Looking Forward to 2016
Senator Janis Ringhand
While out shopping for the holidays, I hear over and over again that it sure doesn’t feel like Christmas. While the temperature might say otherwise, Christmas remains the season to share good times and hopes for a better future with our family and friends.
Now that the legislature has wrapped up our activity for the year, I would like to take a look forward at some of issues I will be working with my colleagues on in 2016. Even though Republicans currently enjoy one-party rule in Madison, Democrats remain committed to listening to people and bringing forth alternative ideas and solutions to the problems facing our state.
In the fall, Senate Democrats introduced the “Badger Blueprint” agenda based on growth, innovation and opportunity for Wisconsin. I would like to point out some of the ideas included in the Badger Blueprint that Democrats be fighting for in the coming year.
Investing in our public schools is a proven way to improve the quality of life in every part of the state. Expanding successful early childhood programs, improving access to four year-old kindergarten, and establishing in-school wrap-around services will help to get Wisconsin back on track.
Access to quality, affordable health care is essential for Wisconsin families who are working hard to make ends meet. That’s why I support the expansion of BadgerCare in order to provide access to affordable care for an estimated 81,000 additional state residents. According to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), this common sense plan would bring home more than $1 billion of our hard earned tax dollars over the next six years alone. These are taxes that Wisconsinites have already paid to the federal government. It’s time to bring our money home to support public schools, infrastructure improvements and health care in every part of the state.
The University of Wisconsin is the engine that drives our economic train. We need to support the university’s effort to bring the “Wisconsin Idea” to every part of our state. I also support the “Higher Ed/Lower Debt plan to provide relief to more than 800,000 student loan borrowers who are working every day to pay for their education.
Together, with transportation stakeholders, I hope to build support for a long term funding solution to invest in local infrastructure improvement projects throughout Wisconsin. We need to be innovative to meet our modern infrastructure needs because kicking the can down the road is no longer a viable option to take care of our roads and bridges.
Being from a rural community, I have seen first-hand the importance of expanding broadband internet and offering incentives to bring jobs to both rural and urban areas. Closing the skills gap to address worker shortages and expanding transitional job opportunities will help businesses meet their needs and raise family incomes.
In order to create economic opportunity in every part of the state, we need to measure our successes and failures by requiring a “Return of Investment” report for state tax breaks to give everyone a clear understanding of how to best target our efforts to create jobs and improve the quality life in our communities.
Senate Democrats are committed to family supporting wages and paid sick-leave when your child, parent or family member becomes ill. As more and more workers struggle to save for retirement we have proposed creating a new pension opportunity for people to join low-cost plans to save towards a guaranteed monthly pension once they retire.
While no one expects the Republicans to abandon the power and perks they currently enjoy with one-party rule, I will continue to bring forward alternative ideas and solutions like those offered in the Badger Blueprint.
If you would like more details and information on the Badger Blueprint you can find it online at www.wibadgerblueprint.com.
As we celebrate Christmas and the New Year with our family and friends, please take some time to remember that it has been a tough year for many people in Wisconsin. Keep those who are less fortunate in your thoughts and prayers for a more prosperous 2016.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in the State Senate. May you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.