As a former executive director of a chamber of commerce, I am no stranger to negotiation. Coming up with win-win solutions is the essence of good business and good governance.
The latest debate over the state budget illustrates what happens when we don’t negotiate and let political posturing come before the needs of communities like ours. Proposals like Medicaid expansion, which is supported by 70 percent of Wisconsinites, become victim to political brinksmanship and partisan “wins.”
In the legislature, I am emphasizing bipartisanship in crafting new, innovative approaches to tackle the challenges facing our communities. I started the legislative session by authoring bipartisan legislation to provide funding to test privately-owned wells for harmful contaminants. I also worked with my Republican colleagues to co-author legislation to protect the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which makes it easier for qualified, out-of-state physicians to work in Wisconsin.
In divided government, it’s even more important to not only work across the aisle, but work with different levels and branches of government. That’s why I have made it a priority to engage the new administration and bring Madison to western Wisconsin. Since January, I have helped coordinate visits to the 10th Senate District from Governor Tony Evers, Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, Attorney General Josh Kaul, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman, Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, and Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson.
I have also worked with Attorney General Josh Kaul, Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), Rep. David Steffen (R-Green Bay), and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) to introduce legislation creating a process for the collection and handling of sexual assault kits. In 2014, the Department of Justice discovered that nearly 7,000 sexual kits were untested. This legislation would help prevent another backlog from occurring and ensure that survivors know that their kits are processed efficiently and with care.
Finger-pointing and posturing are nothing new in politics. However, we have the power to find common ground and put people before politics. It’s on all of us to reach out and reach back when the opportunity for positive change presents itself.
State Senator Patty Schachtner represents Wisconsin’s tenth senate district. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties. Senator Schachtner may be reached at (608) – 266 – 7745 or Sen.Schachtner@legis.wisconsin.gov.
With Budget Complete, a New Hope for Bipartisanship Arises