It’s a sad day in Wisconsin. Legislative Republicans attacked middle-class families across Wisconsin when they rubber-stamped Gov. Scott Walker’s deeply flawed budget. This wasteland budget will take us backward and turn Wisconsin into Wississippi in many ways.
Here are some ways the Walker/GOP budget hurts middle-class families, our freedom and our future:
• It takes taxpayer investment away from our public schools, some of the best in the nation, and gives it to unaccountable private voucher schools.
• It raises taxes on senior citizens who want to stay in their homes and low-income working families.
• It slashes funding for our universities and job retraining programs.
• It passes the buck to local communities, forcing them to make the tough cuts while Walker consolidates more power at the state level.
• It takes cancer screening and basic health care away from thousands of women, men and children.
• It fails to create jobs, except for political cronies, and will force the layoff of thousands of teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers.
• It threatens our lakes, land and recycling with the worst environmental attacks in memory.
Republicans rubber-stamped Walker’s dishonest budget, even with its many broken promises. Republicans tout a surplus — but it is easy to come up with extra money if you don’t pay the bills. The Republican budget raises property taxes, raids funds, hikes fees and actually increases state spending by $1.1 billion, even while making devastating cuts to education, health and public services. This is despite repeated promises by the governor and Republican legislators that they would do none of those things.
Early in the budget process Walker asked for shared sacrifices to balance the budget.
He asked children to sacrifice with fewer teachers, classes and sports. He asked senior citizens to sacrifice by giving up their homes and medicine. He asked dislocated workers to sacrifice with no job training or hope.
In April, we learned the state had $636 million more in revenue than expected — thanks in part to the numerous job-creating initiatives Democrats passed last session. Did Walker give kids back their teachers or seniors the ability to stay in their homes or the employed any job opportunities?
No. Instead, Walker and legislative Republicans pressed ahead with $2.3 billion in corporate tax giveaways and special favors to big corporations and Republican campaign donors. Clearly, there is no shared sacrifice in this budget.
Assembly and Senate Democrats tried to reverse the worst of Walker’s budget priorities with a series of budget amendments that would have shifted funding back to public schools rather than wealthy private schools, restored vital job programs for displaced workers, ensured continued access to affordable health care, protected local control, and ensured a more transparent and honest government.
These common-sense measures should have easily won bipartisan support. But they were all rejected on party-line votes. This administration and Legislature refuse to compromise even if it helps people, saves money or adds accountability. That’s disappointing.
Even though Republican lawmakers rubber-stamped the governor’s dishonest budget, this fight is far from over. As we meet with many of you in the coming weeks, we can discuss the choices we face.
As a state, we can either bend over backward for special interests or we can stand up for the working families of Wisconsin. We hope you will stand with us as we continue the fight to give Wisconsin back to the people.