State News: Senator Removed from State Budget Committee

Schimel Conference Attendance Questioned

State records show the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a conservative Christian organization, spent nearly $4,000 to cover Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel’s travel to the California conference in July. The statement indicates ADF also paid Schimel a $300 honorarium. The Southern Poverty Law Center has classified ADF as an extremist hate group that supports criminalizing homosexuality.

Democrat Josh Kaul is challenging Schimel in November’s elections. He says it’s unacceptable for Schimel to participate in a conference put on by such a “virulently anti-gay” organization. Schimel campaign manager Matthew Dobler said Schimel spoke about state sovereignty and free speech.


Immigration May Offer Solution to Worker Shortage

While calls to curb immigration remain a part of the national rhetoric, with Wisconsin’s record low unemployment rate, more immigration may be necessary for the economy to grow, says David Haynes, editorial page editor at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

For a second month, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate sits at 2.9 percent, its lowest since July 1999. Combine that with an estimated 10,000 baby boomers retiring each day nationwide and a competitive market among employers, and the state may struggle to fill open jobs, he said.   

“If you look at 15-20 years down the road, unless we make some changes and attract more people of some kind, we’re going to have large swaths of the state that are in retirement,” he said. “That is a problem for states in the upper Midwest, Wisconsin isn’t alone.”

Those jobs largely fall within the manufacturing industry, Haynes said. About 1 in 4 Wisconsin manufacturing workers are at least 55 years old, which equals out to about 125,000 workers in a key industry.

Those issues are intensified in Wisconsin because of a lower-than-average national birth rate – and struggles to attract workers from other states, Haynes said.

That’s where immigration comes into play to help fill those gaps, he said.

“Immigrant labor tends to be younger people who replenish the workforce,” Haynes said. “We have a workforce that’s aging pretty rapidly … and that’s a real advantage of immigrants.”


Senator Removed from State Budget Committee

Milwaukee Democrat Lena Taylor was removed Tuesday from the state’s powerful budget-writing committee following a dispute with one of her staff.  

State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said she requested Taylor be removed from the Joint Finance Committee following the completion of an investigation into the conflict.

“No matter the workplace, we need to protect an employee’s right to bring forward concerns and ensure everyone is able to work in a safe, productive and welcoming environment,” Shilling said in a statement.

According to a statement from Taylor’s office, the senator and employee clashed over job requirements. Taylor said the “disgruntled employee” was paid $80,000 a year for a “no show, no work” policy that state Senate guidelines require be resolved in 80 days.

Taylor said she agreed with the action taken after the human resources investigation into the complaint, but was removed from the budget committee regardless.

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, has been named as Taylor’s replacement on the committee.

Taylor has also made headlines in recent weeks for being cited by the Milwaukee Police Department for using a racial insult in an altercation with a bank teller.


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