Building a Wisconsin Where Millennials and Generation Xers Thrive
“Wisconsin is one of the most moved-out-of states in the nation. We can change that and become a leader again — a place where younger workers and families are eager to live, work, and play. We don’t need gimmicks and ad campaigns – we need affordable housing, mass transit, and student loan debt relief. Let’s build a vibrant, diverse, and thriving Wisconsin by making our state a destination for younger workers and families.”
Pass common sense gun safety laws to reduce gun violence. We must stop only offering thoughts and prayers, and start doing something about gun violence. To address our nation’s horrible problem, it is essential that we implement effective reduction strategies. I support proposals that will require universal background checks for all gun sales, closing the private party and gun show loopholes. I support prohibiting people on the terrorist watch list from buying weapons, and anyone convicted of a violent crime, including a domestic violence misdemeanor, from possessing firearms. We must allow for “Red Flag” laws so family members or law enforcement can petition a judge to temporarily suspend someone’s gun buying privileges if they are a potential danger to themselves or others. And we can’t stop there, Wisconsin’s 48 hour waiting period must be reinstated, this is especially important for preventing domestic violence and suicides. Click to read more on this issue.
Invest in the 21st Century infrastructure we need to succeed in a global economy. The US Census reported that 40% of Millennials in the US are unemployed, and we need to start doing more for our young people to strengthen the economy and lower that percentage. For Wisconsin to succeed in the global economy, we need to invest in 21st century infrastructure. We need statewide broadband connectivity, wireless infrastructure, and computing power. Wisconsin will continue to fall behind without this technology. Click to read more on this issue.
Invest in public education for all Wisconsin’s children. We still have more to do to reverse decades of Republican cuts our schools and restore public education as a core priority for Wisconsin. We should invest our taxpayer dollars in public education, and fix the funding formula so our public schools are funded fairly and equitably. It’s time to end our failed decades-long experiment with voucher schools and stand up to school privatizers and profiteers. The most important factor in a child’s success is the teacher at the front of the room. We must attract the best and brightest young people to careers in education, and keep them in the classroom with adequate professional development and mentorship, sufficient prep time, and student debt forgiveness for taking on challenging teaching assignments. We must free our children and our teachers from the tyranny of constant standardized testing. While benchmark testing can be a useful tool, in recent years the corporate testing industry has exploded – teachers are losing valuable instructional time, students and parents are frustrated, and results are used to punish low-income schools and students rather than help them.
Free 2 year college and increased higher education funding. For Wisconsin to compete, we must invest in our future through education. Wisconsin should make two year schools and technical colleges free, creating opportunity for students throughout the state that may not have the support they need. Several other states have experienced increases in the number of students, especially from low-income households, by utilizing a “last dollar” scholarship that minimizes the cost to the state and increases career and earning prospects of people who otherwise might not be able to afford higher ed. Our students deserve this kind of support. Read more on my ideas for education.
Accept federal Medicaid expansion dollars. Rejecting federal healthcare money has cost our state a lot: over $1 billion in healthcare funds, 10,000 lost healthcare jobs, and nearly 80,000 Wisconsinites lost access to affordable health care.
Ensure culturally competent, non-discriminatory care for all populations. We must work to eliminate healthcare disparities based on race, class, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity, age, or any other factor. Every person deserves access to high quality care. Politicians should never interfere in private medical decisions.
Guarantee reproductive health care access. I have been a champion for reproductive rights and justice my entire career. Women and men deserve access to comprehensive healthcare, including the full spectrum of reproductive healthcare, from family planning and contraception, to healthy pregnancy and birth, to abortion care, to the right to parent healthy children. Politicians should never interfere with the most personal, private, family healthcare decisions. Click to read more on this issue.
Increase wages for workers to reduce poverty and spur demand. A minimum wage of $7.25 is not a living wage. No one working 40, 50 or 60 hours a week should be in poverty. Our minimum wage should be raised over time to $15 an hour, and we should eliminate the tipped minimum wage, which leaves service workers open to harassment and discrimination. In Wisconsin, unfortunately, women and children are disproportionately likely to live in poverty. Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour and eliminating the tipped minimum wage would drastically reduce the number of women (and their children) who make up the working poor. In addition, we should strengthen the social safety net, so that it provides a meaningful opportunity for people to reach economic security. Too many workers have to turn down opportunities for advancement – whether hourly wage raises or promotions or educational opportunities – so their families don’t lose needed benefits like food, healthcare or childcare assistance. Public programs should gradually phase out as income and self-sufficiency increases.
Paid family leave and affordable, flexible childcare. We can make Wisconsin the best place to raise a family by passing universal paid family and sick leave, allowing ALL Wisconsinites – women and men, employees and self-employed, 12 weeks of paid leave to bond with a new baby or adopted child, to recover from illness, or to take time off to care for an ill or dying loved one. We must also help address the high cost of childcare by expanding access to Wisconsin’s childcare subsidy program and increasing the quality of childcare options that meet the needs of Wisconsin’s changing workforce. We should make high quality early childhood education universal, including play-based 3K and 4K. These policies will ensure that every child gets a great start in life, and that every parent has time to bond with their children and the comfort of knowing that their children have a safe and nurturing place to go when the parent is working. Supporting parents in the early years will help ease the high cost of childcare that keeps many women who would like to return to work from continuing to do so. Ensuring parental leave for men as well as women helps establish parenting patterns and shared responsibilities that ensure fathers are more engaged for years to come. Click to read more on this issue.
Advance equal pay protections. As a State Representative, I co-authored Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Protection Act, which makes it easier for victims of pay discrimination to have their day in court – a law which Scott Walker repealed. Equal pay means that women and men who do the same work should receive the same wages. We must also address pay equity, which means valuing work traditionally done by women as much as work of comparable value that is traditionally done by men. Women in Wisconsin still lag behind men in terms of pay equity, and for women of color and other marginalized groups, the pay disparities are even greater. These economic issues affect not just women, but their partners and families – and not just during a woman’s working life, since women who earn less pay less into social security and have less to save for retirement. Click to read more on this issue.
Offer universal early childhood education. The more we learn about brain development, the more we’ve understood how critical the early years are, particularly birth through age 5. Wisconsin should address the high cost of childcare by expanding the availability of early childhood education. We should make 3K and 4K universally available to all children in Wisconsin. This will not only ensure that all kids have a safe environment in which to play and develop emotionally, socially, and intellectually, but it will help prevent racial and economic disparities, and help parents with the huge cost of childcare. Click to read more on this issue.
ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION
Environmental law and order must be restored. We can no longer ignore the reality of climate change. Combating climate change is our century’s challenge and it cannot be delayed any longer. Our state has no fossil fuels, so every dollar we spend on dirty energy leaves our state and contributes to climate change. Clean, renewable energy is the future of our state. Investments in renewable energy will not only help protect our environment, but also create much needed high-wage jobs right here in Wisconsin. We can make Wisconsin a strong leader in renewable energy technology. Our highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and world class research institutions put Wisconsin in a great position to lead on the creation and implementation of new, clean energy technology.
Public spaces must be preserved and protected. Wisconsin has many beautiful parks and public lands for conservation and recreation. We must preserve Wisconsin’s diverse landscapes, from wetlands to forests to beaches to prairies, and make them accessible to all users in all seasons. Read more on my plans for Environment and Conservation.
EQUALITY AND CIVIL RIGHTS
There is no place for discrimination in Wisconsin. It is essential to consider the impact of policies on people who are members of marginalized groups, and will do so as a state senator. We need to protect reproductive rights, rights for LGBTQUIA+ people, human rights for all immigrants, and people with disabilities. We also must address the persistent racial disparities that plague our state. I will combat discrimination and inequity. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who build a more just and inclusive world through our words and actions, rather than fomenting fear, hatred, and division. We must work to eliminate disparities based on race, class, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, immigration status, religion, family status, age, or any other factor. Wisconsin should welcome everyone. Click to read more on my plans for Equality and Civil Rights.
Adults should be free to use cannabis, medicinal and recreational, – not ticketed or imprisoned. Legalizing and regulating cannabis offers economic, medical, environmental, and social and criminal justice benefits. The criminalization of cannabis has served as a factor in Wisconsin’s shameful racial disparities, and while legalizing cannabis and expunging misdemeanors will not correct Wisconsin’s unequal system of criminal justice, these are important and easy steps we must take to repair it. Legalizing cannabis will allow for Wisconsin farmers to grow industrial hemp and cannabis, which are very versatile cash crops. Click to read more my plans for Cannabis.