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Seeking Solutions for State Road Budget

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

A tall man stopped me in the hall of the Capitol. “Can’t you just increase the gas tax?” he asked me. “I’m here to ask my Republican Senator to increase the gas tax. We need to fix the roads.”

He smiled. Then said, “Hi, my name is Steve. I’m a Republican. I just don’t think it’s conservative to keep borrowing to maintain the roads. We’ve got to pay for what we spend.”

Steve was earnest in his desire to find a solution to the road budget. I’ve heard similar concerns from folks attending my recent town hall meetings.

Proposal Helps Veterans Become Farmers

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“As far back as WWI connecting soldiers with nature and farming has been used to treat the invisible wounds of war,” Mr. Brian Sales recently told members of the Senate Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee.

 

“Back then it was called shell shock. Today it’s called PTSD. No matter what it’s called, its effects are the same and what was true then is true now. Veterans need help and help is what I am here to talk about.”

 

In a bipartisan effort to bring more veterans into agriculture, Senators Testin, Ringhand, Representatives Goyke and Brooks introduced legislation called the Wisconsin Veterans Farm Bill of 2017. The bill calls for several state agencies to work together assisting veterans in both urban and rural communities. The proposal seeks to provide education, technical assistance, employment, and mentorship including connecting existing farmers with veterans who want to learn farming. Over forty percent of the legislature supports the bill as cosponsors, including myself.

 

A U.S. Army Infantry and combat veteran who served two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Kosovo, Mr. Sales captivated Senators with his story of how farming brought his life purpose.

We ask why Democrats are not winning. Gerrymandering is a large part of it.

Okay, llet's be honest. Gerryymandering is an American tradition. Whatever party is in power has always tried to gain the upper hand by organizing congressional districts to suit their needs. Packing and cracking of districts has happened for a very long time, and it helps to keep the winning party in power over the long term.

But something has changed. The ability to use computer power to set district boundaries (and the will to use them for that purpose) has resulted in districts in Wisconsin that make it next to impossible for party power to change in the local district. We see it time after time.  Good challenging candidates just lose because surmounting the party bias in their own home area is impossible.

Celebrating Wisconsin’s Dairyland

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“Do you still milk?” I asked Jim at a recent gathering. “No,” he told me. “My son tells me the most help I can be is to stay out of the way,” he joked. We both agreed that was hard. Dairying gets in your blood.

 

June is dairy month. A time to celebrate all we love about ‘America’s Dairyland’ – home to 1.28 million dairy cows, which is more than one cow for every five Wisconsinites.

 

Reminiscing with an old dairy farmer, you realize the love of cows and farming never really goes away. The smell of newly mowed hay or the glistening dew on the field of newly emerging corn brings back tangible memories. While the body is worn and weary, the mind still remembers the satisfaction of a job well done when every cow is milked and fed, the barn is clean and limed, and all the other farm animals are ready to settle in for the night.

What Choices Would You Make?

Kathleen Vinehout

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

In the next few weeks, state lawmakers are voting on how Wisconsin spends money over the next two years. The choices legislators make will affect our communities and our lives.

 

Lawmakers are working off a spending plan submitted by the Governor earlier this year. Changes have already been made to his proposal.

 

For example, the budget writing committee removed much of the new money for the University of Wisconsin System. Big spending cuts in the last budget forced, among other things, a reorganization of UW-Extension, which may leave local communities without their own Ag or 4-H agents.

 

This year, the Governor’s budget returned about one-sixth of that cut and ties the increase to new “performance” standards. However, majority party lawmakers cut that increase roughly in half and disapproved a small decrease in tuition.

AUDIT: WEDC Cannot Be Certain of Any Jobs Created or Retained

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Our state spends a great deal of money on economic development. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is responsible for overseeing much of the taxpayer money that goes to job creation.
 
A recently released audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) found that “WEDC cannot be certain about the number of jobs actually created or retained as a result of any awards that ended.”
 
By law, WEDC is required to report jobs created or retained. The agency meets the requirement through reports posted on its website. However, auditors found these data inaccurate.
 
“We found that the on-line data in January of 2017 included 183 jobs created and 1,082 jobs retained by recipients that had sold their operations in Wisconsin, ceased their operations in Wisconsin, or had withdrawn from their contracts before the contractually specified completion dates.

Dana Wachs/Kathleen Vinehout Budget Town Hall

This is the town hall meeting that Kathleen Vinehout and Dana Wacs held on May 20, 2017 in Eau Claire, WI. They covered a large range of different topics, mostly concentrating on healthcare and the transportation budget. A lively discussion follows.  There were some equipment issues in the midst of recording this so it is recorded on two different cameras. I've attempted to even up the video quality and sound levels a little bit - but didn't completely succeed. Hoping to be able to afford a little bit of equipment upgrade as part of the Wis.Community project.

Wachs/Vinehout Budget Town Hall

Uppitywis will be moving at some point

Just a quick note.  It's my intention to, some time in the next few months, move Uppity Wisconsin over to be one of the communities in WIs.community .  My goal here is to have one less web site to maintain, and to help out with the growth of the Wis.community platform.  This isn't going to be quick, it's currently a fairly low-level activity for me.

First the Good News!

David Clarke

Sheriff David A Clarke is leaving Milwaukee County and Wisconsin.

Now the bad news -- he's leaving to take a position as assistant secretary of Homeland Security. 

I am at the moment trying to imagine the working relationship between Clarke and John Kelly.  The Trump administration becomes more bizarre by the moment and continues to aim toward being dysfunctional. We'd been hearing rumors of this for month but it was hard to imagine  that this would actually happen, even with President Trump.  Perhaps, though, the county's sheriff's office will start to receive proper attention, and peole will stop dying mysteriously and horribly in the jail cells. 

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