By Nyesha Stone
The room was packed at Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes’ last stop for their Building the People’s tour at the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County Volunteer Center on Dec. 11.
They visited Green Bay, Wausau, La Crosse and ended in Milwaukee. Organizations, elected-officials, community members, etc. came to give their opinions, but they mostly listened to each other discuss different topics that pertain to the state’s budget.
“It’s important for us to get a perspective of the entire state,” said Barnes about why they created the tour. “We want to make sure we’re hearing everybody’s voice. It’s about what you think should be in the budget,” which is why they called the tour the “People’s Tour.”
Evers and Barnes gave a few quick remarks before the sessions began. About 100 individuals were broken into smaller groups based on the topic that they signed up for earlier in the day.
“The budget is the most important policy we have going forward,” Evers said.
After Evers spoke, and the rules were explained, people scooted their chairs together to begin the discussion. Although it was difficult to hear what anyone was saying people made do. They brought their chairs closer together and spoke when the opportunity arose.
In the education discussion group, it was agreed upon that public schools should either be fully funded or receive more funding. By making technology more accessible to students, we can begin to bridge the achievement gap, said one participant.
They hope Evers plans to provide educators with the adequate resources they need to so they can ensure the students are getting the resources they need.
Next Generation Workforce and Economic Development, Health Care, What Do Kids Want, and Energy and Environment were the other topics of the night. Although most topics pertained or involved the youth, there were only a few young people in attendance.
Clean water and the exposure of lead levels in our water was a topic a participant was highly concerned about.
“Clean water and clear air is necessary for life,” she said. Some in the group didn’t see lead in the water as a serious issue, but everyone’s opinions were respected.
Every discussion was moderated and recorded to be used later for building the state’s budget.