June 6, 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.
Description: Take advantage of this eight-day smorgasbord highlighting over 40 destination eateries with prix-fixe menus at $10 for lunch and $20 or $30 for dinner. Reservations are strongly encouraged. CLICK HERE for more information, including a list of participating restaurants and their menus.
Chill on the Hill
Location: Bay View
Stop by this local music concert series on Tuesday nights this summer at
Humboldt Park. Opening acts start at 6 p.m. with main acts running from
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Bay View Neighborhood Association operates
the concert series in partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks, with
the support of numerous local sponsors, including area restaurants,
vendors, and organizations.
CLICK HERE to view the poster for this event, which contains the
summer music line-up.
Jazz in the Park
Jazz in the Park is an outdoor, free, summer music series featuring a
line-up of jazz, big band, funk, R&B, reggae, blues, and more.
Performers come from across town or across the country. Music starts at
6 p.m., but stop by early for Jazz in the Park Happy Hour and get great
drink specials. All proceeds from sales help offset the high costs of
production and ensure continued success of the summer festival.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Date: Fri., June 7 through Sun., June 9
Attend this annual festival that was founded in 1988 by the LGBT
community. Every year, PrideFest attracts thousands of people and
families, both gay and straight. With permanent stages, food buildings,
vendor pavilions, and support from Milwaukee World Festivals, PrideFest
kicks-off Milwaukee's festival season. Admission is $16 for a single-day
ticket at the gate or $13 online. A weekend pass is $30.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Henry Maier Festival
Locust Street Festival
Date: Sun., June 9 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Description: Join our neighbors at the Locust Street Festival in Riverwest for its 37th year. There will be music and dancing in the street with over 30 bands on six outdoor stages, over 100 unique vendors, a scrabble tournament, and the famous 1.8-mile beer run/walk. Admission is free. The festival will be held at Locust Street between Holton Street and Humboldt Boulevard. CLICK HERE for more information.
Description: As a part of their continued commitment to honor our veterans for their heroic service, the Milwaukee Center for the Performing Arts is hosting their 3rd annual Flag Day Celebration. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Join in this very special tribute to the men and women of our military. CLICK HERE for more information.
Peck Pavilion (MAP)
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
929 N. Water Street Milwaukee, WI 53202
Date: Wed., June 19 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Description: Juneteenth Day is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States and has been a Milwaukee festival since the 1970s. A parade starts off the festivities that include kids games, exhibits, soul food, music, and much more. Local African dance groups and musical groups will be participating in this celebration. Admission is free. This event is located on King Drive between Burleigh and Center.
This week, Republicans caused catastrophic damage to our state in one fell swoop by expanding vouchers statewide, rejecting federal health care dollars, and pushing through anti-women legislation. Continue reading for more information on these and other important community issues.
|Republicans Expand Vouchers Statewide|
Our worst fears came true this week when legislative Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted unanimously in the middle of the night to approve statewide voucher expansion and increase property taxes. Those of us residing in Milwaukee and Racine counties are already familiar with the damage our children, property taxes, and community 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.
Budget Expands Vouchers Statewide and Much More
The education budget, was taken up at 1 a.m. on Wednesday, and passed in JFC along party lines with a vote of 12-4. The JFC version that passed is even more extreme than Governor Walker's voucher proposal, as it expands the voucher program to all 424 school districts, while the governor's would have only expanded it to nine new school districts. Further, while the program will be capped at 500 students in the 2013-14 school year and 1,000 students in the 2014-15 school year, Wisconsinites are smart enough to see through this arbitrary limit. This cap is clearly temporary and will likely be increased with future legislation and through budgets down the road.
This is not the only startling voucher-related proposal that made its way into the Republican budget. They also approved an astronomical increase of as much as $1,414 in additional per pupil spending for students in the voucher program. Meanwhile, our local public schools will only receive an additional $150 per pupil annually, which is not nearly enough to make up for the historic $1.6 billion in cuts contained in the 2011-2013 Republican budget. As a result, our public schools will continue to be institutions where teachers are tasked with managing 30, 35, or 40 kids in one class, where the art rooms are always dark, where the textbooks are out-of-date and falling apart, and where they keep a piano in the cafeteria because the part-time music teacher no longer has a classroom.
Unfortunately, while the voucher program will now be receiving more taxpayer dollars, it will not see an increase in accountability or transparency measures. Democratic JFC members introduced the following amendments to increase accountability and transparency, all of which were rejected by Republican committee members:
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.
Further, as our public school students and their parents continue to be penalized by having to support two separate and unequal school districts, the parents of private school students will be rewarded in this budget with a tax break totaling $30 million in the 2014-2015 school year for an annual per student deduction of up to $10,000. This provision clearly seeks to further accelerate the privatization of our K-12 schools.
Study After Study Confirms Voucher
In addition to this study, data
recently collected by DPI shows a snapshot of just how voucher school
students are performing compared to their public school counterparts. This
data analyzes how all voucher and public school students in 4th, 8th and
10th grade performed in reading, math, and science during the 2010-2011
school year. According to the data, Milwaukee Public School students
outperformed voucher students in eight out of nine categories.
It is important to note that there are
private schools in our community that provide a positive educational
experience to families interested in receiving a faith-based education.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to weed out the bad from the good
without the necessary transparency measures in place. As it stands, the
voucher program remains unaccountable. Our children and Wisconsin's property
taxpayers cannot afford to continue to support the bad, unaccountable institutions
that have failed our children and taken advantage of the voucher program. If we continue down
this path, it is not only Wisconsin's future workers that will suffer,
but also our state. Our children's success or failure dictates whether
we succeed or fail.
Paying More to Insure Less
Vouchers was not the only hot-button issue up for debate during the late night Joint Finance Committee (JFC) executive session as health care also came before the committee. In a shocking vote, Republican JFC members voted against common sense by increasing spending to insure fewer working Wisconsinites. With their vote, JFC members rejected federal dollars that would have provided more Wisconsinites with life-saving health care coverage.
The Affordable Care Act offers states the option of extending coverage of our health safety net programs, like BadgerCare. The federal government picks up 100% of the cost for the first three years and no less than 90% every year thereafter. It defies logic that Republicans would choose to reject the opportunity to expand health care coverage to nearly 85,000 more Wisconsinites, save the state $119 million, and create approximately 10,500 new jobs for a state that is lagging behind the rest of the nation.
Republicans attempted to disguise the issue by saying that Wisconsinites in need could simply buy private coverage in the exchanges, but failed to note that their plan does not make that insurance affordable for them. For example, a family of two making between $15,510 and $20,628 annually would be required to pay up to $4,000 a year out-of-pocket, plus premiums. Families unable to make that payment will be left uninsured and using emergency rooms with the costs shifted on to taxpayers.
In addition to rejecting federal
dollars, we also saw Republicans throw $73 million in taxpayer dollars
to hospitals (who supported taking federal dollars for BadgerCare) to cover
increased costs associated with those who will no
longer be insured under the Republican proposal. This is
essentially a $73 million admission that their refusal to accept federal
funding to strengthen BadgerCare is going to result in thousands of
Wisconsin residents being forced to rely on hospital emergency rooms
rather than a primary care provider for health services. As a result,
Wisconsin taxpayers will now not only be responsible to pay for other
states to take advantage of available health care dollars, but we will
also have to pay an additional $73 million. No matter how
you do the math, it is immoral to pay more to insure fewer people.
Anti-Women Bills Reach the Senate
It appears legislative Republicans did not learn from their follies last session, given that they have reignited the war on women with the introduction of three anti-women laws. Continue reading for more information about these proposals, which received a public hearing in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services this Wednesday.
Restricting Birth Control Coverage
Women have long faced discrimination when it comes to health insurance coverage. Over the years, insurance companies in Wisconsin have been required to cover basic women's health care like mammograms, maternity care and, in 2009, birth control. In addition, the Affordable Care Act put in place federal protections to ensure that all women had access to preventative services under their health plan--including birth control. Organizations from the National Institute of Medicine to the World Health Organization to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists tell us that access to birth control is the single greatest investment in women's health that a community can make.
Despite the clear evidence of positive effects birth control has on our community, Senator Glenn Grothman has introduced Senate Bill 202, legislation that would allow religious employers to discriminate against women by denying them affordable access to birth control. The proposal is illogical given that a fall 2012 study released by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) demonstrated that access to no co-pay birth control coverage leads to significantly lower unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.
This proposal will not affect a small minority of women. In fact, another CDC study released this February found that virtually all women of reproductive age between 2006 and 2010 who had ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method at some point in their lifetime (99%, or 53 million women aged 15 to 44). In addition, birth control is not only a valuable family planning tool, but it also has many other medical benefits, According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58% of women use birth control for noncontraceptive health care reasons, which include:
Limiting access to birth control for these women may not only make it impossible for them to have children when they decide to expand their families, but also prevent them from being productive members of the workforce. Debilitating cramps, painful migraines, extreme exhaustion, and unpredictable menstrual cycles can cause women to miss work, produce poorer quality work, or be admitted to the hospital. With extremism blocking access to health care treatments, such health issues could be costly to employers, workers, and taxpayers alike.
Intruding into the Doctor-Patient Relationship
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services also took up Senate Bill 201 and Senate Bill 206, bills that infringe on the private relationship between a woman and her physician. These proposals aim to increase barriers on women interested in all family planning options through mandates related to ultrasounds.
Government interference in matters of family planning, which are intrinsically private and personal, is unacceptable. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, women have been granted a constitutional right to privacy, as well as the authority to make decisions related to their own body. To wage a legislative war on women by attacking this fundamental freedom is an insult to women across Wisconsin.
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.
Did You Know...?
You may be aware of the importance of getting the necessary vitamin D to ensure better health. But did you know that it was UW-Madison Biochemistry Professor Harry Steenbock who discovered a way to increase the vitamin D content in foods?
While working in his UW-Madison lab in late 1923, Steenbock discovered that he could increase the vitamin D content of foods by irradiating them with ultraviolet light. This important discovery virtually eliminated rickets, a crippling bone disease.
To ensure sufficient vitamin D levels, make sure that, in addition to eating vitamin D-rich foods, you are also getting frequent short exposure to the sun totally 15-30 minutes two to four times a week.
It is CPR Awareness Week
National CPR Awareness Week is June
1-7 and highlights that learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation can save
lives. The American Heart Association is calling on all Americans to
learn how to use Hands-Only CPR, which is CPR without mouth-to-mouth
breaths. Conventional CPR can more than double or triple a person's
chance of survival, and Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be just as
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