Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might
Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
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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.
51st Annual Shamrock Club of Wisconsin St. Patrick's Day Parade
Date: March 11, 2017, at Noon
The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's 51st Annual St Patrickís Day Parade
will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2017, stepping off at noon at 3rd
and Wisconsin and finishing at Water and Highland. Join us for one of
the best St Patrick's Day Parades in the country and the grandest parade
This FREE event will feature 140+ units and includes local politicians
and celebrities, floats, bagpipe and marching bands and Irish and Celtic
For more information on the parade please visit the official parade
15th annual Local Farmer Open House
Date: Saturday March 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Description: Know your farmer. Know your food. This event is your
once-a-year opportunity to talk with local farmers, hear about their
growing practices, and learn about their Community Supported Agriculture
(CSA) subscription options. Sign up to get local deliveries of boxes of
farm-fresh healthful produce and more. Explore the benefits of
convenient Workplace CSA deliveries. Buy lunch, visit the resource
table, or take a workshop.
CLICK HERE to learn more.
Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park
1500 E Park Pl, Milwaukee, WI 53211
Free Tax Assistance
from UWM and AARP
Date: March 11, April 1 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For the 2nd year in a
row UWM and the AARP are partnering on a tax assistance program. Trained
student volunteers from UWM's Beta Alpha Psi accounting organization
will sit down with you and help ensure you get all of the deductions and
claims you deserve. All ages welcome. Walk-ins only.
CLICK HERE to see a flyer with more information.
UWM Cambridge Commons
2323 Cambridge Gateway
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Partners in Fighting Crime: Citywide Block Watch Meeting
Date: Thursday, March 23 from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m
Location: South Milwaukee
This first meeting will go over the fundamentals of the block watch,
take time to answer questions, and listen to concerns. Members will also
take time to determine future meeting times and choose several citizens
to help steer the group.
for more information.
South Milwaukee City Hall
2424 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
A Polish Brunch
Date: Thursday, March 23, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Location: Saint Francis
In Polish households, Easter breakfast was a main event as it
signified the ending of the Lenten fast time. Inspired by the menu of
those breakfasts, this easy brunch comes together very quickly. Join for
this demonstration and enjoy samples of goat cheese and beet toast,
kielbasa skillet and shredded beet and horseradish salad. Presented by
Julie Seidlitz of Julie's Cooking Creations. For adults 18 and older.
limited, so please register in advance for this free program by calling
St. Francis Public
4230 S Nicholson Ave
St Francis, WI 53235
Generation Gallery: Paper Play: Kindergarten to Contemporary Art
-- the gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and
Friday until 8 p.m.
The Milwaukee Art Museum invites families to come and explore the
innovative use of paper by contemporary artists, who use this humble
material in simple ways --folding, weaving, cutting, and stacking -- to
make extraordinary works of art. Families can explore the possibilities
of paper by creating a sculpture, a colorful weaving, and a mysterious
scene in four different activity stations. The Kohlís Art Generation
Gallery brings art and creativity to kids and their families through
family-friendly, hands-on activities.
CLICK HERE to learn more.
Milwaukee Art Museum
700 N. Art Museum Dr.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
Winter is coming to a close, and
spring is just around the corner. The state budget process is also
gearing up and community members, advocates, and legislators are
starting to delve into the details of the over $70 billion spending and
In this week's Larson Report, we will
discuss some of the provisions included in the budget and what the next
steps of the process are.
State Senator, District 7
It's been a little over a month
since the governor unveiled his 2017-2019 state budget proposal. Like
many across Wisconsin, my initial reaction to Walker's third state
budget was focused more on what was left out than what it contained.
Here are a couple of main
1.) This budget does not
make up for the previous cuts Walker made to education and
elsewhere, which have directly impacted our neighbors.
2.) The governor is
using this budget to prop up his low approval rating in advance of
an upcoming election.
It has been far too long since we
had a governor and a budget that looked at building more than just
political points for rich special interests. Wisconsin needs a long-term
vision in our budget to ensure that educators, parents, and children can
plan for education on a long-term basis. We need a comprehensive plan
for building our workforce and must stop giving away hundreds of
millions in tax breaks to companies that aren't required to create or
keep jobs in Wisconsin. We also need to invest and grow our state by
helping those struggling the most, not by giving away more handouts to
those lucky enough to be politically connected to the governor.
Keep reading for other big changes
in the governor's proposed budget that may be of interest to you.
Slashing Access to Local Healthy
This past week, families, schools, and students celebrated National
School Breakfast Week. This event serves as a reminder that school
breakfast provides a crucial, healthy, and energizing start to the day
Ensuring access for kids to healthy
foods should be a shared Wisconsin value. In fact, eight years ago,
Wisconsin pioneered a program that brings in locally grown food to
public schools through creating a statewide farm-to-school program
coordinator. After notable success within the program, Governor Scott
Walker is proposing to get rid of the coordinator position for the very
program that has been described as a "gold standard" and a "national
Not only is this program incredibly beneficial to our children through
the advancement of a healthy lifestyle and a more diverse education, but
it also assists farmers and boosts our local economies.
The statewide farm-to-school program focuses on three main areas:
- Getting locally grown and
produced food into school meals
- Creating school gardens
- Promoting agricultural
According to Sarah Elliott, the
former Wisconsin farm-to- school program coordinator, in her two years
as the coordinator, she was able to invest $1.4 million in federal
school lunch funding to local farmers. On top of the assistance the
program provides for our farming neighbors, as a result of the
recognized success of Wisconsin's program, we were able to bring the
national farm-to-school conference to Madison last year, ultimately
bringing in an additional $1 million into the local economy.
This is yet another unacceptable
example of Governor Scott Walker blindly eliminating funding and
decimating programs no matter the consequences it may have on our
children, our workers, and our local economies. We need to continue this
successful program, and the state Legislature needs to roll back
Walker's attack on this.
Politicizing the Parole
Commission There are around
2,800 inmates currently being held in Wisconsin's prisons who are
individuals were sentenced prior to Wisconsin's "Truth In Sentencing"
law, which is one of the most stringent of its kind in the country.
Under the law, individuals are required to serve 100% of their sentence
and its imposition can be for any offense.
Under "old law" sentencing
practices, judges imposed longer sentences believing the inmate would
subsequently be paroled. However, the number of inmates released on
parole has decreased dramatically in recent years, from 1,146 in
2005 to 132 in 2012.
Under Walker, parole-eligible
inmates are already being repeatedly denied the opportunity to become
productive members of their communities.
Click here to read personal stories from inmates who are eligible
for parole, many of whom committed crimes when they were in their
teens or young 20s.
This adds a hefty cost to Wisconsin
taxpayers as well. It costs $96 million each and every year to keep
these individuals behind bars -- individuals who, because of their
length of time served and accomplishments, work, and good behavior while
incarcerated, could be back in their communities.
Instead of fixing our current parole system, the governor is instead
attempting to irresponsibly politicize it. In his budget, Walker
abolishes the Parole Commission, handing over the decision about whether
the thousands of eligible individuals are able to be released to one
single person who he would appoint. This proposal opens the door to an
unfair, politically motivated system not seen in any other state. As
noted by Cecelia Klingele, an assistant law professor at UW-Madison, no
inmate is "entitled" to parole, but "they do have a legal right to fair
assessment of their case."
For more on this issue, see this comprehensive article from
Pulling the Teeth of Government
In addition to stripping funding away from a popular local school
food programs and politicizing the parole commission, Governor Walker
also makes several moves to eliminate or reduce oversight boards,
- Independent judicial
reviews -- the governor's budget gets rid of independent
judicial ethics enforcement process, handing over control of the
Judicial Commission to the heavily partisan Supreme Court. Doing so
gives justices the power to strip the commission of funding or
staff. This creates a conflict of interest as the commission will
not be able to fully investigate allegations against members of the
Supreme Court for fear of retaliation. A similar proposal was
introduced and rejected in the last Walker budget and drew strong
Click here to read an editorial in the Journal Times
regarding this issue.
- For-profit college
oversight -- under Walker's budget, a state board charged
with approving and overseeing for-profit colleges is eliminated.
While the oversight responsibility is shifted to the Department of
Safety and Professional Services, eliminating the Education Approval
Board (EAB) itself a structure that incorporates individuals with
expertise in the field. It also goes against the precedent being set
nationally, where states are recognizing the need to protect
students by increasing the scrutiny these schools are subject to.
Notably, the EAB receives no public funding, and actually
contributes 10% of the money it collects from colleges to the
state's general fund,
according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
disputes -- Walker also eliminates the independent Labor and
Industry Review Commission (LIRC). Created in the 1970s, the role of
LIRC is to provide a fair and impartial review of unemployment,
worker's compensation, and equal rights decisions. Now, Walker is
attempting to politicize this process by handing over its
responsibilities to division heads within the Department of
Workforce Development (DWD). This is problematic because on a number
of occasions LIRC has overturned initial determinations made by the
Department. In fact, I've heard from some of you who have run into
issues with unemployment determinations made by DWD. In one
case, DWD alleged that one of our neighbors in Oak Creek was
concealing wages, even though after the error was realized their
additional work hours were submitted. It was LIRC that later found
that this person had made a good faith effort to correct the error
and should not be penalized. This is not an isolated story, and
politicizing LIRC will only make remediation of such issues
virtually impossible, at a cost to our neighbors who are already
just scraping by.
For more on this, issue, read this Unemployment Insurance Blog post.
You can also read this article in the Isthmus for more on the
anti-worker changes made to our unemployment system since Walker
Tuned: Education and Transportation
The budget is a complex document that will continue to be discussed
in great detail. This week, we've discussed several provisions that seek
to politicize and reduce accountability and transparency in state
government. Stay tuned for a future newsletter that will talk in
more details about education and transportation in the budget. Until
then, below you will find a brief summary.
Wisconsin Schools Still Waiting for Fair Investment
After years of intentional and harmful underfunding, our
neighborhood schools continue to suffer under Walker and legislative
Republicans. In his budget, Walker has attempted to shift the focus away
from his historic cuts in order to boost his approval ratings, but
Wisconsinites aren't buying it. Our children deserve to have schools
that are able to fully address their needs. Walker and legislative
Republicans have failed in this task and have instead focused on
shifting more tax dollars to private unaccountable voucher schools. As
the budget process continues, public education advocates should be wary
of the intentions of the Joint Finance Committee and continue to put
pressure on GOP members to fully fund our children's public education.
Continues Transportation Mismanagement
It is no secret that under Governor Walker, the transportation
budget has been woefully underfunded and mismanaged. Wisconsin is
spending billions on mega-projects pushed by Walker's campaign
contributors as our municipal and county roads fall deeper into
disrepair; costing our neighbors' thousands in car repairs. In his
proposed budget Walker continues to push these large expansion projects
over our local infrastructure and has shifted the cost onto the next
generation. Additionally, those projects closest to Milwaukee County are
continuing to be delayed, keeping congestion and costs up. Further,
under Walker's new budget, our neighbors would be paying a quarter of
every dollar just to cover debt his budget fails to address. This
Budget Process Refresher
On February 8, 2017,
Governor Walker's 2017-2019 state budget was introduced as Senate Bill
(SB) 30, and then was referred to the Legislature's Joint Finance
Committee (JFC). This is just the first step in the budget process.
After the budget bill is formally introduced, the 16 JFC members gather
information from state agencies, advocacy groups, and neighbors across
Wisconsin. Typically in March or April, JFC will travel across the state
so that members of the public can weigh in on the state budget proposal.
This is an important opportunity for our neighbors to have their voices
heard, which will be discussed in more detail in the "Take Action"
After gathering information, the committee will then make changes to the
state budget by adopting amendments. This typically occurs from around
April to June. Once the bill has been adapted by JFC, it is delivered to
the Senate and Assembly to take up on the floor for a final vote. The
final step is for the governor to accept or veto portions of the final
bill before signing it into law.
Click here to read a blog by the Wisconsin Budget Project for more
information about the budget process.
week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth
information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison
and in our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most
pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are
some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
Involved in Public Safety Threat
As discussed in the last Larson
Report newsletter, alarming allegations have come to light regarding
a barrel reconditioning company that operates in our community,
called Mid-America Steel Drum Company.
Last week, Rep. Sinicki and I hosted an informational session about
these concerns to learn more from our neighbors about their
observations and experiences. In addition, I held a listening
session earlier this week in Oak Creek. I appreciate all of the
neighbors that showed up to share your stories and concerns.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently did a follow-up
article that discusses the call for immediate action by Sen. Baldwin
and Rep. Moore at the federal level and Sen. Taylor, Rep. Sinicki,
Rep. Bowen, and me at the state level.
You can read this follow-up article, here.
New Mayor in Oak
Daniel Bukiewicz who was recently appointed as the newest mayor of
Oak Creek last Tuesday night.
Mayor Bukiewicz served as alderman of the 2nd District on the Oak
Creek Common Council since 2010. As of yesterday morning, he will
serve as mayor of Oak Creek until the April 2018 election, filling
the vacancy left by former Mayor Steve Scaffidi.
I would like to wish Mayor Bukiewicz the best of luck and thank him
for his willingness to step up and serve the people of Oak Creek. I
look forward to working with him to make our community a great place
to live, work, and raise a family.
For more information about Mayor Bukiewicz, and how to contact him,
Don't Leave Your Money on the Table!
The Earned Income
Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit are two refundable tax
credits that often go unclaimed by those who are eligible.
The EITC is a tax credit that is available for low-to-moderate
income individuals and families. The Child Tax credit is available
to individuals with children, who meet a certain income threshold,
qualifying them for tax reductions.
Based on the IRS estimates that 15-20% of eligible individuals don't
apply for these tax refunds, our Milwaukee County neighbors, stand
to miss out on $97 million in tax credits every year.
While the EITC and Child Tax Credit are beneficial for working
families, it also helps the growth of our own economy -- when
families have extra money in their pockets, they are able to make
purchases at local businesses.
We must ensure that money is not being left on the table, but rather
going back into the hands of the hardworking individuals in our
If you need help finding free tax prep sites in your neighborhood,
State of the City -- Milwaukee
This week, in his "State of the City" address, Mayor Tom Barrett
spoke about the renaissance Milwaukee is seeing through the
investments being made by our diverse and industrious community.
Contrary to the false narrative often spun by Governor Walker and
legislative Republicans, Milwaukee has been -- and continues to be
-- our state's economic and cultural engine.
The wheels of progress continue to turn as the city partners with
churches, industry, and community organizations to develop
innovative ideas and programs to improve our lives.
Under Walker, however, that progress is threatened. At the state
level, Governor Walker and Republicans on the Joint Finance
Committee have tied the hands of city government by diverting over
$460 million in tax revenues generated in the city of Milwaukee to
outside projects and programs.
To accelerate growth and address the serious issues facing our
neighbors, the state must return a more equitable share of tax
revenue back to our city for reinvestment in our area.
Click here to see the mayor's
full speech, here.
Last week, millions of
school children celebrate reading while participating in Read Across
Established in 1998 by the National Educators Association, Read
Across America is designed to get kids excited about reading.
Read Across America Day is held every year on March 2, the birthday
of the American children's author Dr. Seuss, who wrote over 40
children's books, including multiple best-sellers; most of which are
still read by children and adults all over the world.
Read more about Read Across America, here.
Warm Winters and Climate Change
Have you been enjoying the
unseasonably warm temperatures over the last couple of weeks?
A recent article in The Atlantic poses to its readers: should
we enjoy the warm temperatures over the winter at a time when the
damages of climate change are spreading throughout our local and
Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University,
gave some of her insight. She stated that warm days might prepare
people to notice other shifts in the weather. "As it gets warmer,
the negative impacts outweigh the positive impacts," she said. "This
will first look like hotter summers, pests moving northward, and our
air-conditioning and water bill going up. Having these unusual days
that we really notice, it makes us more aware of how other things
are changing, too."
I'd like to hear your thoughts. Does our warm February give you
pause to consider the growing dangers of climate change?
the referenced The Atlantic article, here.