By Senator Lena C. Taylor
GOP Controlled Legislature Passes State Budget Riddled with Problems
Every election cycle, we tell community members that elections have consequences. Whether you vote or not, you will be impacted by the folks that win these elections and make policy decisions. After going through my Eighth state budget this past week, these sentiments have never rung truer.
I’ve served about half of my tenure in the legislature under Republican control. But you never get used to legislators who believe expanding health care, to an additional 90,000 Wisconsin residents, is a form of welfare. How do you leave $1.6 billion on the table that could have gone to help with affordable health care? But it doesn’t stop there.
In an unprecedented year, Wisconsin has financial resources that we could have only dreamed about. We finally have some real money, that could be used to make some real, long term changes. When given a chance to do something different, the Republicans did what they always do… they left people hanging.
They used their power in the legislature to pass a budget that did the following: refuse to close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile correctional facility, continue to give themselves control over drawing their own districts, devalue worker’s rights, refuse Gov. Tony Evers efforts to raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.15 per hour over the course of the next three years, and decided to cut a Evers proposal to expand the earned income and homestead tax credits, which would help low-income residents.
Given the chance to do something different, Republicans used their big stick to beat back Evers’ proposal to spend much needed money to update the state’s outdated unemployment system equipment and instead just “study” the issue. Oh, and they decided that the one-week waiting period to get unemployment benefits should stand. They also decided to nix plans to try to bring prescription drug costs under control, with the establishment of an Office of Prescription Drug Affordability.
In keeping with all the nonsense on “critical race theory”, Republicans cut Equity measures across state departments. They also decided that health grants intended to help women of color and their infant children weren’t important enough to fund.
Being the fiscal geniuses that they are, they decided it was better to borrow $125 million dollars to expand broadband across the state. Did I mention that we have an obscene amount of money on hand in our state coffers?
Given the chance to do something different, Republicans put forth a budget that would cut 50% of the transit system funding from Milwaukee and Madison. Coming off a year in which COVID-19 devastated many families, the Republicans thought it was a good time lift the UW System tuition freeze.
Evers sought to add $190 million to the university system allocation, but Republicans thought $8 million was more reasonable. In terms of K-12 education, Republicans have told parents and districts for years, they wish they had more money to do more for schools. Given the chance to do something different, because we had more money than we have ever seen, they did as little as possible.