Reps in the News: State Budget Support, Education, Medicaid

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Kitchens put his support behind the 2019-21 state budget that was passed by the Wisconsin State Assembly.

“The budget approved by the Assembly and Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed budget have a lot in common in terms of the priorities for helping all our residents across the state,” Kitchens said. “I strongly believe that we all want to fix our roads, we all want to improve education and we all want to take care of our elderly and disabled. The main difference, however, is our budget accomplishes all those things in a more responsible and sustainable manner. We don’t rely nearly as much on borrowing and increasing taxes like the governor does, which helps set us up for a better chance of success in the future.”

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the spending plan being proposed by Gov. Evers would lead to a structural deficit of $1.96 billion heading into the next session. The governor’s budget also would raise taxes, fees and revenue enhancements by $1.3 billion, the largest increase since 2009. The $83.5 billion, two-year budget passed by the Assembly cuts income taxes by $500 million and provides $60 million in property tax relief aid, all while still making sound investments in education, transportation and health care. The budget increases funding by $604 per public school student over the biennium, which is the same amount being requested by Gov. Evers. The spending plan also commits more funding than the governor for local road aids, nursing homes, personal care workers, and Family Care direct caregivers.

“No legislator is ever happy with every single item in a budget, but overall, this is a well-thought-out and fiscally responsible budget that should benefit all Wisconsinites,” Kitchens said. “Because of that, I am honored to support it.” 

Source: Kitchens press release

Governor Tony Evers

The results of a survey of Wisconsin voters sponsored by One Wisconsin Now finds Gov. Tony Evers and Democrats with a strong advantage on education issues. Public Policy Polling conducted the poll of 801 state voters June 14-16. Among the key findings are that a majority of voters trusts Gov. Evers and Democrats versus Republicans on education issues; there is significant concern about the impact of a statewide teacher shortage; and the public strongly supports several actions to help address the teacher-shortage issue.

Key findings highlighted in a memo prepared by Public Policy Polling include:

• 66 percent of voters consider the teacher shortage in Wisconsin public schools to be a serious problem. A plurality of 35 percent consider it to be a very serious problem.

• 53 percent of voters support changing state law to allow teachers to negotiate benefits and working conditions and to remove limits on public school teachers negotiating with school districts for pay increases; 30 percent oppose it.

• Wisconsin voters support Governor Evers’ proposal for a $600 million increase in state funding for special education by a 15-point margin, with 53 percent of voters in support and 38 percent in opposition.


Senator Tammy Baldwin

Sen. Baldwin, Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) recently led a letter, signed by 15 of their colleagues, calling on President Trump to stop undermining the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid if he is serious about addressing the high cost of prescription drugs.

“The actions by your Administration to sabotage, slash and undermine Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act have already resulted in higher out-of-pocket costs for individuals and families in need of prescription drugs to remain healthy,” the senators wrote. “We urge you to protect comprehensive health-care coverage through Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act for our nation’s children, seniors, people with disabilities and families to make sure drugs are affordable for everyone.”  

Since President Trump has taken office, 7 million fewer people have health insurance coverage, according to data released by Gallup in January. Attacks on Medicaid threaten the prescription-drug coverage of more than 75 million people.

Source: Baldwin press release

Senator Ron Johnson

Sen. Johnson received little support on Tuesday when he tried to get technology experts to admit that major social-media platforms are biased against conservatives. While talking with assorted experts on artificial intelligence and algorithms, Johnson said that he had his staff members go to Politico’s Instagram account to record which other recommendations the app gave them after following it.

According to Johnson, the vast majority of recommendations that came back were for news websites such as the Washington Post or progressive outlets such as the Huffington Post, and none were for right-wing websites such as Breitbart.

Stephen Wolfram, founder and CEO of Wolfram Research, scoffed at Johnson’s claim of bias and said it was more likely that Instagram delivered liberal recommendations to Politico followers because those followers were more likely to follow neutral or progressive political news websites in the first place.

Johnson also complained that the articles of many conservative news groups are removed from social-media feeds, but Rashida Richardson, director of policy research at AI Now Institute, said research shows that most of these articles were removed because they contained demonstrably false information.


President Donald Trump

President Trump responded Wednesday to the news that former special counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly before two House committees about his probe into Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 election by saying, “Well, my reaction is it never ends.” The president made the comment on Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria Bartiromo and launched into his frustrations and claims of vindication over the Russia investigation.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced the July 17 testimony on Tuesday night. They said they issued subpoenas to bring Mueller, the special counsel who oversaw the Justice Department’s investigation, before the House.

Mueller’s public appearance will bring a spectacle rarely seen during the nearly two-year investigation that ended in March. The special counsel avoided public comment on the probe until the release of a redacted, 400-plus-page report detailing Russia’s efforts to influence the election and instances of Trump potentially trying to derail the investigation. Mueller then gave remarks to reporters last month, reinforcing the report’s findings and saying he would not speak publicly about it any further.