June 27, 2013
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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.
MIAD 2013 Juried Senior Exhibition
Date: Now through Sat., July 27
you missed the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design's renowned annual
senior exhibition, stop by to see faculty-juried works from all majors
in the 2013 Juried Senior Exhibition. This event is being held in MIAD's
Frederick Layton Gallery.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 291-8070 for more information.
The Milwaukee Art Museum Presents: 30 Americans
Date: Now through Sun., September 8
Americans is a dynamic exploration of contemporary American art.
Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, video, and more made
by African American artists since 1970 raise questions of what it means
to be a contemporary artist and an African American today. Whether
addressing issues of race, gender, sexuality, politics, or history--or
seemingly remaining silent about them--these works offer powerful
interpretations of cultural identity and artistic legacy.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 224-3200 for more information.
Description: Lunar Light focuses on our Moon, which has captivated our imagination enough to explore it with humans and machines. The live presentation will highlight Earth-Moon-Sun interactions that result in dramatic events such as lunar and solar eclipses, ocean tides, and different phases of the Moon. The presentation will include Greek myths associated with the Moon. As always, there is a portion of the program that focuses on stars and constellations projected on the dome to simulate both a city and country sky. Please note there is no show on July 5. CLICK HERE for more information.
Manfred Olson Planetarium
1900 East Kenwood Blvd.
Lake Park Concert
Date: Mon., July 1 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: "Musical Monday" begins its 16th season on July 1 with a performance by the Big Top Brass Band. Under the baton of Dr. Nicholas J. Contorno of Marquette University, the Big Top Brass will present the music of America. The concert will go on, rain or shine. Musical Monday concerts begin at 6:30 p.m. and wrap-up at 8 p.m. These concerts are free and open to the public. All concerts take place at the Lake Park Summer Stage in Lake Park Picnic Area #3, just south of the playground and tennis courts. For a convenient dinner option, check out Good Food Dude, a Milwaukee food truck that plans to be on site during the 2013 Musical Mondays and Wonderful Wednesdays performing season. They will also provide cold (and hot) beverage options. CLICK HERE for more information.
Lake Park (MAP)
3233 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
The Marcus Center presents the Starry Nights Orchestra with the
Florentine Opera Company and the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra.
This free patriotic Americana program, a unique collaboration between
the Marcus Center and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center, is a wonderful way
to start your 4th of July weekend.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-7206 for more information.
South Shore Frolic
Despite bipartisan opposition in both legislative houses, the extreme budget passed and will go into effect on Monday, July 1, pending the governor's signature. Continue reading for a breakdown of the concerning budget provisions in such areas as job creation, education, health care, taxes, natural resources, and much more.
Extreme, Backwards Republican Budget Passes
The Legislature took up the controversial Republican budget last week, with the Assembly meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday before passing it off to the Senate on Thursday. This budget saw bipartisan opposition in both the Assembly and Senate as it came before the full Legislature for a vote. Despite this opposition, it passed through the Assembly on June 19, 2013, with a 55-42 vote. It then passed through the Senate, by the narrowest possible margin, on June 21, 2013.
This is not the path that will allow
Wisconsin to grow from 44th in the nation in job growth, therefore, I
voted against the budget. The budget will now go to Governor Walker
where I hope he will use his authority to veto some of the many harmful
provisions of the 2013-15 state budget. Continue reading for a list of
the particularly harmful provisions contained in the most recent,
JOBS & ECONOMY
While many other states are starting to see improvement in their overall economic health, Wisconsin continues to lag behind. Statistic after statistic shows Wisconsin among the bottom states for economic growth. Below is a summary of where Wisconsin ranks with regard to job creation and economic development:
Given that legislative Republicans have routinely chosen to prioritize tea party politics and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations over areas proven to create jobs, such as education, job training, and public transit, it is no wonder we are floundering. Unfortunately, the Republican budget simply expanded the unsuccessful policies of last session, which we know are not the cure for Wisconsin's lagging job creation, falling wages, and growing skills gap.
Rather than ensure our technical colleges have the necessary tools to provide future generations of Wisconsin workers with the skills needed to compete in a 21st century economy, the budget failed to restore the $67 million worth of cuts from the previous budget. The same trend was seen in our K-12 schools and universities, all of which are crucial in worker training and job creation. My colleagues and I introduced an amendment to provide greater financial aid support to prospective students, however, this amendment was rejected by Republicans.
This is not the only way the Republican budget failed Wisconsinites. Wisconsin's job creation agency, WEDC, has been mired by controversy including authorizing illegal loans and tax credits, losing track of millions of dollars in loans, and spending taxpayer money on such questionable items as alcohol and iTunes gift cards. Such problems have made it impossible for this public-private agency to fulfill its promise--to create jobs and increase economic development--to Wisconsin and its taxpayers. This budget did little to remedy the problems at WEDC by failing to providing enough oversight for this troubled agency, while still increasing their funding over the biennium. Without these improvements and investments, Wisconsin will continue to fall behind in future rankings.
The greatest harm to educational
opportunities came true when legislative Republicans voted to approve
statewide voucher expansion, thus increasing property taxes. Those of us
residing in Milwaukee and Racine counties are already familiar with the
damage our children, property taxes, and communities suffer as a result
of expanding unaccountable voucher schools. Over the past 20 years,
we have spent $1.5 billion on a voucher experiment that has failed the
students of Milwaukee and Racine. In fact, study after study has
confirmed that voucher school students fare no better and often worse
than their public school counterparts. Unfortunately, rather than
learning from the mistakes of Milwaukee and Racine's voucher programs,
Republicans have instead decided to take the rest of the state down with
this sinking ship.
These were not the only common sense amendments to be rejected. Senate Democrats also put forward amendments on the floor that would do the following:
Republicans also pounced on the
opportunity to ensure that if our public schools get dollars, so do
unaccountable voucher schools. Their adopted proposal specifies that
starting in the next state budget, increases for public schools and
voucher schools will be linked. Thus, if one receives a $100-per-student
increase, the other would as well.
A key component of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the opportunity to receive more funding from the federal government to strengthen our BadgerCare program by filling the gaps in coverage. In fact, the federal government offers 100% of the funding needed to fill the coverage gap for the first three years and at least 90% in subsequent years. In February, the governor announced he would reject the ACA's recommended path to pursue his own Medicaid plan, which will cost the state more taxpayer money to cover fewer Wisconsinites.
The Republican-controlled Joint
Finance Committee (JFC) had an opportunity to set Wisconsin back on the
right track when it took up this portion of the state budget on June 4,
2013. Instead, they approved most of the governor's plan in a 12-4 vote.
Senate Democrats introduced several amendments on the floor to the 2013-15 state
budget pertaining to Medicaid funding including an amendment to accept
the full Medicaid expansion funding. This amendment was rejected by the
TAXES & SPENDING
The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal
Bureau looked into the Republican tax plan passed in the budget further
to see just who would benefit and to what extent. According to their
analysis, which has also been widely reported in the media, more than
54% of the proposed tax break would go to taxpayers making more than
$100,000 a year. Therefore, unlike those making six-figure salaries, the
average Wisconsin family will not see the same benefits.
Expanding the unsuccessful policies of last session is not the cure for Wisconsin's lagging job creation, falling wages, and growing skills gap. To move Wisconsin forward, we must take a balanced approach to ensure our schools have the necessary tools to provide future generations of Wisconsin workers with the necessary skills to compete in a 21st century economy. Failing to do this makes it nearly impossible to get Wisconsin back on track with where the rest of the country is in terms of job growth rather than lagging at 44th in job creation.
In addition to altering Wisconsin's tax code, Republicans also exempted themselves from having to balanced the budget. Wisconsin state statutes currently require the Legislature to balance each biennial budget. That means, spending cannot exceed projected revenue. This law was implemented in 2001 to protect the taxpayers of Wisconsin and has been followed until now. With the passage of this budget, Republicans again told Wisconsinites that they are above the law by including a provision exempting them from this common sense statute. As a result, Republicans will be able to spend, spend, spend at the expense of Wisconsin taxpayers.
This budget continued down the same
path as the last one, by increasing financial support to highways, while
providing little to our public transit infrastructure. A 2012 report
titled Transportation and the New Generation released by the
Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group revealed that for the first
time since World War II, Americans are driving less. Despite the fact
that public transit use is increasing while people are driving less,
highway expansion projects continue to be highly prioritized.
While I hoped anti-conservation
Republicans would have learned from their mistakes in sacrificing the
health of our treasured bodies of water, it appears they are continuing
down the same road that led us here. The 2013-2015 Biennial Budget that
passed included a provision that will be detrimental to our neighbors
and businesses. The Republican budget prevents citizens from
challenging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' (DNR)
approval of high-capacity wells based on the cumulative negative
environmental impact the high volume water withdrawal would have on
neighboring drinking water wells and area lakes and streams.
Moving backwards in conservation policies threatens to do long-term damage to the environment that we have fought to maintain. The Stewardship Program is an essential tool in preserving Wisconsin's natural resources. If it continues to be scaled back, Wisconsin's future generations will face the consequences for years to come.
Allowing bounty hunters to operate in
Wisconsin is an unpopular idea with law enforcement, judges, and
prosecutors due to the negative impact they can have on public safety.
Not only can citizens be subject to ill treatment at the hands of these
bounty hunters, but bounty hunters will also be able to dictate and
influence the release of individuals charged with a crime who may be a
danger to our society.
My colleagues and I introduced over 50 amendments to try and fix the budget to ensure it reflects our shared Wisconsin values. Unfortunately, not only did Senate Republicans cut off debate before we were able to vote on each amendment, but they also rejected every amendment we offered. This action confirms what we have been saying from the beginning: Radical legislative Republicans are not interested in entertaining common sense solutions to create jobs in our state and are unwilling to move Wisconsin forward in a bipartisan manner.
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.
Creates a Structural Deficit
This budget creates a structural deficit of at least $500 million, leading us down a dangerous road. One Republican legislator stated that he "must prioritize the views of my constituents by voting against this flawed two-year spending plan." Further the same legislator also notes that this budget will increase taxpayer financed spending by 3.1% compared to the previous budget and increase property taxes by $159.4 million in December 2013 and $179 million in December 2014.
Backroom Voucher Deal Bad for Wisconsin
Republicans and Democrats alike have been trying to get the truth about vouchers expansion out to the public--that the provision is the result of a backroom lobby deal between the powerful voucher lobbyists and Republicans interested in job security or political financing. A Republican legislator who opposed the budget was quoted as saying, "The parental school choice deal in this budget is great for the politicians that cut it behind closed doors. However, it's nothing short of an absolute cave-in to the status-quo defenders of the education bureaucracy in the State Senate. The low income families of this state will have the school door of hope slammed in their face if this deal becomes law." A different Republican senator addressed the fact that he was involved in the creation of the initial voucher experiment in Milwaukee, but stated the following regarding his opposition to statewide expansion: "After 20 years, I haven't seen any adequate evidence that the experiment is working, let alone [is] worthy of expansion." Further, this legislator stated that continuing to support two parallel school district will only harm our public schools and our communities.
Shady Nonfiscal Provisions Inserted Last-Minute
Democratic legislators were not the only ones upset that this fiscal budget document was being used to further nonfiscal policy items. A Republican legislator said in a statement prior to passage of the budget, "There is no reasonable explanation of why the bail bondsmen language was inserted in the state budget. Both liberals and conservatives in the law enforcement community oppose this slimy budget provision citing its negative impacts on victims and the financing of our courts, plus an increased threat to public safety."
Another Republican legislator that voted "no" on the budget said he was surprised to see so many nonfiscal items in the budget given that during his run for governor, Scott Walker had the following quote listed on his Web site: "Strip policy and pork projects from the state budget. The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayers' ability to pay. It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign."
Did You Know...?
You may be familiar with the Noah's Ark water park from visiting with family and friends. But did you know that this water park is also the largest in the United States?
Noah's Ark is located the heart of Wisconsin Dells and spans about 70 acres. It boasts 41 waterslides, two huge wave pools, two endless rivers, four children's water play areas, an activity pool, and more. This and other Wisconsin Dells attractions are vital to our state as visitor spending of $875 million generated $1.2 billion in total business sales in Wisconsin Dells in 2011 alone.
June is Invasive Species Awareness Month
This June marks Wisconsin's 9th Annual
Invasive Species Awareness Month. Invasive species are non-native
plants, animals, or pathogens, which are a threat to Wisconsin's waters,
wetlands, and wild lands. These invasive species break down and destroy
Wisconsin natural habitats and ecosystems through harming native plants
of two significant invasive species in Wisconsin include the sea lamprey
and the zebra mussel. The sea lamprey is a parasite and member of the
"jawless fish" family, which attack lake fish with their teeth to feed
on them. Sea lampreys have a negative impact on Wisconsin's anglers who
fish for popular game fish that is increasingly falling victim to the
sea lamprey. The zebra mussel is a small freshwater mussel, which brings
bacteria to lakes. Because they are sharp, grow in clusters, and are
difficult to remove, they often hamper boating, swimming, fishing,
hunting, hiking, and other recreation. They also take and economic toll
on commercial, agricultural, forestry and aquacultural resources.
This month highlights how important it
is to stay aware of these invasive species and protect the natural
lands of Wisconsin. Below are some tips to help stop the spread of these
Tips for Boaters, Paddlers, and Anglers
The main way sea lampreys and zebra mussels invade Wisconsin waters is through the unintentional contact between bodies of water where these species previously exist, and boats and water equipment transported to new areas. Remember these tips the next time you are out on the lake:
Tips for Campers, Gardeners, and Landowners
Other invasive species, such as insects, fungi, and reed canary grass reach wetlands and woodlands through human activity such as urban development, farming, and gardening. Next time you are outside in the woods or in your own backyard, here are tips to keep in mind to prevent wetland and terrestrial invasive species from spreading:
You can make a difference by becoming
involved in local efforts to control these invasive species and educate
others on the importance of prevention. Many local communities host
workshops, field trips, lectures and other activities, which include
ways to contribute and help combat invasive species, such as weed-outs
and clean-ups. For more information, contact your area neighborhood
association, friends, family, or other local organizations to become
involved and coordinate new events.
Stop by Summerfest
Our community is currently hosting the celebrated Summerfest Music Festival from Noon to Midnight now through Sunday, June 30 and Tuesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 7.
Summerfest attracts 800,000 to 1
million festival-goers each year, rightfully earning the title of the
"World's Largest Music Festival." Summerfest has proven to be a beneficial way to support our local economy, as well as
providing us with entertainment from both local and nationally-known
talent. Ticket sales, food and beverage commissions, and total revenue
all increased between 2011 and 2012 and are expected to continue to
increase this year. This exciting event helps to boost sales for
neighborhood restaurants and businesses while simultaneously supporting
local musicians and artists. It has been estimated that Summerfest has
generated between $150 to $200 million in direct and indirect economic
impact for our community each year.
Summer Activities in Our Community
Our community offers a wide variety of summer activities for families, children, and adults alike. Below are just a few activities that you can take part in this summer.
Whether you are an avid music lover,
or just want to spend time outdoors with friends and family, our
community boasts a number of free summer concert series that everyone
can enjoy. Check out some of these great events listed below.
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