Political Digest

By The Northwoods River


Grothman votes to prevent taxpayer funding of abortions

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Glenbeulah) voted last week in favor of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of which he is a co-sponsor. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 238-183.

Right now, Grothman says, the Hyde amendment prevents taxpayer dollars from being used for abortions in certain government programs like Medicaid. However, the Hyde amendment only protects against certain funds from being used to cover abortions and must be renewed every year.

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would make the Hyde Amendment permanent and place a government-wide ban on taxpayer funding for abortion. It would ensure that the Affordable Care Act adheres to the Hyde Amendment - something Grothman says it currently does not have to do - as Congress works to repeal and replace the health-care law.

"President Trump's first week in office has been a victory for the pro-life movement," said Grothman. "Earlier this week, the president reinstated the Mexico City Policy to prevent U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding abortions in other countries. I'm glad President Trump was ready to go with this executive action the same week as the March for Life, and it just reaffirms his fitness for office to those who voted for him in November."

With House passage of the bill, Grothman said Congress is one step closer to preventing taxpayers from having to foot the bill for Obamacare plans that cover abortions.

"We're working to shift the focus of women's health care away from abortion and toward medical care that protects both women and unborn children - work that will continue as Congress plans to defund Planned Parenthood later this session," he said.

WMC: Businesses benefit from Manufacturing Tax Credit

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce is criticizing Democratic opposition to the state's manufacturing and agriculture tax credit, saying it is really a disguised attack on the middle class.

The tax credit has helped more than 10,000 Wisconsin businesses grow and expand family-supporting jobs in the state, the group said. WMC said manufacturing jobs have an average compensation of $68,878 per year, which is 45 percent higher than the state's average income, and many of those jobs could be lost without the credit.

WMC also said Democrats were out of step with Democrats in other states, such as New York, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently reduced the state's manufacturing tax rate to zero.

"The manufacturing and agriculture tax credit has given a boost to family-supporting, middle-class jobs all across our state, and it is imperative that we keep it in place," Scott Manley, WMC's senior vice president of government relations, said. "A Fiscal Bureau memo proves that the credit is working - the projected growth of the credit means that manufacturing production in our state will necessarily grow, too. This is great news for middle-class families."

In the five years before the credit was enacted, Manley said, Wisconsin lost 81,000 manufacturing jobs. In the five years since it was enacted, the state has added 34,000 manufacturing jobs.

"We have stopped the bleeding of family-supporting manufacturing jobs, and we are actually growing them now in our state," he said. "While legislators are trying to paint this as a handout to the top 1 percent, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, 88 percent of the Wisconsin employers that benefit make less than $1 million per year."

Instead, Manley said, the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit benefits small businesses and middle class workers.

"Wisconsin is moving forward, and it is thanks to reforms like the manufacturing and agriculture tax credit," he said. "Instead of penalizing middle-class jobs with higher taxes, Democrat lawmakers should support tax incentives to boost manufacturing jobs like their Democrat counterparts have done in states like New York."

Hesselbein: Walker's tax cuts for the wealthy are costing Wisconsin big time

While WMC supports the manufacturing tax credit, State Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) said a Fiscal Bureau memo actually shows that the tax credit will cost the state $804 million more than originally expected.

"There is no doubt that the system is rigged," Hesselbein said. "The memo shows that the Republicans' regressive tax cut, which millionaires claim with no strings attached, is costing our state big time. Data shows the regressive tax credit is set to be $800 million over budget by the close of the 2017-19 budget period."

The Fiscal Bureau memo shows that more than 75 percent of the individual income tax credits go to individuals making an annual salary of $1 million or more, Hesselbein said. The memo also highlights that $22 million of tax breaks went to 11 individuals who all had annual incomes above $30 million.

"Republicans have slashed funding for our public schools by over $1 billion and cut $565 million from our state's public university system," she said. "Our roadways and infrastructure are crumbling and our technology infrastructure is lagging. With all these problems facing working Wisconsinites, why does the Republican majority continue to support regressive tax giveaways to millionaires?"

Shankland joins students in signing pledge to support the UW System

State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) signed a pledge at UW-Stevens Point last week calling on Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature to fund the UW System's four-year tuition freeze and any future tuition cut.

She signed the pledge at an event hosted by the UW-Stevens Point faculty and academic staff union and the UW-Stevens Point Student Government Association. SGA president John Peralta and union president Andy Felt joined Shankland in signing the pledge.

"Higher education isn't just important for our workforce and our economy - it is the pathway for many of Wisconsin's hard-working men and women to achieve the American Dream," Shankland said. "Investing in our UW System is critical to ensuring that we are training for jobs of the future and ensuring our students' future success."

Yet higher education in Wisconsin is woefully underfunded, Shankland said.

"While most states are reinvesting in colleges and universities, the UW System has lost over $750 million in state aid under Gov. Walker's last three budgets," she said. "UW-Stevens Point has been hit especially hard, with programs like WEEB, WCEE, and WIST slashed in the last budget. UWSP students are experiencing course bottlenecks and some are unable to graduate on time due to these budget cuts."

Shankland said it was time to reinvest in higher education and ensure that everyone who works hard can achieve the American Dream.

"As a member of the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee, I am proud to support funding the tuition freeze and providing state support for the proposed tuition cuts, and I look forward to advocating for our students and universities in the budget," she said.

Senators send letter to Congress on federalism

State Sens. David Craig (R-Vernon) and Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) sent a letter last week to U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, to request relief from federal regulations and unfunded mandates.

"Since 2011, we have continued to reform Wisconsin to the extent federal roadblocks would allow, and the citizens of our state are seeing the benefits," Craig said. "Our economy is strong, unemployment is down, real wages are up, and state government is more efficient, but we can do more. I look forward to working with our federal partners to give power and flexibility back to the states as intended in the constitution."

Craig and Kapenga say the letter cites many of the larger federal programs that spawn increasingly burdensome regulations and unfunded mandates that hamper Wisconsin's economy and stifle the ability of individuals to make better lives for themselves and their families.

In conjunction with the release of the Governor's "Wisconsin Works for Everyone" welfare reform package, they say they are seeking relief from requirements surrounding the administration of public assistance programs.

"Fifty years of fighting poverty demonstrates that the one-size-fits-all approach the federal government takes to reduce poverty does not work," Kapenga said. "As those struggling to make ends meet face unique hurdles, they need innovative and tailored solutions. Underprivileged families will be best served under a federalist approach, in which states are given the latitude to test new ideas and learn from one another how to best address poverty," Kapenga said.

The lawmakers said the letter was sent in response to Chaffetz's request of state leaders across the country to suggest areas where the federal government could be improved to provide states the freedoms they have been continually ceding to an ever-expanding federal government.

"In many ways our hands have been tied by the Feds," the senators said. "We now have an opportunity to see real reforms come out of Washington which would give us the freedom and flexibility to continue Wisconsin's march forward."