The unanimous desire for quality bridges and roads is an ongoing battle that we seem to have a difficult time winning; the still unresolved Hwy 23 project being the most stark example. I am committed to finding a solution to the dangerous driving conditions currently in place through smaller state funded projects that directly impact the most at risk stretch of highway.
Additionally, we must extend our understanding of infrastructure to incorporate sidewalks, bike trails, public lighting, city parks, etc. These shared community spaces are a priority in rebuilding our state and local infrastructure. In a modern, high-functioning, society parks are not to be viewed as unnecessary or as a luxury. They are a vital component to a healthy and growing community.
Mankind’s greatest achievement is already under threat just 28 years after its onset. We need to ensure that our friends in rural locations have the access to high speed internet that we often take for granted in an urban setting. This past December the FCC rolled back its rules on net neutrality making it legal for providers to control internet speeds for different content. Now it is up to the states to make sure that we protect ourselves and keep the internet a free space unfiltered by corporate greed and corruption. In the information age of today, data, where and how we access it, is infrastructure.
Addiction has slowly and quietly crept into our neighborhoods and has devastated families all across Wisconsin. This evil does not discriminate; it knows no race, religion, or income status and affects us all. I support an increase in funding to programs targeting the prevention of opioid abuse and, equally as important, programs for treating members of our community that have become addicted. In addition, I am committed to passing legislation to instill a seven day maximum on pharmacy prescriptions of opioids for accute pain. This will reduce the opportunity for overuse and abuse. The community rises together or falls together and we must support our neighbors at a time in their lives when they may need us the most.
Strong interconnected communities value and appreicate their teachers. Since Act 10, employee benefits for teachers have sharply declined while costs have done nothing but climb. The starting salary for a teacher, likely burdened by crushing student loan debt, is $36,983. Even after some tenure and reaching the WI state average salary of $54,998, our teachers are still being paid below the national average. Let's refocus our priorities and invest in education so that our children and grandchildren get to grow up able to boast about a Wisconsin Education on their resume.
The pursuit of renewable energy was once a more expensive alternative in an effort to reduce our economic footprint; we had to choose economic efficiency or the moral high ground. Simply put, this is no longer the case. It is the dawn of a new day where renewable energy is not only the morally correct thing to do, but it is also economically advantageous. In 2006, we set a goal to generate at least 10% of our energy through renewable resources by 2015. We proudly accomplished this goal by 2013 but never defined our next benchmark. I am committed to passing legislation to set our next renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 25% by 2025. Specifically focusing on welcoming new wind and solar projects to Wisconsin, as they are currently the most underutilized and available.
Regulated legalization of cannabis assists in balancing our budget by increasing revenue and decreasing spending, all while adding the safety benefit of sending consumers to legitimate businesses. No longer an experiment, data collected from other states has shown the decision to legalize and regulate cannabis has led to the generation of significant tax revenue. Tax revenue that Wisconsin needs to fund our communities. Additionally, we will be able to move forward on reducing mass incarcerations and the excessive costs to law enforcement associated with current cannabis legislation. This would grant our police officers more time and energy to direct towards public safety matters.
Responsible government starts with responsible fiscal policy. By expanding upon new and underutilized industries, we will be able to generate the increase in tax revenue needed to fund our state programs that have seen so many unfortunate cuts over the last decade. This will be accomplished without the added burden to our citizens of raising taxes. Additionally, we will be able to responsibly enact a real tax cut when we put an end to corporate welfare and reinstate the expectation that “big business” is paying their fair share. This is the tax cut that our shrinking middle class deserves.
We can all agree that balancing the budget is a priority, but Act 10 is a failed attempt to accomplish this that has proven only to hurt and defund some of our hardest working and underappreciated citizens. I will work to reverse these attacks and fight any other attempt in the future to weaken the union and silence your voices. I stand strongly by our unions because I believe in the power of every voice being heard.
The voucher program is an attempt to privatize the education system. It has been expanded and reworked in a way that no longer serves its originally intended purpose. I will not stand by while public taxpayer dolalrs are funded into the private sector toward for-profit ecucation of our young people. In addition to reforming the voucher program, I will fight to allow the refinancing of student loan debt. You currently are unable to do so despite this proposal carrying an overwhelming majority of support from both parties. The greed of the lenders has won out with our currently elected officals and it is time to make this change to refinance student loan debt at a fair rate.
Universal Healthcare: My approach to health is one of accessibility. We must ensure that everyone is able to receive the care and services that they require. Nobody wants to think about health problems entering their lives, but as a society we should be prepared for the possibility that an accident or ailment can happen to anyone at anytime without warning. We should work to expand BadgerCare for all as a public option to provide low-cost, high quality insurance for all state residents.
When considering Planned Parenthood, it is important to understand that the organization offers a multitude of important healthcare services to men and women on site. I believe that access to quality care such as this plays a major role in maintaining the general health for all. I will work to continue funding Planned Parenthood locations all across Wisconsin. Additionally, I support a woman’s right to choose and am committed to passing legislation to remove the current ultrasound requirement. The right to choose does not make a woman’s choice any easier and the current ultrasound requirement is a shaming technique that cannot stand.
The recently identified lead in our water service lines is not being addressed in a timely and effective manner. Legislation proposed thus far has been slow moving and underfunded. In Michigan, we have already seen the devastating results that follow when this matter is not treated with the seriousness that it warrants. I am committed to passing legislation to expand the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program in an effort to assist homeowners replace their water service lines that currently contain unsafe levels of lead. Our precious natural resources cannot be taken for granted because safe and clean drinking water should be an expectation.