Friday, March 27

 
 

Dear Friends,

I am honored to serve as your state representative from the 46th Assembly District.

Like many of you, I'm excited to see the Badgers basketball team advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament. The Badgers serve as a reminder of all of the good that the University of Wisconsin does for our state and for our community. We take great pride in our schools and in our student athletes, and I'm proud to be a Badger!

I hope you find this latest edition of the Hebl Herald informative. Below, I address my concerns with a provision in the governor's budget that would lift the cap on the unaccountable voucher school program. I also discuss legislation I am co-sponsoring that will help make state government more transparent and accountable.

Please remember that I am here to serve you. Do not hesitate to contact me regarding state issues that concern you. My door is always open to you. Please stop by and visit to discuss any state matter.

Sincerely,

Gary Hebl
State Representative
46th Assembly District
 

 

I have grave concerns regarding the impact that Gov. Walker's budget will have on public education. Read more below.

Breaking Down the Budget

On February 3, Gov. Walker released his state budget proposal. Like many of you, I was shocked and disappointed by many of the provisions included in the budget. Over the next several e-updates, I will be including a segment called Breaking Down the Budget, in which I will dissect specific provisions in the budget that I find troubling. Below is a list of items I'll be discussing. Items linked in blue were covered in previous e-updates and can be viewed by clicking on the text.


Lifting the Statewide Private Voucher Cap Hurts Our Public Schools

 

Governor Walker's budget proposal includes a provision that would remove the cap on private school vouchers statewide.

This budget proposal siphons school funding from local public schools to pay for a taxpayer-subsidized private school voucher program. Taxpayer dollars would be funneled out of public schools and into unaccountable private schools.

This budget requires schools to look for ways to cut funding from their already meager district budgets. Along with more money diverted to voucher schools, the governor's budget reduces state support for education and forces local public schools to reduce per pupil spending by $150 on average in the 2015-16 school year.

These continued cuts to education come on the heels of the largest cut to public education in our state’s history in the 2013-15 budget.

The 46th Assembly District is home to some of the finest public schools in the nation. I am a proud graduate of Sun Prairie High School. I have heard from teachers and administrators that these cuts will have a direct impact on their ability to provide effective education.

People in every corner of our state are proud of their public schools and don’t want to see them stripped of resources to fund a separate private school system.

We invest in public schools because we know that the schools invest in our children. We depend on these schools to produce smart, thoughtful, talented young minds. Yet the governor's budget diminishes the good work of our public schools and threatens the future of education in Wisconsin.

The governor continues to wage a war against public education. For the benefit of children across our state, the governor must abandon his plan to lift the cap on taxpayer-funded private school vouchers.
 


 

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SPREADING SOME SUNSHINE

Last week was National Sunshine Week, an annual awareness campaign on the need for open and honest government. Sunshine Week impresses upon governments of every level – from town boards to city councils to state legislatures to Congress – the importance of a transparent and accountable government.

I am proud to display portraits of good government advocates Robert La Follette and William Proxmire in my legislative office. All legislators should strive for the highest levels of transparency and accountability, and these two Wisconsin greats would certainly agree.
 
The Legislature should take steps to honor the notion that Wisconsin’s governmental proceedings should be open to the public. The Legislature has exempted itself from the state’s Open Meetings law, which I think is wrong. That is why I am co-authoring bipartisan legislation with Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) that would require the Legislature to hold partisan caucuses out in the open. If we want to reform state government, we have to allow transparency at every opportunity.

This legislation has support from both Democrats and Republicans, showing that reforming state government isn’t a partisan matter.

A good government cannot function properly unless that government provides its citizens with the opportunity to be involved and aware of its actions. Wisconsin’s government can be restored to the days of transparency and accountability. It will involve political leaders acknowledging that we must return power to the people of Wisconsin.

I plan to continue to push for a government that would make Robert La Follette and William Proxmire proud.
 



I recently met with the Wisconsin Innocence Project (WIP). WIP is a program at the UW Law School which operates to exonerate wrongly-convicted persons. The students were in the Capitol to pass out invitations to an upcoming informational presentation regarding WIP. You can find more information on WIP here. Details on WIP's event are below.

 

WISCONSIN INNOCENCE PROJECT INFORMATIONAL PRESENTATION

State Capitol, Room 412 East
Wednesday, April 8
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.


Explaining the Lifeline Phone Program

Chances are you haven’t heard of a federal program that offers cell phone plans at a discount to low-income citizens.

The Lifeline Phone Program, administered by the FCC, has been in place for thirty years. Unfortunately, the Lifeline program has come under fire in recent years based on misinformation. I thought I’d provide some information on the program.

Here is what Lifeline is NOT:

• A free phone program. The program does not provide phones. The program provides discounted cellphone plans based on income and minutes. The phones are supplied by providers such as AT&T.

• A taxpayer-subsidized program. No public funds are involved. The providers and the Lifeline customers cover the costs.

• A family plan. The program only authorizes one Lifeline phone per household.

• An “Obamaphone” program. The program started in 1985 under President Ronald Reagan and was expanded under President George W. Bush to include cell phones.

Here’s what the program is:

• A cellphone plan offered at a discount to qualifying customers based on their income.

• Basic phones. No smart phones.

• A federal program initiated by President Reagan to make sure all Americans, including low-income and elderly, have contact with emergency services, family and other necessary activities such as physician appointments.

One criticism of the program is that some Lifeline recipients already have either a land line phone or a cell phone. You may ask, “If they already have a phone, why give them a Lifeline phone?”

The answer is that Lifeline customers are able to drop more expensive land line and traditional cell phone plans. Lifeline customers are often on fixed and low incomes or suffering from disabilities that prevent them from working. Lifeline allows them to apply more of their income to food and other necessities.

Another criticism is that Lifeline phones are more convenient and the program should not be used simply for someone’s convenience. The convenience aspect of the program has to do with mobility. As the name implies, Lifeline phones can be carried by customers for use in case of an emergency. In the case of a fall outside, for example, it may not be possible for someone to get to a land line phone.

The Lifeline plan and basic cell phones supplied by providers make up a decades-old and worthy program providing not a free, but a discounted necessary service to low-income customers who are often elderly. If you believe that you, your parents, your friends, or other loved ones may be eligible and in need of this service, I would encourage you to visit www.fcc.gov/lifeline.
 



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