State Rep. Peter Barca
Op-Ed

The Walker Agenda Is Failing

The result is rising job layoffs, a shrinking middle class, and nation's third-worst roads.

By - Jan 27th, 2016 11:53 am
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Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker. Photo from the State of Wisconsin.

During his State of the State speech, Governor Scott Walker offered nothing more than Band-Aid proposals that are anemic and weak compared to the significant challenges we face.

The numbers are staggering.

In 2015, roughly 10,000 hardworking Wisconsinites received layoff notices, the highest single-year total since the governor took office. Wisconsin still ranks in the bottom third for job growth and worst in the Midwest, and our middle class is shrinking faster than any other state. We rank third-worst for student loan debt and our roads are also third-worst in the nation. And Republicans have cut $1 billion from public K-12 schools since 2010.

Wisconsin should be a leader; however, under Republicans we are falling behind. When I travel the state I hear people say we should invest in our public schools, level the playing field for the middle class, promote good-paying jobs and invest in our roads and bridges.

The truth is the state is being neglected by Republicans putting their own needs above the needs of everyday Wisconsinites.

Last year, legislative Republicans turned their backs on Wisconsin’s interests in order to help Governor Walker in his failed run for president.

The Republican agenda included:

  • Shifting $800 million from public schools to unaccountable private voucher schools over the next decade;
  • A quarter billion dollar cut to our world-class university system;
  • Driving down wages for hardworking families;
  • And rejecting federal funding that would have meant health care coverage for tens of thousands more of our citizens.

This past fall, Republicans opened Wisconsin for corruption with an agenda designed to consolidate their own power and enrich the special interest groups bankrolling their campaigns. Perhaps most egregious was their late-night, secretive effort to dismantle our open records laws so they could hide their actions from the public.

It is clear after that Republicans cannot be trusted to do the right thing for the people of Wisconsin.

The difference between Democrats and Republicans at this juncture could not be clearer. My Democratic colleagues and I have made growing our economy and rebuilding the middle class our top priorities.

Our “Economic Opportunity Agenda” would help create good-paying jobs, close the skills gap by connecting workers with available jobs, increase wages and make us more competitive in a global economy. Our “Bring Back the Middle Class” package would boost retirement security and provide relief from high child-care costs and student debt.

Democrats voted for proposals that would ensure significant investments in our public schools and affordable health care coverage for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites that, incidentally, would save Wisconsin taxpayers more than $300 million over the next two years. Democrats also voted for much-needed relief for more than a million student loan borrowers and equal pay protections for women in the workplace.

Sadly, Republicans rejected every single one of these bills.

Yet even in the face of Republicans’ inaction on these important issues and their betrayal of your trust and your interests, I believe the State of the People of Wisconsin is resilient.

I am inspired every day by the hardworking men and women who make up the fabric of our state. Wisconsin is in need of bold action for our workers and middle-class families and Democrats are ready to lead.

As Republicans continue to stack the deck against ordinary Wisconsinites and obscure their harmful agenda with election-year distractions, Democrats are focused on leveling the playing field and rebuilding the middle class the Republican agenda has hurt so deeply.

You can trust Democrats to restore opportunity and grow wages for ordinary, hardworking people.

You can trust Democrats to work to rebuild a strong middle class.

You can trust Democrats to grow an economy that works for everyone, not just a privileged few.

While legislative Republicans pursue an agenda focused on helping special interests and their own self-interests, legislative Democrats will continue to advocate for the people’s agenda in 2016 and beyond – but we need your help.

One of the proudest moments of 2015 was when you rose up and demanded the Republicans end their assault on open records. Your hard work and advocacy forced Republicans to back down, and you can do it again.

I encourage you to talk to your neighbors, friends and families about the direction our state is headed. Become engaged and make your voice heard. Together, we can put Wisconsin back on the right track and make sure the State of our State is stronger for all our citizens.

Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, is minority leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

4 thoughts on “Op-Ed: The Walker Agenda Is Failing”

  1. K Hadley says:

    The Republicans will remain in control of the state house and most local county positions since the state Democrats are reluctant to run candidates in districts they perceive as being unwinnable. Not running a candidate is voter suppression at its worse. A Democrat in Waukesha county has no voice or chance to express their voice due to the Democratic party’s lack of action.. This is multiplied all over the state. What ultimately will happen is that state wide races will go Republican, we will re-elect Sen. Johnson if the Democrats leave too many seats uncontested. The Democrats will just stay home.

  2. JayS says:

    Roads and Bridges have relativity long useful lives. They don’t just fail overnight. The Marquette Interchange and Zoo interchange were/are about 50 years old at their respective re-build. Any concrete evidence that the Democrats have been any better at preparing financially for the extensive Road and Bridge re-build we face v. the Republicans?

    You can’t trust the Democrats or the Republicans to promise and produce to that promise; let alone for it to be a competent outcome with the highest of economic utility.

  3. Tom D says:

    JayS, the Hoan Bridge has lasted much less than 50 years.

    It opened in 1977 (5 years after it was completed). It was rebuilt starting in 2001 (after nearly collapsing in December 2000) and now, just 15 years later, needs a total re-hab AGAIN.

  4. Harald Dalibor says:

    Mr. Barca, if you would open your mind to what is really happening, you might see more than your biased opinion spreading untruths here. The schools have the tools to do what they need now. Those that took the initiative to actually use the Act 10 items, are thriving. It’s areas like Milwaukee and others that decided to extend contracts with unions before the Act took effect that are hurting, because they couldn’t see the good in the outcome of their new positions. As for the roads, I see work being done daily on the Zoo Interchange. I also see work not being done, because, when your infamous leader Gov. Doyle was in office, he illegally stole money from the Department of Transportation to fill his own pockets with “favors” for his cronies. I’m surprised you didn’t get any of that money, or did you? Would be interesting to see what a John Doe investigation into your schemes would come up with.

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