By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
In August, I became the first ever African-American woman to Co-chair the Joint Committee on Finance.
The JCF is one of the most powerful and important committees in the Wisconsin Legislature, and I was honored to have served my constituents by leading the committee. Unfortunately, my first tenure on the committee would not last long.
I am disappointed but admittedly not shocked by the Democratic leadership’s recent appointments to the Joint Finance Committee for the 2013 session. I regret to say that I was not reappointed to the committee, though my regret is not for my own standing but rather for the African American community and other minority communities in Wisconsin. I have long done everything in my power to properly represent minorities and the African-American community, so I feel that we have lost a strong voice in government.
Long have Wisconsin Democrats recognized the crucial and unique needs of minorities. In return, minority communities have often overwhelmingly political support they have received from those communities. In every session since 1983, Senate Democrats have maintained the presence of an African-American legislator on this important committee. The committee has a hand in almost every important decision affecting the whole of Wisconsin, whether economic or social. 2013 will mark the first year in over three decades that Senate Democrats will not make such an appointment.
This does not mean that the work will end nor the fights that need to be fought will die away. Our state and its issues are far too important to me and my Democratic colleagues for any of us to simply surrender. My pledge is to continue to represent the hard-working men and women of my district that are still waiting on the promises that equality should bring them- an education that actually educates, a right to vote that is not impeded, a health care system that heals, and a government which favor the needs of the least of these among us. That agenda will not leave the Senate because of this appointment.
To my colleagues in both houses, in both parties, on the Joint Committee on Finance and elsewhere, I say thank you for the opportunity to serve with you on this most important committee. It has been the joy of my first eight years of service of Wisconsin.
And to my constituents: I will never stop fighting for you! I look forward to the work that is laid before the Legislature this year and our mutual collaboration to achieve results for the people of Wisconsin.