Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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 A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

Hope you had an enjoyable and reflective Memorial Day weekend. I was lucky enough to be a part of two Memorial Day ceremonies to pay homage to those that lost their lives fighting in military conflicts on behalf of America.

I wish we were discussing better news in this Larson report, however Republican leadership in the Senate and Assembly have begun dismantling the people's budget as introduced by Governor Evers. This report, I'll go through some of the top-line priorities that were stripped from the budget by the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC). Cutting the budget again now, after years of underfunding Wisconsin priorities over the last eight years, makes it all the more harrowing. I'll highlight a few, including those that are supported by a majority of our neighbors. If you're interested in a full listing of items pulled from the budget so far, they can be found HERE

As always, please let me know your thoughts.   

In Service, 

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Republicans Defy 70% Of Wisconsinites And Reject Medicaid Expansion  
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Wisconsin has had the opportunity to expand our state's Medicaid program using federal money allowed under the Affordable Care Act since 2014. Petty partisan politics have kept us moving backward on healthcare, covering fewer people and spending more money for it.

To be clear, the expansion of Medicaid is the cornerstone upon which our state budget is built. The money that Wisconsin has left on the table by not taking the federal expansion of Medicaid under The Affordable Care Act has left us underfunded and providing less healthcare coverage than our neighboring states. It is beyond frustrating that a small handful of Republican legislators are keeping Wisconsin from moving forward on the issue of healthcare security for so many of our neighbors. 

Nationally, America is paying more and getting less when it comes to how we spend our health care dollars. In fact, among high-income nations, the U.S. ranked last. According to the Commonwealth Report, the U.S. rated very poor in equality of coverage. 44 percent of low-income Americans have trouble gaining access to coverage compared with 26 percent of high-income Americans. When we should be focusing on moving towards a national system that covers all Americans, Republicans are choosing to focus their energy on rejecting the improvements that we can make here in Wisconsin.

This decision is particularly hard to understand when you consider just how much the people in Republican districts would benefit.

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But, he's not the only one...

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But wait, there's more...

 

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What this illustrates is that a small handful of Republicans are making decisions that are against the best interest of their constituents in order to make a petty partisan point.

I am extremely frustrated that this decision will have a negative impact on Milwaukee County. Below is a list of the things that Milwaukee County stands to lose as a result of this short-sighted decision. 

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Expanding Medicaid would have an overwhelmingly positive effect on all counties in Wisconsin. To find out how your community would benefit click HERE and find your county on the map.

We can not afford to allow the GOP to continue to deny our friends and neighbors the health coverage they have been patiently waiting for. 

Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization Removed From the Governor's Budget

The same small group of Republicans who decided for the rest of us to not expand Medicaid are also refusing to help those suffering from debilitating diseases by not allowing medical marijuana in Wisconsin.

Just as a reminder, medical marijuana is extremely useful for those fighting:

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Chron's disease
  • Hepatitis C
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • PTSD

Keeping this medication away from the patients that it can help is needlessly cruel. It is my hope that Republicans will come to their senses regarding this issue and that we can reinsert this necessary provision into the budget when it comes for a vote in front of the full Senate. Republican opposition is exceptionally puzzling considering a Marquette poll recorded 59% of our neighbors are in favor of legalization.

We know that African-Americans and other people of color are disproportionately prosecuted for low-level non-violent marijuana offenses. That is why Democrats support decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and expunging the records of those who have already been prosecuted under the laws currently on the books.

It is unfortunate that JFC Republicans have stripped the provision that would accomplish this goal from the budget. However, we will keep fighting to ensure that our draconian marijuana laws are changed in Wisconsin and that we catch up with the majority of the rest of the nation on this issue.

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More than any other issue, I am continuously approached by my neighbors and asked when we are going to finally reinvest in public education. As a father of two and a member of the Senate Committee on Education for six years, I deeply care about our children's education and I'm deeply troubled by the consistent devaluing of our teachers, public schools, and education system over the last eight years.

The budget, as supported by Democrats, would go a long way to reverse the over $1 billion cut by the previous administration. The below investment in our children represents a renewal of our commitment to a brighter future for Wisconsin.

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Our public educators have always done an amazing job with kids with special needs. Unlike private institutions and voucher schools, public schools cannot cherry pick which students they will accept and which students they will not.

Because of that fact, the budget (as originally written) invests heavily in public special education. This budget would have brought brings state support for special ed up to 60% by the second year of the biennium — totaling $606 million. Currently, at the statewide level, local districts spend over $1 billion annually covering the cost of special ed.

This clearly demonstrates our Wisconsin value that every student should receive a quality education — even those with special needs.

It is unfortunate and incredibly frustrating that Republicans on JFC decided to push forward an alternative K-12 budget that does little in the way of restoring our neighborhood schools or investing in the next generation. 

In their version, Republicans fell short in addressing the needs of our neighborhood schools by excluding $900 million requested by the Department of Public Instruction. Particularly troublesome is their unwillingness to adequately fund special needs students or address the funding inequities we see district to district. In fact is, Republicans included just one-sixth of the requested funding for special education.

As legislators, our job is to support all 860,000 students who attend public schools in Wisconsin. While Governor Evers is giving public schools the attention they need by making our students’ education a priority, Republican legislators are simply refusing to fund our schools at the necessary levels.

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Governor Evers wrote a bold state budget that envisions a renewal for Wisconsin and reflects the work and will of the people. 

Legislative Republicans have now begun the process of dismantling the budget and obstructing the will of the people. One of the budget proposals that has overwhelming support, is the increase of $600 million for public special education.

You can take action today. Call the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472 and ask for your state representatives, tell them you want them to support the $600 million for special ed in Wisconsin. 

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The Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to you. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and around the country. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighbors and friends across the nation. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks. 

Wisconsin Sues Perdue Pharma Over Opioid Crisis 

I was glad to stand with Attorney General Josh Kaul as he filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Heavy marketing and the spread of use of opioids has lead to addiction and devastation for families across Wisconsin. This is not a left or right issue, this is an issue of right and wrong. Five other states filed suit with Wisconsin, championed by a bipartisan list of state Attorneys General.

More of our neighbors in Wisconsin die from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents, suicides, or firearms. Purdue's deceptive marketing created a false sense of safety and effectiveness of opioids and that has had tragic consequences in Wisconsin and across our nation.  

 

 Foxconn "Innovation Centers" In Wisconsin Still Empty

Empty buildings and hollow promises. Since the beginning, Foxconn has failed to deliver on its end of the hasty and ill-conceived election year scheme they struck with Republicans in Wisconsin. Now, the shell game Foxconn has been pulling on Wisconsin is becoming apparent for all to see.

“State and local governments, meanwhile, have been building infrastructure and acquiring land based on the original, far more ambitious plan. Foxconn insists it will hire 13,000 people — though, at this point, the company’s assurances feel as empty as its innovation centers.”  

Wisconsin National Gaurd Sexual Assult/Harassment Policies Under Review

The National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations is in the process of assessing the Wisconsin National Guard’s sexual assault and sexual harassment policies and procedures. The six to nine-month assessment will evaluate the climate and morale in the National Guard units, gather data, and conduct interviews with soldiers and airmen and airwomen.

If you have any information about sexual assault and/or sexual harassment in the WI National Guard, please reach out to the NGB assessment team at - ng.ncr.ngb-arng.mbx.oi-wi-assessment@mail.mil

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