A Level Playing Field


We’ve all had the experience, standing in line at the grocery store or the bank when you can’t help but overhear other conversations. Not that long ago, I did my best not to listen to the two men in front of me discussing pro football’s “deflategate” scandal.  What started out friendly quickly got heated.  One man’s comment stuck in my head: “it’s about the integrity of the game, about maintaining a level playing field.”  


Unfortunately, the Governor and the Republican-led Legislature have made it clear that they think it's perfectly o.k. to stack the deck. Twice in the last week they demonstrated that they don't believe you and your neighbors in Northern Wisconsin deserve a level playing field. 


On Tuesday at a construction site in the Fox Valley, the Governor announced a plan to borrow 200 million dollars that you and your children will have to help pay back. And spend it on projects in other parts of the state.  Under the Governor’s plan, this $200 million will be followed by another $150 million in new bonding later this session.  That comes on top of $500 million in debt the budget already put on future taxpayers. 


We all support repairing Wisconsin’s roads, but we shouldn’t be putting it on a credit card. And we should be taking care of all our roads and bridges, not just those south of Highway 8.  We owe it to our constituents to come up with a long-term transportation plan that is adequately and fairly funded.     


Another thing we owe our constituents is to make sure that we uphold the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws. Sadly, in a hastily called midnight session on Wednesday, the Republican leaders of the legislature did the opposite and passed a bill that exempts political crimes from being investigated using what is called a John Doe investigation. 


The authors of the bill claim that John Doe investigations are too invasive and our grand jury system is more than enough. But if John Doe is so inappropriate, why would Republicans introduce a bill that only shields politicians for political crimes and not abolish it in its entirety? How do I explain to my constituents that I am protected from a procedure that they are not?  This is wrong. 


Instead of focusing their energy on the things that the residents of Wisconsin are asking for - roads, schools and jobs - the Governor and his colleagues are busy taking care of their friends and campaign contributors. In addition to violating the trust of the people that elected them, they are eroding what is left of our state’s once proud tradition of integrity.


The uproar over the “deflategate” scandal demonstrated that we all value basic fairness. What is important when we’re talking about a football game is even more important when we’re talking about elected officials and state law.  I’m going to keep fighting for a level playing field for you and your family, for everyone I represent in Northern Wisconsin.