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Response to Gov. Walker’s “Fireside Chat”

Madison – State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) released the following statement this evening in response to Governor Scott Walker’s “Fireside Chat” regarding his budget repair bill:

“Governor Walker missed a tremendous opportunity this evening.  He could have used this address to offer a way forward, since public employees have already agreed to pay what he asked for toward their health care and pensions.  He could have started healing the divisions he created with this bill, which resulted in the largest protests by Wisconsin residents ever seen in the state capital.  Instead, he chose to continue his refusal to listen, his refusal to negotiate, and his failure to lead.

“Fortunately, thanks to our efforts to slow this radical bill, as more Wisconsin citizens learn about what’s in this legislation, opposition is growing.  Today, for example, Stevens Point Mayor Halverson announced that, if the Governor’s bill goes through, the city’s transit system will have to be shut down as a result of the loss of transit funding from the federal government due to the absence of collective bargaining provisions.  Concerns are growing as local governments statewide pass resolutions against the bill.  Without our action to delay the bill, it would already be law, and those communities would not have known about the devastation it will cause until it was too late.

“Groups such as the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups and Disability Rights Wisconsin have voiced opposition to the bill because of the radical effect it could have on SeniorCare and BadgerCare. More than 59,000 people in Central Wisconsin participate in these vital prescription drug and health care programs. And people throughout the state are disturbed by the bill’s proposal to sell off taxpayer-owned power plants without competitive bidding. This would allow the Administration to sell these public assets for next to nothing, leaving taxpayers holding the bag.  None of these provisions would have come to light until after the bill was already law if Governor Walker had be able to ram his bill through the Legislature in four days.

“Governor Walker’s repeated suggestion that the protestors in Madison are out-of-state agitators is an insult to the throngs of constituents who came to my office over the past ten days.  I met the protestors and talked to them, as the Governor has refused to do. They are real Wisconsin citizens.  They are at the Capitol by the tens of thousands because they are deeply concerned about the future that the Governor’s bill holds in store for our state.

“Leaders listen; leaders know how to compromise.  None of the dire consequences the Governor has threatened – massive layoffs, hundreds of thousands of children thrown off BadgerCare – none of these are necessary.  Public employees have accepted all the healthcare and pension concessions the Governor asked for.  He could have ended the crisis tonight by simply accepting that offer and moving forward.  I and my Senate colleagues continue to reach out to the Governor to find a resolution to this impasse.  I urge Governor Walker to be a true leader and bring the state together by ending his refusal to negotiate. Wisconsin’s future will not be built by taking rights from workers, causing pain for seniors and the disabled, and ending transparency and accountability in state government. ”