By Rep. Sandy Pasch
In light of Lilly Ledbetter’s recent visit to Wisconsin, I believe it is important to highlight the Wisconsin Republicans’ unprecedented attack on women’s access to health care and information and fair pay remedies this past legislative session.
Instead of focusing on the real issues facing Wisconsin families, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans continually pushed forward extreme, ideologically driven attacks on women. As a prime example, they repealed Wisconsin’s pay equity enforcement law, which allowed victims of discrimination access to state courts to seek less-costly redress. Due to pay discrimination against women, the repeal will allow offending employers to keep $8 billion dollars a year in their own pockets that rightfully belongs to working women and their families.
What’s more, if the Equal Pay Enforcement Act was still law, and Wisconsin’s wage gap disappeared, the State of Wisconsin would collect an additional $1.1 billion in income taxes from women workers every biennium. This money could have gone a long way toward offsetting the unprecedented cuts to public education, healthcare, and worker training programs put forth by Gov. Walker and his allies.
Unfortunately, repealing Wisconsin’s pay equity law has only been the tip of the iceberg. Governor Walker and Republican legislators also targeted women’s access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, birth control and health care access overall under Wisconsin’s successful BadgerCare program. They eliminated comprehensive sex education in our schools, restricted private insurance coverage for women’s health services and further interfered with the relationship between a woman and her doctor. Furthermore, Republican legislators voted against restoring hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for sexual assault victims services that they cut in the budget, and Walker himself stated that he wants to make abortion illegal – even when the mother’s life is in danger, or for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.
It is an outright disservice to our constituents that Republicans prioritized an extreme and polarizing attack on women’s rights over job creation this past session – especially in light of consistent reports that Wisconsin lost far more jobs than any other state under Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans this past year. Gov. Walker has taken our state down the wrong path, and his divisive and extreme policies are clearly not working for women or working families across our state.
Rep. Sandy Pasch (D – Whitefish Bay) represents Wisconsin’s 22nd Assembly District and serves as the Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader.