Katrina Shankland for The Cap Times
Now that Gov. Scott Walker has suspended his campaign for president, I hope this means that he'll immediately reimburse Wisconsin taxpayers for his many out-of-state campaign trips, including the cost of his additional security and travel. I also have a to-do list for him and the Republican Legislature:
1. It's time to bring back the middle class and make it easier for working families to get ahead. Let's start by making child care more affordable, allowing people with student loan debt to refinance their loans, creating a private retirement fund modeled after the Wisconsin Retirement System, and passing earned sick day legislation so that Wisconsin workers have time to take care of their loved ones.
2. Strengthen BadgerCare. Now that the governor is no longer running for president, he shouldn't have a single reason to turn down the federal tax dollars that the people of Wisconsin have already paid. We could cover 80,000 more people and save $360 million over the next two years, which we could immediately invest in education and other priorities.
3. Stop privatizing the services and institutions that support our communities. Long-term care services should remain local and should not be handed over to private for-profit insurance companies. The state should stop giving public money to private schools, and instead renew Wisconsin's commitment to our public schools, colleges, and universities by fairly funding them.
4. Invest in our infrastructure — stop kicking the can down the road. Republicans have repeatedly failed to invest in our roads, which are sorely in need of repair. We must adequately fund construction and repairs to our roads and bridges, as well as expand rural broadband access and invest in high-speed rail.
5. Honor workers by valuing their hard work with policies to help them thrive. If Republicans truly cared about "reducing dependence on government," they would raise the minimum wage and empower Wisconsin workers. From workplace protections to paid family leave, giving workers a fighting chance will pay dividends through higher revenue and stronger communities.
6. Stop using women’s health issues as a political football, like bragging about defunding Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides vital cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection screenings, and birth control to people across the state, including low-income men and women and people who live in rural areas. We should strengthen access to these services.
7. Stop prioritizing campaign donors over our natural resources. Instead of running clean energy businesses out of state, make Wisconsin a leader in clean energy again. Restore the DNR to a nonpartisan, evidence-based agency that is governed by science, not politics. Fund our state parks and our recycling programs, and return control of shoreland zoning standards to local governments.
8. Strengthen voting access instead of eroding voters' rights. Restore weekend voting hours and implement automatic voter registration.
9. Reform government so that it truly works for everyone, not just out-of-state billionaires. Voters should choose their representatives — not the other way around. Commit to campaign finance reform and to ending dark money's influence in politics.
10. Unite us around our shared love of Wisconsin. We love the Packers, our thousands of lakes, our Friday night fish fries, and our families. We unite around our hard work ethic and our pride in our state and our people. Instead of a “divide and conquer” agenda, let’s work on one that unites us and addresses our shared challenges.
While I'm disappointed that the governor has put his own personal ambitions above the people of this state, he can do right by us by taking a look at this list and approaching these ideas in good faith. It's time to have a government that represents everyone and an economy that works for everyone. Democrats are supporting the people’s agenda by championing these issues in the Legislature — we invite the governor and legislative Republicans to join us.
Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, is assistant minority leader in the Wisconsin Assembly.
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