Official Government Communication

Week of Apr. 14-20

Dear Friend,

There is a lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to assist you, please feel free to contact us.

Here to serve,      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District


Possible Changes to St. Joe's Monday morning, I joined Milwaukee legislators and the leadership team from Ascension Health to discuss plans to downsize the Wheaton Franciscan - St. Joseph Campus.  I know many in the community have been concerned about proposed changes in the services offered by the hospital.  St. Joe’s as the hospital is commonly called, has become what many call a “safety net” hospital due to the large number of low income residents the facility serves.  While it can’t be ignored that St. Joe’s has lost a reported $100 million in the last 6 years, the location’s emergency room averages 75,000 patient visits per year has 50 to 60 medical and surgical inpatients a day. Their initial proposal, among other services, would have stopped surgical services, but continued operating the emergency department.  

One aspect of Ascension’s plan would have allowed agencies to use available space at the hospital as a base to help address socio-economic determinants of health, such as housing, education, safety and jobs, in the surrounding community.  One of the policy initiatives that I have been working on in my office, LOVE & FAITH, is based on the creation of hubs, similar to the concept explored by Ascension.  People should be able to go to one location, whenever possible, to get needs addressed.  As opposed to organizations working in silos, there is an opportunity to bring all of the resources to a central location and more effectively meet the needs of residents. As of now, Ascension has halted their plans to alter services at the St. Joe’s campus.  The community must be engaged, as they work to retain key services and facilities in this neighborhood.   I look forward to continuing the conversation and working towards a solution that meets the needs of all impacted, as much as is feasible.  


Fiscal Irresponsibility Highlight Joint Committee on Finance Work Wednesday, the Joint Finance Committee met to vote on a number of state agency budget and project requests.  As a committee, we took up items to include the University of Wisconsin plan to divide $26 million in outcome-based funding, to reallocate a little over $7 million to the Department of Corrections (DOC) because of budget shortfalls, and a number of other issues.  In terms of DOC, they cited higher than expected healthcare costs, aging inmates, and nursing staffing shortages, as some the contributing factors to their overdrafts.  It is because of policies enacted by the state to include mandatory minimum sentencing that we are seeing longer prison terms, aging inmate populations, and increased corrections costs.

Of particular significance to me, was the vote along party lines to approve the Walker administration's plan to address $76.1 million in unsupported overdrafts.  It is absolutely frustrating to watch the continued lack of fiscal irresponsibility exhibited in some of these decisions. Whether we were looking at updates to information systems, or any of the other nine appropriations that were all carrying negative balances, what was clear is that the Governor actually had no plan to correct most of these deficiencies.  Many of these overdrafts have accumulated over several years, each year we are told there is a “plan”, and yet the overdrafts continue.  The Walker administration found $120 million dollars to provide a child tax credit ahead of November elections.  Yet, we didn’t have the money to pay our existing bills.  We couldn’t run our household in this way and it definitely is no way to run the state’s finances. 



Exposing the lead in the water town hall meeting attended an emergency town hall meeting, hosted by the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC). FLAC has conducted extensive research and met with Milwaukee government and academic leaders in order to understand and grasp the complexities and seriousness of lead service lines affecting over 70,000 homes and businesses in Milwaukee.  They have also done a lot to mobilize residents to take an active interest and stake in ensuring access to safe water for drinking and essential household functions. 

We heard from Melissa Mays, one of the leading organizers who responded to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Ms. Mays shared her experiences dealing with the municipal, state, and even federal government as she worked to secure the corrective actions needed to ensure anyone who was harmed by water contamination got their due.  I have compared the lead lateral pipes in Milwaukee’s infrastructure to the Flint water crisis in the past, and listening to the overt disregard or slow response to insuring safe drinking water for Flint residents hits close to home. We do have a health crisis in Milwaukee that remains unresolved. It is also easy to react slowly to evidence that water is unsafe when it looks and tastes the same as always. However, the levels of lead found in Milwaukee’s children is unacceptable. I appreciated Ms. May’s perspective and it reinforced my sense of urgency on this issue.

WV, OK, KY and Wisconsin Teacher Frustration the country, teachers, parents, students and communities are putting school boards and legislators on notice; you can’t keep taking them for granted. In Republican dominated states like West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, laws prevent teachers unions from taking fees from members, and thus being able to equip themselves with needed resources to effectively negotiate for benefits and fair compensation packages. As a result, a rash of rallies, protests and marches have taken place around the country.  West Virginia led the way with a 9-day walk-out in February that shut down every public school in the state.  Parents of over 270,000 kids simultaneously supported the strikers.

As educators and supporters in Oklahoma are entering their third week of protests, the demands are for both teachers and the students they serve.  The strikes are about wages, benefits, “right to work laws”, union busting, but also demands for new textbooks and additional courses. Wisconsin may not be far behind.  Milwaukee teachers showed up to a school board meeting last week to protest potential budget cuts that would reduce health benefits for teachers. The meetings went well into the night and got pretty contentious.  Teachers leading these movements around the nation aren’t union leaders or life-long activists.  They’re hard working people who have used social media to organize and demand action from Republicans that have increasingly taken their profession and contributions for granted. I support their fight for respect, fair pay and benefits, and for the resources needed to educate this country’s youth.  

Kids in Crisis health has long been an area that I believe deserves more attention and resources.  I was pleased to learn that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have come together to organize a series of events called Kids in Crisis. Each event is meant to help de-stigmatize the mental health problems facing young people by giving them a platform to share their experiences. Both those dealing with mental health issues and people affected by their struggle, can speak to the affect it has on their lives. I think the events are a great chance for the community to uplift and connect with those who must struggle with a mental health issue every day while also dealing with the rest of life’s stresses. 

According to NAMI, nearly 1 in 25 adults in the U.S live with serious mental illness, and one half those adults show symptoms of the illness by the age of 14. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10-24. We as the community around those with a mental illness must show our support in any way we can. Studies have shown that, in particular, African Americans and Hispanic Americans use mental health service at about one half the rate of whites in the year. This is a gap that should not exist for any demographic. I am thankful that the Journal Sentinel and NAMI are providing these opportunities to connect the community and those struggling with mental illness, and I encourage everyone who can to attend an event.


Intern Spotlight Balan is a junior English Literature and Communication Arts double major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She came to Madison for her undergraduate studies because she loves the atmosphere of the city, and it isn’t so far away that she can’t get back home to the Chicagoland area for some of Mom’s cooking. After she graduates, she plans on going to law school so she can find a career in health or international law. Sandy wanted to work in Senator Taylor’s office for the chance to do meaningful work on justice and education reform. In addition to having the same legislative priorities as Senator Taylor, she wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at how Senator Taylor goes about making change in the Milwaukee community. Her biggest take away from that look is how much work goes into running a legislative office, from the constant need to be in touch with constituents in a variety of ways, to the unending research and prep that goes into drafting legislation. Sandy said she is now considering a career in politics after school. Drafting legislative update stories and working with the staff in the office has been her favorite part of her internship.








Events and Opportunities


Earth Day of Service at Riverside Park

   Saturday, April 21st    9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Urban Ecology Center-Riverside park
1500 E. Park Place, Milwaukee, WI 53211


For more info


23rd Annual Milwaukee Riverkeeper Spring Clean-Up


Saturday, April 21st
9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Milwaukee River Basin

For more info



Trash Full Circle


Sunday, April 22nd
10:30 am - 1:00 pm


Discovery World

500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202


For more info




Community Health Fair

Friday, April 27th
4:30 pm – 7:00 pm

COA Goldin Center
2320 W. Burleigh St. Milwaukee, WI 53206


For more info


Laughing Lunch

Tuesday, April 24th
11:30 am - 1:00 pm

88Nine Radio
220 East Pittsburgh
Milwaukee, WI 53204

For more info








 Quote of the Week:

"Dream big dreams."

-Vel Phillips, Wisconsin Civil Rights pioneer and former Secretary of State


This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.

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