Advocating for Equal Opportunity Education Through Strong Public Schools
I am a longtime advocate of maintaining Wisconsin's strong public schools. As a State Representative and the ranking Democratic member on the Committee on Education, I've tirelessly fought to increase resources available to public school districts in order to attract the best and brightest teachers and administrators to give our kids the education they deserve. In this position I have also worked to enact a more responsible funding formula for our public schools, as well as increase accountability from taxpayer-funded private schools.
I am a firm believer in the educational directive of our State Constitution which states that:
"The legislature shall provide by law for the establishment of district schools, which shall be as nearly uniform as practicable; and such schools shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the ages of 4 and 20 years; and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein." - WI State Constitution, Article X section III
Following this directive, I have worked to ensure that more taxpayer dollars go to high-quality public schools rather than unaccountable, private, for-profit voucher schools.
Public Schools are the cornerstones of our communities. Preparing our kids for post-secondary education and/or the workforce should be a top priority. I will continue to support policies that put students, and educators, on the path to success. An investment in education is an investment in our future.
Important Issues in our Community
Ensuring Quality Health Care for All Wisconsinites
I have consistently supported Wisconsinites' access to high quality health care at an affordable price.
During the past legislative session, I advocated for expanding Medicaid, protecting our SeniorCare program, and ensuring a strong FamilyCare program for our elderly and disabled. I believe every Wisconsinite should have access to quality health care, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
Republicans continue to launch numerous attacks on women's access to health care. Included in these attacks were bills to close community health clinics like Planned Parenthood, limit women's access to basic reproductive health services, and invade in private health decisions. I stand vehemently opposed to these attacks, and will continue to fight for the right of women to make their own health decisions.
Addressing Racial Inequity/Police Brutality
Recent events have brought more light to what has been going on for centuries in America - systemic and institutionalized racism. This has most disproportionately affected black Americans in nearly every facet of life. These most notably include education, housing, incarceration, and relations with law enforcement. In the past few legislative sessions, I have supported policies that aim to close the educational achievement gaps, raise working wages, reduce incarceration rates, and to hold law enforcement accountable for brutality. I will continue to fight for equality and justice and support policies that provide equity, compassion, and reflection to our state.
Creating Family-Supporting Jobs
I support and have advocated for policies that ensure that our middle class stays strong. Wisconsin is built on a foundation of hard workers. I believe that their work should be rewarded at least with the ability to support their families and achieve economic independence. In that vein, I have supported legislation to raise the minimum wage.
In today's market, pursuing higher education is often necessary to secure a job. Accordingly, students should not be punished for pursuing higher education and opportunity. So I supported legislation - the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill - to allow student loan borrowers the ability to refinance their loans at a lower interest rate, the way you would a mortgage or car payment.
Additionally, I authored legislation to create a sensible paid family leave program in Wisconsin. My proposed paid family leave program would operate on a system of employee contribution, allowing individuals to take paid leave from a position without any negative affects to their employer. The need for a paid family leave program has becoming increasingly apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic as it impacts both physical and economic well-being. Many Wisconsin families have been forced to choose between economic security and the health of themselves, their family, and their community. This is unacceptable, and I will continue to fight for the paid family lave program.
Protecting our Constitutional Rights
The right to vote is essential to any democracy.
For years, Republicans have rolled back voters' rights in our state. This included the worst example of gerrymandering in the country, splitting legislative districts so significantly to eliminate your votes. They have enacted multiple measures to suppress voting, trying to stop our elderly, disabled, minority and low-income populations from voting.
Republicans made no effort to safeguard our most recent spring election and ensure that voters could safely cast a ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic. To avoid this chaos in the remaining 2020 elections, my Democratic colleagues and I put forth Vote by Mail legislation to ensure that clerks have enough time to prepare, send, and process absentee ballots, voters can safely cast a ballot, and postal service workers can anticipate their workload with absentee ballots. Unfortunately, are Republican-controlled Legislature is taking no action to protect the rights of voters during this time of uncertainty.
Standing in the way of the voting process is not only wrong, but unconstitutional. I have and will continue to support legislation that allows more voters to exercise their rights by encouraging automatic voter registration and argue against strict voter registration, ID and gerrymandering laws.
Improving Wisconsin's Water Quality
Water is essential to life. Clean water is essential to good health and is needed not only for consumption but irrigation, recreation, and countless other uses. Contamination has been a serious issue all over the state and especially in the 80th District.
Due to rural agriculture runoff, nitrates have contaminated wells and drinking water for many residents. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAs are man-made chemicals found in the production of many industry and consumer products. They do not break down easily and are very harmful to humans. Another area of concern is Polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) contamination, which runs off into rivers, and lakes, harming fish and aquatic life, in addition to increasing risk of cancer in humans. Lead poisoning due to old and eroding pipes is a problem all over the state, can be fatal, and disproportionately affects urban centers and children.
This past legislative session, I served on the Water Quality Task Force and helped author and pass a number of bipartisan bills that address these issues. I supported funding and expansion of eligibility for the well compensation grant program to help eliminate nitrates from drinking water, supported statewide protections from PFAs, and authored AB797 - a bipartisan bill banning PAH coal-tar based pavement sealants in WI. In addition, I advocated for increased testing for lead in schools and daycares and supported AB553 which gives school districts the ability to raise funds to replace aging facilities that often are the source of lead contamination. I also fought against industry-backed changes to WI's groundwater standards process (SB708). This bill was pushed by WMC in order to open the Department of Health Service's scientific review process to outside influence, jeopardizing scientific, objective, non-partisan methods of establishing rules regarding groundwater standards.
While I'm proud of the work we've done, there is still much to do. Every Citizen in Wisconsin deserves clean water and I will continue to work to make this a reality.