March 29, 2012
neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost
importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and
your family are listed below.
Lighthouse Egg Hunt
Easter at the
Join neighbors at the St. Francis Public Library for this fun-filled
event. There will be spring themed arts and crafts, Bunny Bingo, and a
special visit from the Easter Bunny. The event is free to the public.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 481-7323 for additional information.
Used Book Sale at
Golda Meir Library (MAP)
2311 E. Hartford Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211
South Shore Half Marathon
Date: Sat., April 7 at 8:30 a.m.
Location: Bay View
Description: Whether you are an avid runner or new to the world of half marathons, feel free to participate in the annual South Shore Half Marathon. Not interested in running, stop by anyways to cheer on our family, friends, and neighbors. The race is 13.1 miles and starts and ends at South Shore Park in Bay View. Cost is $12 per person for those that pre-register or $20 per person on race day. Pre-registration ends on March 30. Race time is 8:30 a.m., with registration starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 8:10 a.m. CLICK HERE for more information or to register online.
South Shore Park (MAP)
Murray Hill Spring Eggstravaganza
Date: Sat., April 7 at 9 a.m.
Description: Mark your calendar for the 8th Annual Eggstravaganza. This family-friendly event will be held in the children's play area of Riverside Park. Several thousand eggs will be hidden for the hunt, including traditional colored eggs, plastic eggs filled with candy, and special ceramic and paper mache eggs made by local artists. All are welcome to join the fun. Be sure to bring your baskets and cameras. This event is sponsored by the Murray Hill Neighborhood Association, Murray Hill Pottery Works, and the Upper East Side Business Improvement District. Help from neighbors is also needed before the big event. Stop by Murray Hill Pottery (2456 N. Murray Avenue) by noon on Friday March 30th to pick up eggs and assist with coloring them. Eggs will be in the entry way with a sign-out sheet. The dyed eggs are needed back for hiding by Friday, April 6 at 8 p.m. Not available to help color the eggs, but still want to help out? Show up at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 7 to help hide the eggs. CLICK HERE to view the flyer for this event or call Cynthia Sommer at (414) 962-7076 for more information.
Riverside Park (MAP)
1500 E. Riverside Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211
West Side Story
Family Night at South Milwaukee Library
Tues., April 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.
This week we review the events of the recently concluded 2011-2012 Legislative Session. Also, please remember to exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, April 3.
As usual, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns or opinions you may have about our community or our state.
Larson Report Update
The Legislature has concluded it 2011-2012 session. In anticipation of fewer legislative obligations in the Capitol, Representatives and Senators will be spending more time in their local community and less time in their Madison offices.
Because of these changes, I will be altering the distribution of the Larson Report. Beginning this week, the Larson Report will be sent out every other week, rather than every Thursday. These biweekly reports will continue to keep you apprised of local events, provide timely news updates, answer some of the most frequent questions asked by neighbors, and include interesting information about our community and state.
In addition to providing you with a newsletter every other week, I will periodically send out email updates when important issue arise. The normal weekly distribution will resume when legislative activities pick up again in November.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions about these temporary changes.
Legislative Session Sends Wisconsin, Our Community Backwards
The 2011-2012 Legislative Session will go down in our state history books as the most divisive and dishonest legislative session ever. Rather than focusing on job creation and economic growth, those in control used their power to push a backwards, ideological agenda that neglects the needs of our family, friends, and neighbors.
Below we will take an in-depth look at just how our community and state have been harmed by the Walker administration's radical policies and devastating cuts in the areas of jobs, education, health care, public transit, the environment, accountability and transparency, and taxes and investment in our communities.
JOBS & ECONOMY
Although Governor Walker and
Republican legislators promised to focus on jobs this session, they
utterly failed to follow through. The numbers do not lie. While the
nation has added jobs every month for 17 straight months and neighboring
states all posted job gains this past year, Wisconsin fell tragically
behind under Governor Walker's leadership. A new nationwide report
released by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Wisconsin lost
12,500 jobs from January 2011 to January 2012, more than any other state
over the past year. In fact, Wisconsin is one of only six states to lose
jobs in the past year, and our job losses are more than three times
higher than the next state on that unfortunate list.
Unfortunately, this session has also been about picking winners and losers. In order to help the big corporations and special interests further their backwards agenda, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have sacrificed Wisconsin’s jobless, children, and women by choosing:
We need to get Wisconsin moving in the right direction with the rest of the nation. Unfortunately, the job-killing policies implemented by Governor Walker and Republican legislators this legislative session will do nothing to help our state out of this crisis.
for our children's education was put on the back burner during this
legislative session as funding from our neighborhood schools was slashed
in order to give away these taxpayer dollars to special interests and
corporations. Under the Republican budget approximately $1.6 billion was
stripped from education statewide. These decimating cuts hit some
communities harder than others and have been especially detrimental to
children in Milwaukee and the surrounding area. To see how much our
children's education and the funding for neighborhood schools were cut
in the budget, according to the Department of Public Instruction and the
Legislative Fiscal Bureau, please see the chart below:
Similar results can also be seen right here in our own community. Here is how Milwaukee County's 18 school districts have been negatively impacted by Governor Walker's sweeping education cuts:
Legislation passed this session also expanded the voucher program in Milwaukee to allow private schools outside Milwaukee to participate, while removing all enrollment caps on the program and raising the income limits on participants. Under these changes, Milwaukee Public Schools will be forced to funnel 22.6% of its tax levy into the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, leaving City of Milwaukee taxpayers on the hook for $55.4 million. In truth, Milwaukee taxpayers are now being billed for both the largest school district in the state, Milwaukee Public Schools, AND the fourth largest, which is what the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has grown to be with 22,400 students.
There were additional giveaways to the
voucher lobbyists this session, as they convinced Republican legislators
to create greater accountability and transparency measures in our public
schools, while excluding voucher schools from those very same
requirements. One example of this was the passage of Senate Bill 461.
This legislation was supposed to increase our children's reading test
scores, forge more effective educators, and enhance school
accountability. However, when everything was said and done, voucher
schools were exempted from following the provisions recommended by the
School Accountability Task Force.
Currently, about one out of five
Wisconsin residents rely on Medicaid programs, for their health care
needs. The number of individuals enrolled in the state's Medicaid
programs has been steadily increasing in recent years due to the ongoing
recession and increased health care costs, making it one of the worst
times to consider chopping away at our health safety net.
The Governor continued his extreme
agenda announcing an additional $554 million in cuts this past October.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has estimated that almost
23,000 Wisconsinites will lose their current BadgerCare health care
coverage. A group that will be disproportionately affected by these
additional Medicaid cuts are people suffering from chronic illnesses,
such as cancer and heart disease. Chronic and life-threatening illnesses
often leave individuals unable to work, causing them to exhaust their
lifesavings and unable to cover their medical expenses without the use
This legislative session also sent our
state backwards on the issue of gender equality by curtailing the rights
of women, particularly regarding their reproductive health. Such
initiatives included interfering with doctor-patient relationships,
obstructing access to contraception created under the Affordable Care
Act, and eliminating funding for comprehensive women's health centers
that provide vital services, including pap smears and mammograms.
Massive highway expansion projects were highly prioritized this session over repairing our local roads and investing in our public transit infrastructure. This assault began with the rejection of $800 million in federal funds to create jobs and a high speed rail option connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and additional communities.
The attack continued with the
elimination of the new Regional Transit Authorities and extensive cuts
to public transit in Governor Walker's budget. According to a recent
study by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, Wisconsin
taxpayers are footing roughly $2 billion to fund questionable and
unnecessary transportation projects in the budget rather than putting
those funds towards local roads and public transit. In addition to a
loss of $77 million in shared revenue, the following communities saw
cuts to state transportation funds in the amounts listed below:
As a result, local governments have
been forced to shift funding, raise fares, change or eliminate routes,
and reduce vital services. Many of these changes were seen by riders in
our own community. On January 1 of this year, the Milwaukee County
Transit System was forced to increase fares for TransitPlus users by 75
cents, raising the cost of each bus ticket to $4. The system also had to
eliminate some bus services.
The goal as a steward of the environment is to leave a place cleaner than when you arrived. Unfortunately, this legislative session did nothing to improve or protect our environment. This year, Governor Walker and Republican legislators pushed an agenda that has left our state's natural resources vulnerable. Many of these changes were instituted under the most recent budget, including:
This agenda to place polluters over people continued with the passage of Senate Bill 326, legislation that undoes important environmental protections that keep our air clean and our water safe for drinking and recreation. The following concerns can be found in this environmentally harmful legislation that threatens our natural resources and families by:
There is an undeniable link between a healthy environment and sustainable economic growth. Therefore, we should not allow polluters to bully us into making a false choice between conservation and economic growth.
ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY
One common theme during this legislative session was a call by Wisconsinites for a more open and transparent government as a result of the secrecy tactics employed by Governor Walker and Republican legislators. This session our neighbors saw public hearings on controversial bills abruptly halted before citizens were able to speak, Open Meetings Laws violated, the public and legislators locked out of the Capitol, rights to free speech and assembly restricted, secrecy pacts signed by Republican legislators, unconstitutional maps signed into law, and an on-going John Doe investigation that involves a growing number of Governor Walker's friends and staff.
As a result of these troubling events, I remained dedicated this session to reversing this trend and return our state back to its tradition of good government. I authored and supported a number of legislative initiatives aimed at increasing accountability and transparency. Below is a list of just a few of these that would have helped get Wisconsin moving in the right direction:
Unfortunately, these efforts were rejected by Governor Walker and Republicans who spent the legislative session attacking our existing common sense open government protections. The first round of blows came from a special session allowing them to fast-track damaging bills. The following are just some of the bills authored and passed by Republican legislators during that session, reversing Wisconsin's progress in ensuring open government:
Following these bills, Governor Walker and Republican legislators continued to send Wisconsin in the wrong direction by pushing through the Republican budget, which was brimming with special interest giveaways, sneaking nearly 80 non-fiscal policy items into what was promised to be a purely fiscal document. The following provisions are some of the most egregious:
My Democratic colleagues and I introduced amendments to remove such backwards provisions from the budget in order to ensure Wisconsin maintains its tradition of clean, open and transparent government. Unfortunately, Republicans voted down these amendments with little consideration for Wisconsin’s traditions. No matter which party is in control, we need more accountability and transparency, not less.
TAXES & SPENDING
During this legislative session, promises were broken yet again by Governor Walker and Republican legislators who increased taxes and spending on Wisconsin's middle-class families in order to fund favors to CEOs and special interests. The Republican budget included the following fiscally irresponsible provisions:
These provisions were added to the budget as Governor Walker chose special interests over people by creating a $196 million corporate slush fund and providing $2.3 billion in tax giveaways for special interests.
Remember to Vote on Tuesday
Wisconsin's Spring Primary Election is this Tuesday, April 3. The polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Wisconsin residents may register on Election Day at their polling location. Given the recent injunction on Wisconsin's law requiring voters to present a valid photo ID, you should not be expected to present an ID at the polls.
Click here for additional information on registration and voting
procedures in Wisconsin.
WisconsinEye Now Available Through Time Warner
Earlier this week, WisconsinEye announced that its programming will be made available to digital customers of Time Warner Cable on Channel 363 at no additional cost. WisconsinEye has already been made available to Charter Communications cable customers on digital Channel 995.
WisconsinEye provides the public with
unfiltered access to committee meetings, public hearings, session days,
and other government activities allowing the public to view legislative
debate and policy-making without editing, commentary or analysis.
I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
Q: Why don't you talk about the recall elections in your Email newsletter?
A: Questions about a specific campaign or a particular candidate need to be addressed outside of my official duties as Senator. State laws and Senate policies are pretty clear that something like my E-newsletter, which is sent from my state office, needs to steer clear of electoral politics. On the other hand, if you have questions about voting procedures or campaign laws in Wisconsin, these questions can be handled through my Capitol office.
If you have any questions regarding Wisconsin statutes and ethics guidelines that require the separation of political activity and state business, please do not hesitate to contact me. Additional information about this issue has also been made available by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Their contact information is provided below:
Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
General Phone: (608) 266-8005
Toll-free Phone: 1-866-VOTE-WIS
Mailing Address: Government
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: (608) 267-0500
Did You Know...
you know that Wisconsin's name is of Native American origin? According
to documents at the Wisconsin Historical Society, our state is said to
have derived its name from its largest river, "Wees-kon-san," which
means "gathering of the water."
Federal Budget Process Has Begun
The arduous and often contentious federal budgeting process has begun. A few weeks ago, President Obama submitted his budget proposal. His budget has since been processed by the Congressional Budget Office and an accurate analysis of the proposed budget, including cuts and increases in spending, has been created.
Click here to view this analysis.
Additionally, if you would like to contact Wisconsin State Senators Herb Kohl and Ron Johnson about this issue, please see their contact information listed below:
Senator Herb Kohl
310 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Phone: (414) 297-4451
2 Russell Courtyard
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5323
IDs for Voting Temporarily on Hold
Dane County Circuit Court issued an injunction against 2011 Wisconsin
Act 23, a newly implemented law
requiring voters to show a valid ID for voting purposes. As a
result, this law will temporarily be suspended and voters will not be
required to show and ID when voting for the time being, including in the
upcoming April elections. This ruling, however, is subject to change based on
pending challenges to Judge Flanagan’s ruling in the Wisconsin Court of
Neighborhood Survey Available
I created a survey asking about various issues that are
important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is
I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!
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