema tent, gondola rides, concerts, traditional dancers, and Sunday mass followed by a procession and fireworks. Admission is $10 in advance or $13 at the gate. CLICK HERE for more information.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

South Milwaukee Heritage Days
Date: Monday, July 25 to Saturday, July 30
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Attend South Milwaukee's annual week-long community festival that features fun events for the entire family. Neighbors can enjoy great food, outdoor activities, concerts and even a parade. See the list of events for the week and their locations by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Milwaukee Brewfest
Date:
July 30 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Enjoy beers from around the world at the second annual Milwaukee Brewfest on the city's lakefront. Milwaukee Brewfest features unlimited sampling of over 150 craft beers and micro brews from around the world, plus live musical performances, exhibits, home brewing demonstrations, and games. A variety of foods for purchase from local restaurants and vendors will also be available. CLICK HERE for more information, including ticket prices.

 


Film on the Hill -- Ferris Bueller's Day
Off (PG-13)
Date: Saturday, July 30 (film will begin shortly after sunset).
Location: Bay View
Description: Enjoy a family–friendly movie in Humboldt Park. Ferris Bueller's Day Off will be the first of three movies played at Humboldt Park this summer followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Grease. This event is sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood Association. The film will be played at the bandshell at Humboldt Park.
For more information, CLICK HERE.


Humboldt Park

(MAP)

3000 S Howell Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207



 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
I hope your summer is going well!

Last week we talked about our shared waters and the rising danger to them. If you shared with me what our waters mean to you or your family, thank you! From the emails, letters, and calls it is clear that the quality of our waters is something we all value and want to safeguard. Also, special thanks to those who sent water related photos and observations. I hope to share them when fighting to protect our waters.

To my family, like many of our neighbors, summer traffic and road trips are a painful reminder that Wisconsin streets and road ways are in terrible shape. This newsletter we explore the choices and causes that have lead our local roads and arterial highways to dangerous disrepair, all while we dump millions of tax dollars into massive projects.

 

This summer when you see a dangerous pothole or crumbling neighborhood street, feel free to send me a photo of it at Sen.Larson@Legis.WI.Gov.
 

In Service,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Wisconsin Must Fix Local Roads First

Wisconsin is a beautiful state, especially in the summertime. Many of us take this as an opportunity to take trips and visit the many wonderful sites around the state. Unfortunately, as we set out on our adventures we see firsthand the discrepancies and poor condition of our neighborhood streets are similar to community streets across Wisconsin. In fact, a majority of Wisconsin's local and county roads have been falling in such disrepair that we have been ranked among the nation's worst states in regards to road surfaces and infrastructure.

Simply put, it doesn't have to be this way. The quality of our local roads is an intentional choice, made by years of poor decisions and misplaced priorities by Governor Walker and legislative Republicans.

Local Roads Not Receiving their Fair Share
Over the years, our local elected officials have called out the governor's caving to the wills of special interests. In the last two budget cycles, we have seen funds being directed to massive highway construction and expansion projects, while the need to rebuild and maintain our local road infrastructure has intentionally been ignored.

The everyday Wisconsinite has also been vocal about this problem, growing increasingly tired of bumpy commutes. Open any local newspaper across the state, and I'm sure you'll find a Letter to the Editor that talks about the potholes, crumbling curbs, and bad bridges that can be found in every corner of the state. Take Dave from Fitchburg for example, he recently wrote, "Repairing and replacing worn roads, bridges, and infrastructure is an investment for all our citizens."

View Dave's full Letter to the Editor, here.

Sadly, our local roads are not receiving their fair share of transportation investments. While 90% of our roads are local, neighborhood streets and carry 40% of statewide traffic, they only receive around a mere quarter of our state's transportation appropriations. In contrast, our state throws nearly 65% of our transportation funding on building and expanding major highways. We must prioritize our investments fairly by adopting a "Fix it First" model, which would reallocate funds in a multi-year, multi budget cycle, utilizing the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) to focus on fixing our deteriorating neighborhood streets and bridges.

As of right now, LRIP is desperately underfunded to address our local needs. Prioritizing our investments would better utilize the LRIP program, but also allow local governments additional opportunities to apply for federal grants, which typically require matching dollars that many of our local governments simply cannot afford without a little help.

Local communities have pleaded with the state Department of Transportation and the Walker Administration for years, urging them to focus their attention on desperate local infrastructure needs and investing in the LRIP program. They have been ignored budget after budget, and a crisis that was once just around the corner, is now right in front of us.

This crisis is getting noticed. The Road Information Program (TRIP), a national transportation research group, found that over 40% of Wisconsin's major state and local roads are in mediocre to poor condition -- that number stands at 56% in Milwaukee. Even the conservative-leaning Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance gave our roads a "D," -- their lowest grade -- on their 2015 report card.

Misplaced Priorities Costing Us All More
The intentional underinvestment in local roads translates to a very serious cost for drivers. For those in the Milwaukee area, TRIP cites the average extra vehicle operation costs due to poor road conditions at a staggering $2,060 per year. What opportunities could you provide your family if you had an extra $2,000 per year?

Read more about the TRIP report, here.

We all deserve to be safe on our roads during our day-to-day commutes and while driving our children to school. Additionally, our economy depends on having strong infrastructure. Local companies like Kwik Trip have had to implement shorter intervals between maintenance on their vehicles due to road problems. This crisis is one that can no longer be ignored.

Governor Taking Wisconsin in the Wrong Direction
When it comes to investing our scarce public resources responsibly, the current administration misses the mark and taxpayers are left wondering where their hard-earned money is going. Over the governor's tenure, responsible, priority-based budget decisions have been dangerously neglected in order to advance a personal political agenda. From rejecting millions of dollars in federal resources to caving to the wills of campaign contributors, our neighbors have suffered from his misplaced, misguided decisions; and our transportation infrastructure is now bearing the brunt of these poor choices.

Despite his low approval ratings, it appears the governor still clueless to the irresponsible transportation budgeting problems he created. Rather than fixing our local roads as a priority, Walker sent a letter to his Department of Transportation secretary, telling him not to ask for any new money in his budget request for the anticipated 2017-19 state budget. 

While most legislators understand that Wisconsin cannot keep throwing more money into a budget black hole, we need to address the problems with how we prioritize transportation spending, rather than simply cut funding for projects already in the works. Further, Wisconsin must recognize the changing trends in how people are getting to their destinations and use our resources wisely in a way that will carry us to the future rather than taking us to a costly dead end.

Making our Streets Complete
The "Fix it First" approach would not only prioritize fixing local roads and bridges over large expansion projects, it would also include efforts to provide safe alternative travel opportunities.

According to the Wisconsin Urban and Rural Transit Association, both American Baby Boomers as well as Millennials are driving less, but still opting to live an active lifestyle. As such, the demand for safe transportation alternatives, like bike lanes, is skyrocketing.

Complete Streets is a nationwide program that strives to encourage the investment of alternative transportation options, such as making traveling more accessible for walkers and bikers.

The program encourages the construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, medians, and bike lanes during the early stages of road development to promote healthy lifestyles and environmentally conscious travel.

While people across the nation are increasingly using alternative forms of transportation, the Complete Streets program was financially crippled in the last state budget. The program provides a positive community impact, safety for travelers, and economic benefits. In fact, Complete Streets communities see fewer accidents and a stronger economy. Data shows that having Complete Streets leads to the start of new businesses, more employment opportunities, and a higher number of consumers due to the increase in foot traffic. This bolsters the local economy, as our neighbors have more money in their pockets after their cost of transportation is cut due to the safe flexibility to walk or bike.

Studies have also found that Millennials are leaving Wisconsin after graduation and moving to cities where non-motorized transportation is accessible. Places like Austin, Texas and Portland, Oregon are popular destinations in part due to their strong biking community. Wisconsin's economy cannot thrive with the continued loss of skilled, young workers.

Another devastating item included in the last state budget is a $2 million cut to the Transportation Alternative Program (TAP). Investments in transportation improvement projects are made possible through TAP with the help of federal funds. TAP is smart investment, as it expands travel choice, strengthens our local economy, improves quality of life, and protects our shared, public lands. Cutting this investment will result in fewer pro-bike projects, some of which seek to create more safe ways for children to get to their schools.

Many people live in areas where they are able to walk or bike to get to their destinations, but choose to drive instead due to fears of accidents. Complete Streets eliminates this uncertainty by providing safe travel to pedestrians in the form of several different amenities. We must stand for a safe, healthy, and prosperous Wisconsin for all of our neighbors.

I will continue to push for bolstering the idea of Complete Streets and investing in TAP as well as oppose the damaging funding practices of those in control of the Legislature. I hope that you will continue to raise awareness of these issues so that, together, we can push for real change.
 

 

Ask Chris

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.


Q: Why has Wisconsin continued to experience large budget deficits, even as the governor has slashed essential services?

A:
Though our state has seen destructive budget cuts in a variety of traditionally valued areas, we still seem to be unable to balance our budget -- let alone create a surplus. One factor that comes into play is the reckless missed opportunities that have been thrown away by the governor and legislative Republicans.

 

Since taking office, Governor Walker has been unwilling to take federal money for a variety of initiatives. These intentional snubs have resulted in a substantial loss of revenue.

The governor has outright refused to accept funding to assist in initiating high speed rail to connect Milwaukee to Chicago and Minneapolis. He has rejected expanding health care coverage, causing Wisconsin to lose out on hundreds of millions in federal revenue. These funds would have helped to improve our economy and provide basic services to our neighbors.

Aside from the millions of lost revenue from jobs that would have been created through the construction and maintenance of projects such as high speed rail, our governor has intentionally increased the price tag of existing programs by not utilizing funding opportunities that other states have taken advantage of.

Two examples of this is the failure to expand Medicaid and broadband internet. Under the Affordable Care Act Wisconsin was offered reimbursement for the expansion of the state's BadgerCare program. This continued refusal to take the federal opportunities available to help expand health care programs, is projected to cost Wisconsin taxpayers $345 million in the next budget cycle. This is money that could instead be saved and put into other prioritizing other investments, like our roads and bridges.

Not only is rejecting federal Medicaid money irresponsible for our budget, it is also causing our state to start to lose its spot of having one of the lowest rates of uninsured children. Read this Wisconsin State Journal article for more.

The Walker administration also returned a $23 million federal grant that would have been used to expand broadband capabilities in rural Wisconsin. Disturbingly, he then turned around and spent $1.5 million in state funds to do less.

 

The political opportunistic priorities of our governor have been clear over the past years and he has betrayed the hardworking people of Wisconsin in an attempt to gain popularity with his own national party. Hopefully, as his national ambitions have been rejected, we can start to regain control over our budget disaster and start to get to work on initiatives that will move Wisconsin forward.


 

Neighborhood Survey

I want to hear from you! Therefore, I created a 2016-2017 Neighborhood Survey asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. Your input is greatly appreciated and will help me prepare for session to resume in the coming months.

My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door-to-door as possible during the next couple months. Additionally, I have also made this survey available online.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.

Click here to take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues! As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about any state or community matters important to you
 

 

To Subscribe to the weekly Larson Report, CLICK HERE.

To Unsubscribe from the weekly Larson Report Newsletter, please reply to this email with the word "Unsubscribe."