By State Representative, Leon D. Young
As bad as things are shaping up politically in the nation’s Capital under the incoming Trump administration, things are equally unsavory here in the Badger State.
With all three branches of state government under the iron-clad control of Republicans, the 2017- 18 biennium has all the earmarks of a political train wreck in the making.
Case in point, just last week the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Cathy Stepp, made a shocking announcement, in my view, regarding her state agency. The secretary unveiled plans for extensive changes to that agency, some of which include:
• Shifting regulatory responsibilities to private contractors
• Curtailing the powers of the state park rangers
• And, altering science and research programs. Naturally, Secretary Stepp is trying her utmost to downplay the impact of this so-called “realignment,” and puts forth a game public face that it’s no big deal.
But, make no mistake about it, this proposed DNR reorganization is a very big deal indeed; and the privatization of the agency’s regulatory responsibility is nothing short of a complete abdication of one of DNR’s core missions.
On another ominous note of the impending legislative session, Representative Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, has announced that he will introduce legislation that would eliminate prevailing wage laws for road and building products commissioned by state government. Let’s not forget that GOP lawmakers had used the state budget last year to eliminate the pay requirements for schools and various other local projects, a change scheduled to take effect January 1. While, other legislative Republicans, such as Speaker Robin Vos, have intimated that repealing prevailing wage is one way to solve our growing transportation problem.
However, pursuing this course of action, in my view, would be terrible public policy. And, most would agree that this repeal only serves to exacerbate the plight of the middle class, when Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of having the most diminished middle class in the country.
As president-elect Trump assembles his band of cabinet rogues and Wisconsin Republicans finalize their plans to run the state (and working families) further into the ground, I am reminded of one simple, yet poignant, truth: elections have consequences.
And, the ramifications from this election cycle will certainly be felt for many years to come.