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3/1/2011

                 

Reaction to Gov. Walker’s Budget Address

Madison – State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) released the following statement this afternoon in response to Governor Walker’s budget address:

“Governor Walker’s address was long on rhetoric and short on details.  Over the next few days, I’ll be studying the bill carefully to understand the impact it will have on the people of central Wisconsin.  Tough decisions and painful cuts will be necessary to get the state’s fiscal house in order as we continue to face the effects of the worldwide economic downturn.  However, it looks as if Governor Walker is balancing the state budget on the backs of children, working families and local governments.

“In the last session, we started with a budget shortfall almost twice the size as the one Governor Walker faces.  Yet we balanced that budget while protecting education and other vital services.  The Governor has chosen a different approach: more tax cuts for the wealthy, more pain for middle class families.  That approach has been tried on both the state and federal level, and it has always failed.

“From his remarks, it appears that Governor Walker has chosen to pass the pain down to our local communities.  By massively slashing aid to local governments, the Governor is putting our counties, cities, towns and villages between a rock and a hard place.  They will have little choice but to cut vital public services.  Schools will be closed, police and fire protection will be cut, highways and bridges will deteriorate, and children, seniors and disabled people will be deprived of the services they need.  This budget will last for two years, but the damage Governor Walker will cause with these cuts will last for a long time to come.

“This budget includes damaging cuts to education.  Our preliminary indication is that the Marshfield schools stand to lose more than $2.7 million; Wisconsin Rapids schools will lose more than $3.8 million; Stevens Point schools will lose more than $5 million.  Our more rural school districts will also face devastating cuts.  Make no mistake – slashing education this way will harm our children’s education today, and Wisconsin will pay the price in lost economic growth for at least a generation.

“We also have initial indications that BadgerCare and FamilyCare will be especially hard hit.  Changing eligibility requirements and higher copays threaten to cost tens of thousands of families their health care.  This will saddle working families and seniors with more costs that they can’t afford.

 “I hope the Republican leadership in the Legislature will hold full hearings on the budget throughout the state, and that they will listen carefully to the voices of Wisconsin citizens.  It is possible to create a compromise that balances the budget, shares the sacrifice fairly, and protects our state’s most vulnerable people.  I will continue working toward a budget that meets those goals.”