Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might
Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
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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.
Milwaukee Fringe Festival
Date: Saturday, August 27 to Sunday, August 28, 12 p.m. to 10
Description: Following the rich tradition of Fringe Festivals,
the Milwaukee Fringe Festival is a showcase of a diverse collection of
artists that call Milwaukee home. From theatrical actors to painters,
musicians to tap dancers, performance artists to playwrights, MKE Fringe
is a joyous celebration of what makes Milwaukee’s culture vibrant and
extraordinary. Visitors will have the pleasure of experiencing theater,
music, visual art, dance, and performance art
CLICK HERE for more information.
Pere Marquette Park
900 N. Plankinton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Historical Society Canopy Talk
Date: Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Join us at the South Milwaukee Historical Society
for a short presentation on the Lawson Airline by Steve Schreiter. All
Canopy Talks are held outside in good weather. This is a free event.
South Milwaukee Historical Museum
717 Milwaukee Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172
3rd Annual Lagoon Festival
Date: Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Come on down to Market Square and enjoy a day of
classic cars/bikes, silent auction, live music, vendors, food, drinks,
tie dye your own shirts, a kids corner and much more! Kid's Corner
includes: Face Painting, Crafts, Coloring contest, Sidewalk Chalk Art,
Games, Watermelon Dave, "The Black Smith" is back to show you how
everyday items were made by our ancestors. This fundraiser is to help
raise funds to restore the South Milwaukee Lagoon.
CLICK HERE for more information.
11th & Milwaukee Ave South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Meeting on Civil Rights and Hate Crimes
Date: Monday, August 29 from 1 p.m. to 4:30 pm
Location: West Allis
Description: The Wisconsin Advisory Committee (WAC) will be
holding a public meeting regarding civil rights and hate crimes in
Wisconsin. The event will also feature speakers from the Hmong community
who will discuss the impact of the Hmong hunter incidents of the past
few years and how to combat future hate crimes like these.
For more information, CLICK HERE.
Hampton Inn & Suites
8201 W Greenfield Ave.
West Allis, WI 53214
Bay View Art in the Park
Date: Saturday, September 10
Location: Bay View
Description: Bay View Art in the Park provides free fine arts
events and live music for the whole family. The festival celebrates
local artists and helps create connections to their community. BVAP will
also have a free art workshop for children.
Click HERE for more information.
3000 S Howell Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207
Simply Swing: Chris Mariani and the Radio Rosies with Swing Explosion
Date: Friday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Chris Mariani's sound stylishly blends early 40's
Romance with late 50's Swing, meticulously crafted and enriched with an
influence that is exclusively, Chris Mariani. Be drawn back in time as
Chris is joined by the pure, sweet harmonies of The Radio Rosies, a
three-part harmony vocal trio, and accompanied by Swing Explosion, an
18-piece Midwest big band.
CLICK HERE for more information.
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
901 15th Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
I hope you've had time to enjoy an end-of- summer vacation and hope the
ideas we listed in the last newsletter were helpful.
Already, children across Wisconsin are returning to school. As a parent,
I have felt firsthand the joys of watching my kids learn, grow, and
overcome challenges. It’s a great time to remember that having an equal
opportunity and access to a quality education are cornerstone American
principles, because we all believe that every child should have the
freedom to live a successful life.
For this week's Larson Report, we’re focusing on what we can do to
ensure a quality education for every child and the legislative
opportunities we as a state can pursue. It’s amazing what we could
accomplish if we had this as a priority. We also have a few legislative
updates since the last time we wrote.
Additionally, Labor Day is fast-approaching and communities across the
state will be celebrating in their own way. Below you will find
celebrations going on in the 7th Senate District.
State Senator, District 7
quality education for all Wisconsin children is one of the strongest
core values that we all share. Under Governor Walker, we've seen our
investment in this deeply held belief crumble. The future of Wisconsin
is on the line as Republicans have intentionally underfunded our
neighborhood schools in favor of tax breaks for corporations and handing
over public money to unaccountable, for-profit voucher schools. We
must re-invest in our shared value of educational opportunity for all of
our kids by creating innovative pathways to help ensure a brighter
future for Wisconsin's children.
Recently, in response to an
information request from my colleague, Sen. Bewley, the nonpartisan
Legislative Fiscal Bureau released a memo that shows the dire situation
our neighborhood public schools face due to the majority of our
districts having their state general aid investments cut below 2010
levels. For instance, our Milwaukee schools struggled to make due
after seeing $43 million less in general school aid last school year
than in the school year before Walker took office.
See the memo, here.
In a recent op-ed published in the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Alan Borsuk of Marquette University
Law School, echoed the concern that our schools are starved for vital
resources as a result of the misplaced priorities of the governor and
However, Borsuk was also careful to remind us of some of the positives
that parents and students have to look forward to as they gear up for
the upcoming school year, including the dedication and hard work of
Here's a section of the op-ed:
"...Teachers. The very large majority work hard (if you think
otherwise, you're wrong). They're dedicated, they care, and they’re deep
into preparations to bring their best to their students this year. The
better they do, the better their students will do. We need them. We
should respect them more than we do. And we should send them back to
school with up-arrows that show our support."
Read the full op-ed, here.
Milwaukee Community Unites for
Compounding the intentional disinvestment in education, legislative
Republicans and other community leaders orchestrated a complete seizure
of certain schools in our communities. This takeover of Milwaukee
Public Schools (MPS) was met with harsh criticism from parents,
educators, and locally elected school board members.
Local control is at the bedrock of
Wisconsin's educational system. Our neighbors elect local school boards
who are entrusted with the management and success of their districts.
Our locally elected school boards were set up in such a way to encourage
community input and to give a voice to those benefiting from our public
Those who pushed the MPS Takeover scheme sought to erode local control
of our public schools and diminish the power of our democratically
elected school board, leaving our neighbors without a voice in the
affairs of their neighborhood schools.
However, those who care about
our neighborhood schools and the future of our children mobilized
efforts to push back against the MPS Takeover. They organized school
sit-ins, wrote their legislators, and raised awareness about the issue.
Their efforts resulted in the resignation of the unelected commissioner,
appointed by the Milwaukee county executive, who was charged with
implementing the MPS Takeover scheme.
The commissioner's resignation came
just before his statutory deadline to select at least one MPS school to
be taken over.
Because the commissioner failed to
implement a plan of action by the deadline, the MPS Takeover will not be
implemented for this school year. Now, the county executive must appoint
a new commissioner to implement the plan next year. Under state law,
taking over any schools in the 2nd year of implementation is completely
optional, and I will continue to work with the community to ensure we
keep our neighborhood schools intact and strong.
some legislative Republicans seem eager to punish our neighbors who took
a stand against the hostile takeover of MPS schools. In fact, just a day
after the resignation of the Takeover commissioner, Senate Republican
leaders threatened that the Republican-controlled Legislature could
further disinvest in the future of our children by slashing even more
resources from Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). If Republicans were
serious about offering students a quality education, they would not
attempt to take away the voice of the community and then retaliate
against them when things don't go their way.
A Progressive Vision for our Schools
Instead of playing politics with the future of our children, we have an
opportunity to strengthen our education system and provide more support
to students. As the lead Democratic member of the Senate Committee on
Education last session, I had an opportunity to meet with educators,
experts, other legislators, and advocates in order to come up with
legislation that puts our kids on the road to opportunity and
prosperity. I look forward to supporting these ideas when the next
legislative session begins in January 2017, and look forward to hearing
from my Wisconsin neighbors about other ideas they have. Some of the
legislative ideas are discussed below.
Repealing the MPS Takeover
The answer to making sure all of our public schools are able to provide
a quality education in Milwaukee is not to take control away from the
community, but to empower them in every way possible to ensure the
success of our children. Our neighbors have made it clear they do not
want a takeover of MPS schools.
Implementing a "Community
Many schools targeted by the MPS Takeover plan are schools in
neighborhoods where families struggle with unemployment, poverty, gun
violence, and high infant mortality. Republicans have failed to invest
in the services these kids and their families desperately need and have
neglected programming that is proven to be beneficial in supporting
struggling families and bolstering student performance.
The community schools model
takes a wraparound approach, which allows for more comprehensive,
individualized services for students, such as academic support and
enrichment activities, including expanded learning time and summer or
after school enrichment and learning experiences; programs that promote
parental involvement and family literacy; job training, internship
opportunities, and career counseling services; and health services,
including primary health, services by a school nurse, dental care,
mental health counseling, and nutrition services.
the bill introduced last session, community schools would also provide
professional development for school administrators, teachers, and
educational support professionals. If we want all of our students to
succeed, it is critical that students are provided a well-rounded
curriculum by professional teachers who are able to offer individualized
Further, it is crucial that our children have a safe environment and are
physically and emotionally prepared to learn. If a student is struggling
with homelessness or a severe toothache, they cannot fully thrive in
school. Through the holistic approach of community schools, our
schools will have the tools to address the complex range of factors that
contribute to student learning.
The Milwaukee community has already shown a keen interest in adopting
the community schools approach. MPS, in partnership with United Way of
Greater Milwaukee, recently announced that two additional schools will
transition into being a community school. I'm proud of our Milwaukee
neighbors who have worked hard to ensure all of our students have a
bright future, not just a select few, and look forward to working with
my legislative colleagues to provide state support for these
Read more about the community schools announcement, here.
Equal Opportunities Start with
Not only must we take a
comprehensive, individualized look at our students and create school
environments that will help them reach their full potential, we also
must address inequities in the way we invest in our students. "Why is
my child worth less than yours?" is a question that many Wisconsin
parents find themselves asking.
The current funding formula, created in 1993, for public schools was
poorly crafted in a way that has created inequity between low and high
revenue school districts, creating an unequal educational experience.
Low revenue districts have less resources to provide competitive teacher
compensation or advanced classes for students. Overall, the state is not
offering the same educational opportunities for each student.
By equally investing in our
students, we can achieve greater access to an equal, quality education.
Further, our local communities recognize the inequities currently
occurring in our neighborhoods. I have met with education leaders in
South Milwaukee, St. Francis, and Milwaukee school districts who all
want the state Legislature to act and correct the way we are investing
in our students. In fact both South Milwaukee and St. Francis school
boards have passed resolutions asking for funding fairness.
I look forward to continuing to
work my neighbors and colleagues in introducing a bill that will invest
in our students across the state equally. The quality of your school
should not depend on your geographic location, and fixing this
reality should be a priority for state leaders.
Special Education Restoration
Last session, I introduced the Special Education Restoration Act to
fairly reimburse school districts for providing special education to
students. State aid that supports the education of students with
disabilities has remained frozen since the 2008-2009 school year, but
the cost to provide this education has continued to rise. This results
in a continuing slide in reimbursement rates for special education costs
that school districts incur and forces our already underfunded schools
to spread their resources dangerously thin to try and accommodate all of
the students in the district. For instance, they may have to have one
nurse be responsible for several schools. This is problematic, because
some students require medications be administered multiple times a day.
The thinner vital school staff are spread, the more likely important
student needs may not be met. In the very first year reimbursement
rates were established, 1980, school districts were reimbursed at a rate
of 66.1%. In the 1999-2000 school year, reimbursement rates were 34.3%.
For the 2014-15 school year, the rate fell to just 26.8% of costs. We
have an obligation to educate all students, including those with
When the state share of this responsibility is held flat or shrinks, the
burden to make up the costs land on our local property taxpayers and
takes resources away from other students. This puts schools in an unfair
situation as they may need to decide to cut down on services offered to
students with special needs in order to offer other programs or services
to the student majority. For example, a school may have to let go of
their speech pathologist in order to maintain their football program.
The Special Education Restoration Act would give schools their fair
share of funding by bringing us back to reimbursing districts at a very
Ensuring the Safety of Students
Wisconsin Democratic senators will continue to work hard this upcoming
session to fight for our students and schools. Last session, Democrats
and Republicans were able to come together in order to pass bipartisan
legislation to keep students safer when getting on and off school
The new law is now in effect and
ensures drivers behind school buses have adequate warning before a bus
slows to a stop by requiring the use of amber lights to notify drivers
that a school bus is slowing down to pick up or let children off the
School busses made since 2005 now need to have amber lights activated by
the driver 300 feet from a stop on roads where the speed limit is 45
miles per hour or greater, and 100 feet from a stop on roads where the
speed limit is less than 45 miles per hour. Older school buses are
required to have red lights activated by the driver at least 100 feet
prior to the bus stopping.
As we discussed in a recent Larson
Report, in order to promote healthy, prosperous families as well as
educational success, early education and affordable childcare must be
part of the equation. Investing in early development offers the best
return on our investment. In fact, for every $1 we invest in early
childhood, we see $7 in savings. Full-time 4K can offer great, long-term
benefits to children. According to the Human Capital Research
Collaborative at the University of Minnesota, children in full-day
preschool programs scored higher on school readiness indicators and had
better attendance than did peers in part-time programs.
Read more about investing in early childcare in this Larson Report
In addition to investing in our
young children, we must refocus our efforts in the education of our
last Republican state budget imposed a $250 million cut from public
universities. Our renowned UW System has suffered from the combination
of budget cuts, loss of tenure, and changes to shared governance. As a
result, top university professors have opted to leave the UW and pursue
positions at other institutions. For example, Professor Amy Ellis left
her position at UW-Madison last spring stating, "I could be anywhere,
and up until now I chose to stay in Wisconsin, but I no longer feel it
is worth it to give my talent and effort to a state that explicitly
We cannot afford to push away more
faculty, staff, and students or further deter talented individuals from
teaching at or attending our traditionally world-class UW System
schools. Our UW System is the state's best return on investment -- every
public dollar provides at least a $10 return to the Wisconsin economy,
according to the UW Board of Regents.
The UW System recently came out with their 2017-2019 budget request.
After the disastrous effects of the last state budget, which resulted in
the closure of the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research at
UW-Milwaukee, bigger class sizes, reductions of faculty and staff,
stagnate growth of high-demand programs, as well as millions of dollars
of deferred maintenance to university buildings, the UW Board of Regents
has requested $42.5 million -- a mere 17% of what was cut. This small
but necessary investment will allow our System schools to focus on
improving internship and job opportunities for students, expanding
college-credit options for high school students, and reducing graduation
times, among other goals. The UW System budget request will be
considered by Governor Walker for his 2017-2019 state budget proposal,
which will likely be introduced in January or February 2017.
With a dismal Walker economy, high
poverty rates, and graduates with the third-highest incurred debt in the
country, we must refocus our efforts and invest in the UW System.
addressing the crippling student debt plaguing our graduates must be a
top priority. This week, Governor Walker went to two Wisconsin technical
colleges touting a do-nothing position he created under the Department
of Financial Institutions that woefully fails to address college
affordability. This Student Loan Debt Specialist will perhaps tell
students about how much debt they owe, but miserably fails at addressing
the rising cost of debt our students are taking on.
Last session, I introduced and
supported a number of proposals that would help address the student loan
crisis. It is completely counter-productive to our country's and our
state's best interests to continue a system that ties the hands of our
future leaders. Our shared Wisconsin values insist that the opportunity
to succeed is a freedom that hardworking Wisconsinites deserve. We can
no longer afford to suffocate our next generation's future with crushing
student loan debt, which hinders our state's economic growth and
prevents graduates from realizing their dreams.
The Debt Free College Act, introduced by Rep. Melissa Sargent and I
would have allowed students who work hard and play by the rules to
have a real opportunity to succeed in our state, it applied to
students enrolled at least half-time in our state's public technical
colleges, four year universities, and tribal colleges. This legislation
created a grant program in which students who sign up commit themselves
to obtaining a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and remain
gainfully employed in Wisconsin for at least three years after
graduation. In exchange for this commitment, the state will pay for
tuition, housing, fees, and books throughout that student's higher
learning. This legislation is a hand up not a hand out. If a student
does not fulfill their commitment, their account transfers into a loan
at 5% interest.
this plan, Wisconsin's youth will have increased freedom that does not
exist in our current system plagued by student loan debt. This is not
the freedom to live a life of luxury. It is simply the freedom and
opportunity to live the American Dream. Less crippling debt would
allow our young people to be able to save up to buy a house, a new car,
and to spend money in our local communities.
In addition to this debt-free
college solution, I supported the Higher Ed, Lower Debt (HELD) bill.
HELD would allow graduates to refinance their loan, much like a car or
home loan. It would also allow student loan borrowers to deduct their
loan payments from their state income tax.
Last session I also introduced a
joint resolution to study ways to offer debt-free college to
Wisconsinites. Wisconsin's bright and talented students are being prices
out of a quality education. This has a negative impact on our state
culturally and economically and we owe it to them to dedicate time and
efforts into finding innovative solutions to tackling this problem.
As we celebrate Labor Day on Monday,
September 5, we should take time to remember Wisconsin's deep labor
history and the generations of workers and reformers who have made
significant contributions to building a middle class across our state.
Our Community Fights for Worker's Rights
Our community played a pivotal role in Wisconsin's labor movement, which
began over a century ago. Wisconsin’s first unions were formed in
Milwaukee—the bricklayers in 1847 and the carpenters in 1848. In the
1880s, as the eight-hour work day became a central concern across the
country, laborers in Milwaukee formed the Milwaukee Labor Reform
Association (later the Eight-Hour League) to advocate for the eight-hour
day. Milwaukee workers fought for the eight-hour day with a five-day
sweeping industrial work stoppage, halting production in factories
throughout the city.
During the 20th century, Wisconsin's workforce continued to seek fair
treatment and safe working conditions for all under Robert La Follette's
progressive movement. In 1911, the State Legislature passed the first
workman's compensation law. Then in 1932, our first unemployment
compensation laws were enacted. Wisconsin continued to support its
workers by passing the Wisconsin Employment Relations Act in 1937, which
provided workers with the right to organize.
The labor movement was vital to growing a strong American economy and a
solid middle class. The ability to organize, receive fair treatment and
work in safe conditions are fundamental values that built our country.
Celebrate Labor Day in Our Community
Annually, we celebrate our hard-working Wisconsinites and the Labor Day
holiday with family-friendly neighborhood festivals. Join me in our
community this Labor Day weekend as we celebrate Wisconsin's current
workforce, as well as those that came before us and fought for better
workplace rights for all. See a list of local Labor Day events below.
Oak Creek Lions Labor Day Festival
September 2 through September 5
Attend this annual event and enjoy music, food, rides, and fun and games
for all ages at the 52nd annual Oak Creek Lionsfest. Indoor and outdoor
stages will feature live music from over 20 bands all weekend long,
including the Britins, Mt. Olive and Pat McCurdy.
For more information, please click here.
American Legion Festival Grounds
9327 S. Shepard Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154
September 5 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Watch the annual Labor Day parade that starts at Zeidler Union Square
Park at 11 a.m. and works its way to Henry Maier Festival Park. Once at
Summerfest, enjoy a free festival that includes music, Bingo, vintage
cars, a children's area and much more. Local vendors will also be
selling food and drinks throughout the afternoon.
Click here for more information.
Zeidler Union Square Park
301 W. Michigan Street
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Henry Maier Festival Park
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202
St. Francis Days
Thursday, September 1 through Sunday, September 4
This annual four-day music festival is free and open to the public.
Visitors should expect to see live musical entertainment, a movie
showing, helicopter rides, chicken and rib dinners, and a parade.
Click here for more information.
Milton Vretenar Municipal Park
4230 S. Kirkwood Avenue
St. Francis, WI 53235
St. Martins Fair
Monday, September 5, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vendors at this fair sell an assortment of merchandise including
clothing, shoes, hardware and household items, paper products, pet
supplies, cleaning supplies, sporting equipment, gift items, dried
flowers and arrangements, furniture, antiques, shrubs, flowers, fruits
and vegetables, prepared food, and other miscellaneous merchandise.
Special music groups also entertain the crowd throughout the Labor Day
weekend event. This event takes place on St. Martins Road from the
intersection of W. Forest Home Avenue to W. Church Street.
Click here for more information.
St. Martins Road
Franklin WI, 53132