Wisconsin Republicans have turned their backs on everyday Wisconsin families in favor of extreme partisan ideology in Act 20, the recently enacted 2013-2015 state budget.
While Republicans spent the past several months cutting backroom deals among themselves and extreme special interests, I was here in our community, listening to the concerns and priorities of my constituents.
The message I heard was clear — our state budget absolutely must support public schools, access to affordable healthcare, and a balanced approach to tax fairness and economic security. Unfortunately, the final product rubber-stamped by Republicans and signed by the governor does the exact opposite.
Wisconsin Republicans had one last chance when the Legislature met to debate the budget to make changes that reflect the priorities of everyday Wisconsinites — not extreme political interests. Unfortunately, they chose to once again ignore the will of the people and rubber-stamp their extreme budget with no substantial changes.
They could have prioritized funding our public schools over the expansion of taxpayer funding to private voucher schools by increasing public school funding by at least $275 per pupil. They could have accepted federal funds to strengthen BadgerCare by insuring nearly 85,000 additional Wisconsin residents and covering more people on BadgerCare at a lower cost to Wisconsin families. And they could have created a fair tax structure aimed at helping build a stronger middle class.
But instead, the budget signed by the governor expands unaccountable private voucher schools statewide — likely forcing property tax increases and cuts to local public schools in many communities across the state. It includes a health care plan that covers 84,700 fewer people while costing our families an extra $120 million. It hands out a massive tax break targeted toward our wealthiest residents instead of providing real relief to Wisconsin's everyday families or reinvesting in public schools. And it gives special favors to predatory payday loan shops, cable companies, and lead paint makers by rolling back essential consumer protections.
Especially when Wisconsin remains dead last in the Midwest in job growth, our communities cannot afford to have Wisconsin Republicans making their extreme political ideology the law ahead of the best interests of our state. Unfortunately, that's exactly what they did by adopting this extreme, divisive state budget.
Despite the action taken by Wisconsin Republicans, I will continue to fight to support our public schools, increase access to quality healthcare, and provide economic stability for our everyday families and communities.
State Rep. Sandy Pasch, D-Shorewood, represents Wisconsin's 10th Assembly District — which includes Milwaukee's North Side and the village of Shorewood — and serves as the Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader.
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