Sen. Kathleen Vinehout unveils plan to help Wisconsin veterans

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, Democratic candidate for Governor, Friday, released a four-point plan to address the “very serious management problems” with the state’s veterans homes.

“As Governor, I will restore funding to the Veteran Assistance Program for homeless veterans, and to the Assistance to Needy Veterans program, both of which were cut by the current Governor in his first budget,” Vinehout said.

“I will stop the current practice of shifting funds away from our Veterans Homes to fund other budget needs at the expense of our veterans.”

Read full article

Vinehout Proposes Comprehensive Plan to Help Farmers

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a Democratic candidate for Governor, Monday released a comprehensive plan to help Wisconsin farmers cope with the crisis in the farm economy.

“We need both short term help and a long term fix,” Vinehout said, who herself is a Western Wisconsin farmer who understands the financial stress farmers face this year and the need for changes to bring about long-term health for agriculture.

“We must get farm families the immediate help they need,” she said. That would include protection from foreclosure and adequate consumer protection, access to health care through BadgerCare, and technical assistance to help with necessary innovations and improvements.

Read full article

Vinehout Challenges Evers on Free Tuition for Tech and 2-year UW Schools

This morning Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) reacted to Superintendent Evers announcement last night that he would not support free tuition for Wisconsin residents attending technical college and two-year UW campuses.

“I woke up this morning profoundly disappointed in State Superintendent Evers,” said Senator Vinehout. “Last night, he was the one candidate on-stage who did not raise his hand in support of free two-year and tech college tuition. He later gave his reasoning: these kids need ‘skin in the game.’”

“When I was a kid growing up, my family was poor. My dad dug ditches; my mom took care of five kids and suffered from cancer. It was pretty clear where we stood on the social ladder. My dad refused to sign my financial aid papers. He thought college would be wasted on a girl,” Vinehout said.

Read more

Vinehout Responds to Supreme Court Decision on Redistricting

June 18, 2018

             Kathleen’s Response to U. S. Supreme Court Decision on Redistricting

The Supreme Court decision to return the Gill v. Whitford gerrymandering case back to the lower federal court does not mean the plaintiffs lost. It does mean we will not have new maps for the 2018 election.

Chief Justice Roberts wrote the court expressed no views on the merits of the plaintiff’s case.

Regardless of the court’s decision, we must continue to focus our efforts on passing non-partisan redistricting reform to ensure every voter’s voice is heard. The people should determine their representatives, not the other way around.

Download statement as PDF

Security Problems with State Tech Systems


April 11, 2018

Security Problems with State Tech Systems

Vinehout Calls for Immediate Action to Protect Data

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, calls for prompt action to fix the security problems with the state’s computer systems reported in a newly released audit from the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB).

The vulnerabilities uncovered in the audit could affect every business, taxpayer, student and recipient of state services.

“It’s disturbing that these security issues exist at all, but the fact that they appear to be systemic and recurring is even more troublesome and represents failed leadership and lack of attention by the Walker Administration,” said Sen. Vinehout, who is also a Democratic candidate for governor.

“The Department of Administration has not done a comprehensive risk assessment to identify security concerns and vulnerabilities since 2012. Because regular ‘penetration tests’ were not completed, the state does not know how safe or unsafe all servers and systems are in the state’s network,” Vinehout said.

“The DOA did not take any of the additional steps outlined in its own corrective action plan, the auditors wrote in one of their findings.”

“The audit cited problems related to protection of computer security and inadequate security policies, procedures and standards. Many of these weaknesses are recurring and found in previous audits,” Vinehout said.

“The auditors also found that the University of Wisconsin System has not taken sufficient steps to protect student data and keep accurate financial records.”

“The first job of the Governor is to pay attention and to run state government efficiently and effectively,” Vinehout said. “If the Governor doesn’t have the time nor inclination he should step aside and let someone else do the job.”

Media Contacts:

Greg Leaf

Vinehout Proposes Moving Broadband Forward, Further and Faster

“The pace of Broadband expansion in Wisconsin is too slow to keep up with our changing economy,” Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, said today when introducing legislation to increase the state’s investment in Broadband and remove limitations on what local governments can do.

“We must speed up the expansion of Broadband substantially in Wisconsin if we want to keep pace with the demand. Applicants for a state Broadband expansion grant from my home county of Buffalo have been told by the state that the process is very competitive. There are 100 applications. Only 15 will be funded. And these are not large grants,” Vinehout said.

“If we want the Wisconsin economy to thrive we have to start getting serious about Broadband. If we just keep doing what we are doing, it will take five more years to fund just the projects that are ready to go now.”

Read more

Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Vruwink Introduce “Moving Broadband Forward” Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:CONTACT: Sen. Kathleen Vinehout – 608-266-8546

February 14, 2018CONTACT: Rep. Don Vruwink – 608-266-3790

Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Vruwink Introduce

 “Moving Broadband Forward” Bills

MADISON – State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) and State Rep. Don Vruwink (D-Milton) introduced their “Moving Broadband Forward” bills today.

The package of four bills provide $100 million a year in grants for broadband expansion for the next two years. The legislation also removes costly and time-consuming roadblocks when municipalities want to start their own broadband utilities.

Under the bill, municipalities and the state Department of Transportation would be allowed to install empty conduit lines for future fiber optics as part of road and sidewalk projects. This eliminates the need to dig trenches a second time. The “dig-once” policy could save up to ninety percent of the cost of installing future fiber optics.

Also, the bills require that for a service to be called or advertised as “Broadband” it must consistently allow users to download at 25 Mbps (megabytes per second) and upload at 3 Mbps.

“Wisconsin has not been serious about expanding broadband,” Vinehout said. “The Governor returned $23 million in federal stimulus broadband money in 2011. Since 2014, Wisconsin has approved only $3.9 million in broadband expansion grants. Minnesota spent $85 million during that same time.”

The Federal Communications Commission recently reported that thirteen percent of Wisconsinites lack access to at least one broadband service provider. In 2016, according to the tech firm Speedtest, Wisconsin ranked 49th in average internet speed.

“Wisconsin is lagging the nation badly in broadband service, especially compared to Minnesota. We have a lot of catching up to do,” Senator Vinehout said.  “We won’t be able to Move Broadband Forward without a significant investment and a commitment to fixing the problems with current law.”

“The Legislature so far has dropped only pennies into the bank of our broadband infrastructure,” Vruwink said. “In this day and age, high-speed internet is as essential as electricity. It is vital to the economic success of our small towns, villages and cities. Currently, municipalities that want to become internet service providers face too many bureaucratic obstacles. This bill removes the unnecessary obstacles.”

“Broadband expansion today is the rural electrification of the 1930s and ’40s,” Vruwink said. “I’ve heard from many business owners, farmers, and families around the state who do not have access to broadband internet. That puts them at a competitive disadvantage.”

“We must get serious about Moving Broadband Forward,” Sen. Vinehout said. “Real broadband is an essential service for families, for students, and for businesses. It will do far more to keep and attract young people to Wisconsin than an advertising campaign in Chicago.”


Download this Press Release as PDF

Senator Vinehout Statement on the State of the State

(MADISON) Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - D-Alma, released the following statement prior to the Governor’s State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature.

“The State of the State should be measured by how each of us is doing in our own lives. By that measure, we are not doing well.

“Wages are 18th lowest in the country. We are last in business start-ups. We are third worst for affordable family-based infant childcare, making holding a job difficult and

“Public schools in our communities are getting less from the state in real dollars than ten years ago, forcing many to pass referenda to increase local property taxes to keep schools open. Our student debt per graduate is eighth highest in the country.

“State sales tax revenue is up, but mostly because we are increasing our own consumer debt at an unsustainable rate.

“We need a new vision, one that puts people first. Governor Walker’s focus on tax credits and cash payments to large corporations has not worked. Investing in our human potential, providing the resources people need to be productive, is the surest way to improve the state of the State.”


Download this statement as a PDF

Senator Vinehout’s Statement Regarding Public Hearing on SB 634

January 10, 2018

MADISON, WI – Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) offered the following statement regarding the public hearing on SB 634 that takes away local powers related to employment.

“Wisconsin is begging for workers to come here and stay. We should not let political ideology dictate the discussion for solving Wisconsin’s worker shortage. Eliminating workers’ rights is exactly what got us into this mess, why would we do it again?  

“If you want workers to stay, you need to treat them well. Local elected leaders know this. Now some lawmakers want to penalize local elected leaders for treating their workers well. This makes no sense on so many levels.”

Download this statement as PDF

Vinehout Proposes Free Tuition for Tech Colleges and Two-Year Campuses

Legislation to make tuition free at the state’s technical colleges and two-year campuses was unveiled Monday by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma.

“Expanding our skilled workforce is the surest way to grow our economy and raise wages which are 18th lowest in the country,” Vinehout said. “Other states that have moved in this direction have seen enrollments  increase.”

Vinehout’s proposal would make tuition free for all Wisconsin residents. It would apply to all students, both full-time and part-time and would not require enrollment in a degree program.

“What I am proposing today is the broadest free tuition program in the country,” Vinehout said. “I want to eliminate any hesitation anyone might have in pursuing their opportunities and dreams.

“I want to make it as easy as possible for someone who is already working or has family obligations, doesn’t have the cash and can’t afford to take time off, to get the education and training they want. I call it ‘Freedom to Learn’”.

Vinehout cited her own experience growing up. “I was on my own after high school, working full time and my only option was the local two-year college.”

The cost of the program to the state is estimated to be $126 million. Vinehout proposes to pay for it by repealing the Manufacturing Tax Credit. “One of the common complaints I hear from business leaders is that they can’t find skilled workers to fill the jobs they have. Trading their tax break for a pool of skilled workers seems to me a good exchange, particularly since corporate profits and corporate cash reserves are at an all-time high and wages are stagnant.” 

“Investing in the potential of our own workers will be more productive than trying to lure workers from other states or giving billions to one foreign corporation.”

For Immediate Release:                                                        Contact:

                                                                                                Greg Leaf,  715-381-0123