By Urban Media News
With just four weeks until Election Day, communities of color in southeast Wisconsin are asking: “Where is Scott Walker?”
It isn’t a secret that the former Milwaukee county executive doesn’t spend much time campaigning in Milwaukee or Madison neighborhoods of color.
It’s noted the governor spends at least one day a week in the battleground region of the Fox Valley, where he will need a strong turnout on Election Day in order be competitive.
But residents of Milwaukee’s North and South sides for instance, can’t catch a glimpse of the governor unless they’re willing to shell out their paycheck for a table at one of Walker’s expensive fundraisers.
Walker’s absence on the campaign trail mirrors a first term where the governor ignored the everyday needs of communities of color. Since Scott Walker took power in 2011, his rigid political agenda has failed minority communities.
Instead of policies that improve the quality of life for minorities, Walker and Republicans sought to reduce healthcare options, limit opportunity, and make it harder to secure a position in the middle class.
Walker’s rejection of federal funds to strengthen Medicaid turned away more than $4 billion in federal funding that would have expanded the state’s Medicaid program to cover all residents living at or below 138% of the federal poverty line.
The governor and Republican lawmakers instead kicked more than 60,000 people off their healthcare, pricing more than 60% of those Wisconsinites out of healthcare — some healthcare options would require people making as little as $12,000 per year to buy private insurance with costs up to $4,000 per year.
Walker’s decision was purely political, designed to energize the most extreme, fringe members of his base.
If Walker were paying attention to the needs of black and brown citizens, he would have easily realized the significant implication that hung in the balance for low-income minorities.
According to the Kaiser Institute for Public Health, as of 2011, 74% of uninsured blacks had incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty line in Wisconsin – and only 16% had health insurance.
Quality of life for those in the black community continues to take a hit due to Scott Walker’s failed policies, and his disastrous health care policy didn’t improve the day to day life of poor people of color.
Access to quality, affordable health care plays a significant role in closing the gap in life expectancy between blacks and whites.
With so many Wisconsinites of all stripes poised to benefit from Medicaid expansion, accepting federal dollars should have been a no-brainer for Walker and Republicans.
In addition to rejecting Medicaid expansion, Scott Walker made it a top priority to cut funding by $1 million for Planned Parenthood, forcing the closure of four health centers, and blocking at least 12,000 Wisconsin women from their only source of preventive and medical care.
Walker denied thousands of women access to birth control, cancer screenings, annual exams, and sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment.
In addition to direct attacks on public health options, Walker worked to place roadblocks on the path to the middle class – ending opportunities for people of color to become established members of the middle class.
In Walker’s first few months as governor, he swiftly ushered in a controversial law gutting public sector unions in the state.
Unions are a historic gateway for millions to move up and get ahead through public-sector jobs as teachers, public safety officers, and other professions.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, black workers are more likely than all other ethnic groups to be public-union members, comprising 15 percent of all membership. Union membership means workplace protections and the ability to fight for health benefits or a fair wage to afford private health insurance. Scott Walker’s first term agenda completely undermined that idea and ended the promise of the American Dream for many.
Walker’s Democratic challenger, Mary Burke, routinely visits communities of color – and it isn’t just for show. Her jobs plan, Invest for Success, includes pointed strategies to include those communities in Wisconsin’s success.
Burke wants to create jobs, create opportunity, and invest in the communities Scott Walker has ignored for nearly four years.
Voters are tired of being overlooked; they’re ready for a new direction with Mary Burke where their needs are addressed each day.