Iron County Progressive

 

 


Weekly News From Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair 

 We’ve fought for fair maps. We will never stop fighting for fair maps. But last Friday night, the Wisconsin state Supreme Court chose to inflict a set of GOP-drawn legislative maps on our state that are anything but fair

 Our job is to channel our outrage at this travesty into fuel to renew our fight for democracy. 

 Normally, when courts choose maps, they go with a middle path—neither gerrymandered to favor Republicans nor Democrats. Not here, and not this time. As democracy scholar Rob Yablon wrote, “ the new legislative maps from the WI Supreme Court look to be far and away the most politically skewed court-imposed maps anywhere in the country for at least 20+ years.” 

 Yablon went on to write that, when federal courts last redistricted Wisconsin, “they stressed that judges ‘should not select a plan that seeks partisan advantage,’ and they cast aside maps with evident ‘partisan origins.’”

 Not here. And not this time. After the US Supreme Court’s deeply controversial shadow-docket ruling that, in a severe blow to the Voting Rights Act, struck down the previous set of maps adopted by our state legislature (read an excellent analysis of that ruling here), the GOP-backed 4-3 majority on our state Supreme Court chose a set of maps created by Republican politicians with the sole goal of protecting their political power against accountability to voters.

 This makes our battle that much harder. And it makes it that much more important. 

 If you were thinking about running for state legislature but wanted to wait until you saw the maps—run. We need candidates everywhere. To fight and win districts. To demonstrate, through the vote totals, how skewed these maps are. And to turn out voters who can help us reelect Governor Evers and AG Kaul, beat Ron Johnson, and win statewide victories that will be critical to democracy. Democratic state legislative candidates in 2020, win or lose, helped us beat Donald Trump. We all owe them a debt of gratitude. To save democracy in our state, we need your help now. 

 What’s more—I was grateful for the feedback after 2020 that candidates in every district needed support. So this cycle, I’m proud to share that—on top of the in-kind organizing and other support that the party provided to every Democratic candidate last year—this year, the party will also be investing directly in the candidacy of every non-incumbent Democratic nominee. 

 If you know someone who is thinking about running—urge them to get off the fence, and promise to them that you’ll help however you can. Check in with the Assembly or Senate Democratic Caucus about their work to ensure there is a candidate in your district. If you’re in a place with an incumbent Democrat, check in with friends in other areas to see if you can help them. It’s go time. 

 The extraordinary movement that has been fighting for fair maps for the last decade has made enormous progress in redefining this issue and raising it to public awareness. I tweeted about this movement’s critical work here, and I will keep lifting it up. The state Supreme Court’s outrageous decision must not only energize our work this fall, but also next spring—when it’s critical that we win a majority on that crucial body. 

 It’s beyond clear that the foes of democracy will not give an inch. They will go to extreme lengths to lock in their own power and avoid any iota of public accountability. But they underestimate our resolve. They underestimate the fury of voters. They underestimate the strength inherent in the ideals of democratic self-government. They may not realize it—but we will win. Our belief in the power of the people cannot be deterred—and you, and I, and all of us in this movement will never stop marching forward. 

In solidarity, 

Ben 

FIGHT 

Ron Johnson’s Disastrous Tax Day 

This Tax Day, while Ron Johnson was doubling down on defending a special tax break that he now admits benefited himself and his biggest donors, Rep. Gordon Hintz, Chair Wikler and Wisconsin voters braved the weather to rally outside Johnson’s Oshkosh office. The Tax Day rally protested Johnson’s support of the GOP’s 2022 agenda, which would raise taxes on 32% of Wisconsinites and sunset Medicare and Social Security. 

 While Democrats in Congress have worked to pass critical legislation supporting local businesses, cutting taxes for working families and capping insulin costs, Ron Johnson and his fellow Republican politicians have worked to rig the tax code in a way to benefit himself and his biggest donors.

 News also broke this week that two of Johnson’s biggest donors, Liz and Dick Uihlein – the same donors who claimed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks thanks to Johnson’s efforts – donated another $280,000 to Johnson’s re-election efforts. Hard working Wisconsinites are sick of Johnson’s self-serving agenda and voters in his hometown made sure to convey the message to him through their Tax Day rally.  

State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh): “Time after time, Ron Johnson has treated people under two systems: one that doesn't have to pay taxes – one that gets out of it – and the rest of us. The fact that we are seeing – just when you thought it couldn't get any worse – Ron Johnson endorsing a GOP plan proposed to go after the middle-class and working-class and raise taxes on 32% of all Wisconsinites…”

WisDems Chair Ben Wikler: “On this Tax Day, we can all agree that working Wisconsinites shouldn't be paying for billionaires' tax bills…We can all agree that politicians like Ron Johnson, who give themselves giant tax cuts and give giant tax cuts to billionaires, should be out of a job come this November.”

 Rebecca Kleefisch’s History of Failing Wisconsin Students and Workforce

Thanks to Governor Tony Evers’ leadership and investment in our workforce, Wisconsin’s unemployment rates are at a record low, sitting at 2.8% after March. Despite the challenges of COVID-19 to Wisconsin’s economy, thanks to Gov. Evers’ leadership, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is below the national average. 

 This is in strong contrast to Rebecca Kleefisch’s record of failure on workforce issues. Though Kleefisch lists building a worker pipeline as part of her campaign platform, as lieutenant governor,, Kleefisch supported a $7.1 million cut to Wisconsin’s technical college system’s funding — a cut that’s 30% of their funding. This was on top of her support for a $250 million cut from the UW system.

 Kleefisch was also happy to support tax breaks for wealthy donors and large corporations. She even told them, behind closed doors, “we want to know how we can love you more.” It’s clear where Kleefisch’s priorities are and they’re certainly not supporting the next generation entering the workforce. 

 Gov. Evers’ understands that Wisconsin colleges are at the forefront of filling jobs across the state and recovering from the pandemic. His latest budget proposed an increase of $36 million in technical colleges over the next two years and secured an increase for technical schools, universities and and K-12 education. 

Despite what Rebecca Kleefisch might claim, it’s clear from her record of failure on workforce issues where she really stands. 

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg Visits Coloma, Wisconsin

This week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Wisconsin, highlighting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s once-in-a-generation investment to our state’s infrastructure. Over the next five years, the state is expected to receive over $5 billion from the Biden-Harris administration which will rebuild roads and bridges, ensure clean drinking water to every home across the state and deliver high-speed internet to rural communities. 

 Secretary Buttigieg met with Governor Evers, union leaders and high school students in Coloma, discussing how the infrastructure law will build upon the work Gov. Evers’ has done in Wisconsin to improve infrastructure and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin. The combined effort of the Biden-Harris administration and Gov. Evers is setting the Badger State to be more competitive in the 21st century. 




 

A Message from State Senator

Chris Larson

t’s a rare event that only comes around once in a hundred years. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board has identified a new species: The Wausau Squatter. No, it’s not some new type of waterfowl, it’s a new breed of Wisconsin Republican politician exemplified by DNR Board member Fred Prehn, a Wausau dentist who moonlights as an antique arms dealer among other things.

On Sunday, it will be exactly 1 year since Prehn’s term on the Natural Resources Board expired, yet the Wausau Squatter not only remains on the body, he has cast the deciding vote to block any groundwater standards for PFAs in Wisconsin, and to set the public drinking water standard at over 3 times the level recommended by scientists (70 ppt instead of 20 ppt).

But wait, you might say - didn’t Governor Evers appoint a replacement? Why yes, yes he did. Sandra Naas, an eminently qualified candidate, was appointed over a year ago but the obstructionist GOP State Senate has refused to give her a public hearing, much less an up-or-down vote. So here we sit (pun intended), one year later, with the Wausau Squatter undermining the safety of our water thanks to a Republican legislature that loves nothing more than to undermine Governor Evers at the expense of the people of Wisconsin.

One organism by itself does not a species make. There’s always the potential that the Wausau Squatter is some sort of genetic mutation, unable to be replicated in the wild. Sadly, that’s not the case. Dozens of Evers appointees remain in limbo for no apparent reason other than politics. Think of it as the Mitch McConnell strain of cynical politics: hold as many seats open until your side is in the Executive office, functioning democracy be damned. Luckily, we don’t have to let them get away with it.
Some, like DHS Secretary Designee Karen Timberlake, are able to go about their business pretty much as they normally would, save for the title of “designee,” and the worry that at any moment Republicans could call a vote to remove her.

Others, like appointments to the UW Board of Regents and Wausau Squatter replacement Sandra Naas are forced to sit on the sidelines while obstructionists with expired terms are allowed to squat indefinitely as Republicans attempt to run out the clock on the Evers governorship.

We can’t let them get away with it! Legal proceedings are already underway, but the most surefire way to hold Republicans accountable for the Wausau Squatter and other forms of obstruction is to ensure that Governor Evers is re-elected, and for Wisconsin Democrats to outrun the rigged maps to save the veto by preventing a two-thirds Republican majority in both houses.

I’m up for re-election this fall, and we know that every seat matters to protect our institutions and prevent people like the Wausau Squatter from having their way.