KATHLEEN VINEHOUT
PEOPLE FIRST

Problems Left for the Next Budget Writers

“Policy is who pays, who doesn’t pay and where the money gets spent,” said the President of the NAACP in a recent speech.

Policy making was center stage at the State Capitol when the long delayed $76 billion two-year state budget was rushed to passage just days after a majority of lawmakers voted to give a Taiwan billionaire $3 billion in state subsidies.

Budgets are about choices. Budget writers this year chose to leave major problems for the next budget writers.

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When “Up” is “Down” – Trying to understand last minute deals taking away local powers

A last-minute budget amendment has folks in Western Wisconsin very worried.

Locals have spent seven years negotiating with large sand mines to reach agreements that allow neighbors and mines to co-exist. In some cases, locals decided certain sensitive and tourist areas needed protection from mines.

All the careful negotiations appear poised to go out the window in a strangely evolving budget deal that seems to affect quarries – or, as we often know them, gravel pits.

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Wisconsin's Long Journey toward a Living Wage

“For an adult with a family who has to pay for food, clothing, and a place to live, and be able to pay for a car, the minimum wage is clearly not high enough,” wrote Bethany of Eleva-Strum High School.

Wisconsin was one of the first states to enact a Living Wage.  The law gave authority for determining a living wage to an Industrial Commission made up of a balance of employers, employees and the public. The year was 1913.

Two years earlier, people attending a national conference of the National Consumers’ League in Milwaukee called for a minimum wage. Advocates made a minimum wage the top issue.

Following the conference, Wisconsinites called on leaders to create a state minimum wage.

The next year, UW Professor John Connors wrote the first minimum wage bill. Progressive lawmakers introduced two bills. But neither bill was signed into law.

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Where Are the People? Ideological groups push de-licensing plan

“This bill does not allow for public debate…is the public even aware? You’re not allowing the public to have adequate input into this issue,” testified Stephanie Bloomingdale.

Ms. Bloomingdale is the Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. She represented many workers who, along with the rest of us, just found out about bills that set up a process to get rid of occupational licensing.

In Wisconsin, many professions are licensed, such as plumbers, electricians, doctors, lawyers, architects, and teachers. Those folks affected by the bill had little time to become aware of efforts to change their professional credentials. The rest of us, who may hire plumbers or use deaf interpreters, had little way of knowing what was happening.

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