Milwaukee Democrats Highlight Jobs, Education as Budget Priorities

Feb 7, 2017

Milwaukee Democrats have unveiled their wish list for the next state budget as Gov. Walker prepares to deliver his Wednesday. The governor is expected to propose a fix for the transportation deficit and allocate more money for schools. Democrats say they hope to work with Republicans on some issues.

Yet, Dems are not happy with much of what Walker has already revealed about his proposed budget. Number one on Milwaukee Democrats’ list of priorities for the next state budget: jobs.

Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa says Gov. Walker’s efforts to jump-start the economy continue to lag behind the rest of the country. “Job creation is stagnant, factories are closing their doors and leaving the state and the formation of innovative small business startups in Wisconsin ranks dead last in the nation. The disparity between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow and people across this great state are struggling to find quality family supporting jobs,” she says.

Zamarripa calls for tax incentives that she says would help grow small businesses and create jobs.

Another issue local Democrats say concerns them is education. State Sen. Chris Larson says that while Gov. Walker’s budget is expected to contain more than $500,000,000 in new spending for schools, it doesn’t go far enough. He says the state is still reeling from the massive cuts the governor made to K-12 in 2011.

“We witnessed the largest cut to education in state history. Even with the governor patting himself on the back this past weekend and pretending to restore some of those funds, we’re still not to the point of funding that we were when he took office. So, to be clear, we are still operating in a values deficit. The governor would have to put in another $300 million annually just to get to where we were before he took office,” Larson says.

Larson says Democrats will push for more money for K-12 schools.

Party members say another priority of theirs is transportation and plugging a $1 billion hole in the DOT budget. Rep. David Crowley says the shortfall and the condition of state roads are unacceptable.

“Infrastructure is the key to a healthy economy. Wisconsin roads are currently ranked the third worst in the nation. We need long term sensible solutions that will save taxpayer money and at the same time, support those industries that are vital to ensuring a robust economic future,” he says.

Crowley says his constituents have told him they’re open to all the ideas elected leaders are batting around, regarding how to plug the transportation gap.

“They say that everything is on the table. Gas tax, toll roads and other fees. They think that we need to do something and we need to do something very fast as it relates to our transportation system and we need to figure out how to do this together, rather than just one party,” he says.

Some Republican legislators have said the state must raise more revenue for roads. Gov. Walker has said he won’t approve any hikes in fees or taxes unless lawmakers cut other areas of the budget.

On Wednesday, we’ll find out how specifically the governor wants the state to proceed.