February 25, 2016

Republicans Leave Major Priorities Undone

By: Senator Lena Taylor


If I told you that you could stop working two months early and still get your full salary, you’d think that was a pretty good deal, right?

Well then, you should run for the State Assembly. Because last week, Republican Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos pledged the Assembly would be done for the remainder of the legislative session, even though there are still two more months of session on our calendar.

Now, the State Senate has about 200 bills left to decide which we want to pass and which we want to fail. The untold story of what’s not even on the radar is the saddest of all.

Check out the bills Republicans won’t be taking up:

Milwaukee Summer Reading Project – This bill would provide more than $1 million to the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project, which helps struggling kids improve their reading during the summer so they don’t fall behind their classmates at the beginning of the next school year.

Higher Ed, Lower Debt – This bill allows people to refinance their student loans to get the lowest possible interest rate, just like people do with their homes.

Child Care Tax Credit – Creates a tax credit that can be claimed for childcare expenses and provides targeted relief to working families.

BadgerCare Expansion – This bill expands access to affordable health care for thousands of low-income residents while saving taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next six years.

Made in America Act – Requires state and local projects to use materials made in the US when possible.

Instead of solving the real problems affecting Wisconsin’s families, this is what the Republicans are choosing to focus on instead:

Sanctuary Cities bill – This bill would let local governments allow law enforcement to ask people about their immigration status once they’ve been charged with a crime. This and other legislation led approximately 20,000 people to march on the Capitol as part of the “Day without Latinos” recently. It seems to me our law enforcement has enough challenges without having to enforce federal immigration laws.

Republican College “Affordability” package – Republicans released a series of six bills that they say will make college more affordable. Not a single bill touches tuition affordability and none of them address in any real way the widespread student loan debt facing Wisconsinites. The price tag for this package is about $10 million.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s – The Assembly has passed a series of about ten dementia and Alzheimer bills, including more funding for research, respite care and dementia care specialists and other items. The entire package would cost $3.6 million.

Photo ID’s on FoodShare Cards – This bill would require your photo to appear on your FoodShare card. This is yet another bill in the GOP’s bizarre fascination with requiring low-income people to haul themselves to a government office somewhere to get their picture taken. The bill is expected to cost $1.3 million. Instead of using this money to expand food access, Republicans plan to spend it on photo ops.  

High-capacity well deregulation – Do you like good clean drinking water? So do I. But there’s a bill before the Senate that could dramatically change the rules for how we operate high-capacity wells. Well water isn’t infinite. Frankly, we only get what God gives us and when you drain your well, it could literally make your neighbor’s well run dry too. But this bill doesn’t even take that into consideration.

Requiring the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association subject to public records law – I’m all for the public’s right to know what government is doing. But is this really going to be our priority on our last session day when we have so many more important topics to solve?

If you are anything like me, you want the Assembly and Senate to stay and get our job done. Milwaukee families deserve solutions to the problems plaguing our community.

Even after the Senate closes down for the session, I want you to know I’m still here working for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 414-342-7176 or email me at sen.taylor@legis.wi.gov. You can also connect with me online at www.LenaTaylor.org.

Madison Office - 608-266-5810

Room 5, South Wing
State Capitol , P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882