decades, we've been subject to an increasingly unfair and overpriced
health care system. Insurance companies have offered more hollow,
overpriced plans and our neighbors have been summarily denied coverage
when they need it most. Not only should our neighbors be able to go to
the doctor when they need to, but they should be able to afford the care
they receive. Likewise, we cannot allow for our family, friends, and
neighbors to lose the security of knowing their coverage won't be capped
when they have cancer or another serious illness.
Recently, a new
Marquette Law School poll was released. The results were telling and
gave us clear insight where Wisconsinites think we should be heading,
According to the poll results, the number of Wisconsin voters who want
to keep and improve the Affordable Care Act was twice as high as the
number who want the law stripped away. Similarly, our neighbors voiced
their strong opposition to the health care scheme passed by the House
Republicans. The results are in, and they are common sense: our friends
and family want more health care and financial security, not less.
Unfortunately, over and over our neighbors have been betrayed and
ignored by Walker and Trump Republicans who are on the wrong side of
this issue. Their failure and betrayal comes with a large price tag.
For instance, when Walker decided to play politics with the health of
our neighbors by rejecting the opportunity to strengthen BadgerCare, it
not only resulted in less of our neighbors having access to affordable
coverage, but his scheme is also projected to
cost us $678.6 million by the end of the year.
To make matters worse, in both the House and Senate bills, states that
rejected the opportunity to expand our Medicaid program, like Wisconsin,
stand to lose billions of our dollars to other states. According to a
report by the Missouri Hospital Association, Wisconsin would lose $37
billion by 2025 under the Republican House scheme.
Learn more about this loss of federal resources under the federal bill,
While the new Marquette poll gives us a new perspective on our
neighbors' disapproval of recent federal actions, we've known of the
overwhelming public support for strengthening our state's BadgerCare
program for years. A poll in March showed a majority of Wisconsin voters
want our federal elected officials to keep the ACA. In November 2014,
voters in 20 municipalities across the state asked Walker and state
Republicans to accept the federal opportunity to expand BadgerCare.
Democrats are Listening to our
Neighbors and Sticking to our Shared Values
Wisconsin Democrats have not forgotten our traditional, shared value of
taking care of our neighbors. Ensuring coverage for all Wisconsinites by
working collaboratively and innovatively is the Wisconsin Way. For these
reasons, I was proud to co-sponsor the BadgerCare for All Act and
announce details of the plan at a
press conference last week.
is inherent upon leaders to put forward ideas that reflect our values
and makes sure people are viewed as our neighbors and not dollar signs.
Whereas national Republicans are creating uncertainty around health care
access and coverage, Democrats are putting forward bold ideas to ensure
health care security for our neighbors. The BadgerCare for All proposal
would create a 'public option' for Wisconsinites by allowing people of
any income level to purchase BadgerCare coverage.
Specifically, the proposal (LRB
3785) requires the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to
request a waiver from the federal government to allow individuals and
small businesses to purchase BadgerCare coverage on the health insurance
exchange. The bill also requires the Department to request that
individuals receiving health insurance through a BadgerCare buy-in
program have access to the same premium supports that are available to
those who purchase private insurance on the exchange.
This plan would open the door to
more high-quality, affordable health care options. It would also help
Wisconsin's robust self-employed population, from the rural farmer to
the freelance photographer, to Alex Galt of Green Bay who co-owns
Kavarna Coffeehouse. Alex wrote to the newspaper after the bill was
announced to tell his story and why this bill would be critical for his
family. Alex noted that having a BadgerCare for All option would
"provide a basic level of security for me and my family."
Read more about Alex's story, here.
Providing Health Care Security, While Reducing Costs
Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a BadgerCare public option would save
our neighbors an average of over 15% compared to existing health
insurance options in Dane County and an average of 30% compared to the
lowest cost silver plan statewide.
The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that a BadgerCare
"buy-in" model like the one proposed under the BadgerCare for All bill
would cost adults $7,224 per year. In contrast, the lowest cost silver
plan in Dane County available on the Marketplace would cost a
40-year-old applicant $8,350 per year in premiums and deductibles. That
is 15% higher, or $1,117 more, than BadgerCare. Statewide that same
private insurance plan would be on average 30% more, or $2,162 more per
person per year than the BadgerCare public option.
is a popular, successful, and cost-effective program that allows the
state to use its buying power to negotiate lower prescription drug
prices and services. This means lower out-of-pocket costs and premiums.
Further, creating this public option for BadgerCare would not come at an
additional cost to the state. More quality, affordable health care
choices for our families is a win-win for Wisconsin.
We are living in uncertain times, particularly when it comes to health
care security. I know many of us are worried about being one of the 22
million people projected to have their health care taken away by federal
Republicans. Health care security is about more than just having
coverage; it's about having coverage that is affordable and protecting
families against the discriminatory practices of big insurance
corporations. The BadgerCare for All bill is one step towards a
proactive approach to protecting the economic and health security of our
neighbors, children, and families. Read on for more on how you can help
us move this important proposal forward.
week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth
information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison
and 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:
- GOP Two Weeks Tardy on
Passing State Budget
Under Wisconsin law, we do budgets that run for every two years, and
it must be enacted by July 1 in odd-numbered years. If you're
looking at a calendar, you'll likely notice this means the
Republican majority is already two weeks tardy in getting its budget
This failure to lead has a cascading effect across the state. Right
now, local communities and school districts are stuck, waiting to
find out how much state aid they'll be allowed to receive and what
might be cut so they can balance their own budgets. In particular,
it's difficult for each of our local schools to forecast their
budget for the upcoming school year, which will determine how many
teachers they can afford to keep on.
After years of 'invite only' town halls and governing, Republicans
are at an impasse. It turns out; they're unable to get to a budget
that satisfies all the special interests that are clamoring for
their piece of a $76 billion pie (the most spending of any budget in
state history). The biggest topic is how much more transportation
debt to pile on as they kick the can down our crumbling, pothole
Our neighbors deserve to have a budget that works for them, not one
that just caters to the big-money special interest groups that have
stacked the deck in their favor.
Democrats, meanwhile, have put forward several ideas to ensure our
budget is balanced and supports Wisconsin working families by
leveling the playing field, restoring the much-needed funds that
have been slashed from our kids' schools the last few years, and by
creating common sense paths to economic security.
For our kids, for our future, and for Wisconsin, we can and must do
better than continuing to delay the next budget anymore.
Listen to the Senate Democrats' Weekly Radio Address, here.
- Governor Walker and GOP
Out-of-Touch Transportation Budget
Recently, Governor Walker sent a plea to Republican leadership in
the Senate and Assembly begging them to save his political skin over
transportation funding in the state budget.
In his letter, Governor Walker attempts to entice legislative
Republicans by offering a small retreat from his massive borrowing
scheme, yet again he fails to address the desperate need for
infrastructure investment beyond mega-projects lobbied for by his
special interest donors.
This clearly shows that Wisconsin GOP leaders are complacent to
create a patchwork of half-measures that dangerously lacks vision
and commitment to finding a long-term sustainable funding for our
transportation needs and Wisconsin's future. Our citizens have
demanded more, yet the GOP continues to ignore the will of the
Click here to read the letter.
- Getting Kids Reading Ready
As part of my ongoing
leadership on education issues, I sit on bipartisan council that is
tasked with preparing our young kids with reading readiness. The
council met this week to discuss new outreach efforts to parents to
help them in preparing their young kids for entering school. This
Ready4K model is a text messaging program that is free to school
districts and sends out creative learning tools to parents. For
example, parents enrolled in the program would receive tips, such as
"When you're at the store, go on a letter hunt. Can your child
find an 'A' on a sign, box, or food label?"
Learn more about the Ready4K program, here.
This is just one step in a larger effort that must be made in
preparing young kids for school readiness. I look forward to
continuing to work with my Democratic colleagues on ways the state
can further invest in our children, such as broadening access to 4K
- Thank you, Hunger Task
The Hunger Task Force is doing great things for our children and
When school lets out each summer, some families find themselves
without the access to healthy meals each day. For 12 years, the
Hunger Task Force has worked tirelessly to provide a solution to
this problem, and they have had an amazing impact. There are now 138
Summer Food Service Program locations around the city that offer
free meals to all kids under the age of 18!
A huge thank you to the Hunger Task Force and their partner
organizations for their devotion to ensuring a healthy community!
Click here to learn more about this program.
- Congratulations, UWM Zilber
School of Public Health!
Congratulations to UW-Milwaukee for receiving accreditation for the
Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, UW-Milwaukee, which is now
the first Wisconsin public health school to receive accreditation.
This accreditation is another example of the hard work, dedication,
and talent within the UW System and why we need to continue to
invest in all levels of education.
Click here to learn more about this accomplishment!
- Bees and Pollinators in
Did you know that in 1977, the honey bee was declared Wisconsin's
state insect? Besides producing millions of pounds of honey each
year and helping boost our state economy, bees also play a vital
role in the balance of nature. Countless flowering plants are
pollinated by honey bees, including fruits and vegetables like
broccoli, squash, apples, and cherries.
Unfortunately, honey bees and other pollinators are in grave danger.
Neonicotinoids are a category of insecticide used in many
agricultural practices, but they have many negative effects on the
environment. A new study published in the journal Science
links neonicotinoid usage with fewer queen bees as well as colonies
having greater trouble surviving the winter.
States have taken several approaches to protect pollinators,
including habitat restoration, funding for pollinator protection,
education and study, and pesticide restrictions. At least 17 states
have bills to increase pollinator protection and awareness in the
2017 session. Do you think Wisconsin should do more to protect our
Share your thoughts in the comments section of this Facebook post.
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.
Thursday, July 13 and Friday, July 14 from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.,
Saturday, July 15, 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., and Sunday, July 16, 11 a.m.
to 9 p.m.
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.
South Shore Frolics
Friday, July 14, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, July 15, 11 a.m. to 10
p.m., and Sunday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Experience one of the oldest festivals in Milwaukee - 2017 marks its
68th year! Formerly known as the South Shore Water Frolic, the festival
includes children's games, fish fry, bands, art and vehicle exhibitions,
and the festival's signature Atomic Fireworks display. Join in on the
fun at South Shore Park.
Dog Day at Drexel
Saturday, July 15, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dog Day at Drexel features Pier Pups, a unique dock diving venture
that caters to all dogs, from novice to pro jumpers. This
family-friendly event also features dog-related vendors, business, and
Friday, July 21, 3 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday, July 22, 11:30
a.m. to Midnight, and Sunday, July 23, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Festa Italiana celebrates its 40th year in 2017! The festival is held at
the Henry W. Maier Festival Park, and stands as the largest Italian
event of its kind in America today. It carries on time-honored
traditions including the celebration of Sunday Mass and Procession,
cultural exhibits, bocce, gondolas, photos of the historic Third Ward
and Italians in Milwaukee, delicious food, entertainment, and fireworks!
Film on the Hill
Saturday, July 22, shortly after sunset
Enjoy a family-friendly movie in Humboldt Park. La La Land marks
the second film of the summer in the Bay View Neighborhood Association's
three-film summer series. The film will be played at the Humboldt Park
FUEL Summer Splash Boat Cruise
Thursday, July 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
FUEL Milwaukee, a community engagement organization for young
professionals and those new to the neighborhood, is sponsoring a summer
boat cruise along the Lake Michigan waterfront. This relaxing evening of
networking, relaxing, and skyline views departs from 101 West Michigan
Street at Milwaukee Boat Line's Primary Dock.
South Milwaukee Heritage Days
Monday, July 24 to Sunday, July 30, 2017
Take part in this annual tradition that celebrates the history and
vibrant community of South Milwaukee! Events include the 16th Annual
D.A.R.E. Golf Outing, organized by the South Milwaukee Police
Department's D.A.R.E. program, an Ice Cream Social and Band Concert,
Firehouse Spaghetti Dinner with accordion musician Val Sigal, and
more. Of course, don't forget to join me and 100 local groups to finish
off Heritage Days on Saturday, July 29, 11 a.m. at the the
Heritage Days Parade. The parade will begin at the corner of
Milwaukee Avenue and 8th Avenue, continue westward on Milwaukee to 16th
Avenue, and turn north to end at the South Milwaukee Lionsfest.