am honored to serve as your state representative from the 46th Assembly
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
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
46th Assembly District
|I have grave concerns regarding the impact
that Gov. Walker's budget will have on public education. Read
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
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
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
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
• An “Obamaphone” program. The program started in 1985 under President
Ronald Reagan and was expanded under President George W. Bush to include
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
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
Check out my home page!