In Febuary 2011, Gov Scott Walker dropped a bomb on WI Citizens and taxpayers. The “Budget Repair Bill” took money, services and rights from middle class and working families, students, children, City and County Services, Bus Lines, the elderly, the disabled, and the environment.
These groups, when you add them together make up the vast majority of Oshkosh, Winnebago County and the Great State of WI.
This package of bills in the initial ‘special session’ of the WI Legislature not only removed these rights, funds and services from those who most need and deserve them, but the series of bills turned many of these funds over the wealthiest and least needing of these funds.
Gov. Scott Walker did not do this alone; he had a well-placed ally in the WI State Senate and on the powerful joint finance committee - Senator Randy Hopper.
But, I would like to clear the air. Many people have since said that Senator Randy Hopper was following Gov. Scott Walker without question – going along with marching orders from his party and his Governor. I disagree, I do not think that was what Senator Hopper was ‘going along’.
Senator Hopper was leading the way on these family and job destroying policies. He was a co-sponsor or author of many of them.
Now, as Scott Walker’s anti-WI, anti-poor, anti-family, anti-worker, anti-job budget is released from Sen Hopper’s Joint Finance Committee, it is no longer Gov Walker’s budget, It is Senator Randy Hopper’s Budget.
Randy Hopper supported most of the anti-WI Family, Student, and Community provisions in the budget, and made several of them worse.
He has also introduced legislation and budget amendments gutting the State of WI’s ability to collect revenue funding services for City Busses, plowing, garbage collection, County Human Services for the frail elderly, vulnerable disabled and birth to 3 development programs, to name a few.
His attack on worker and family rights to make a decent middle class living will not only harm those workers and families, but as I stand here on the gateway to the revitalized Oshkosh Main St, I am reminded that everyone of these families, elderly, disabled individuals and students are their customers. The shock to Oshkosh’s economy when the city can no longer afford to run the busses that bring their customers here, and if they get here, these customers will no longer have the funds to shop at their places of business.
You see, this is where jobs are created in the markets and by everyday consumers. By limiting funds to cities and counties, the services we provide to encourage local business will stop. By cutting pay and protections of state workers, we not only lose the money they spend in the local economy, but the comparables that are used for pay in the private sector locally. The pay scale of a professional working in the Bank Building across the street is directly affected by the pay of professionals at the university.
When Rany Hopper cut the Homestead Credit for people who earn less than $24,500 a year and the Earned Income Tax Credit – a $20 million dollar tax increase on working families he denies Oshkosh business the local funds that many families spend here on Main St, Oregon St, the frontage roads and throughout our local economy. These are jobs, revenues for schools and security for our citizens that Randy Hopper has shipped away.
I will end my remarks with the statement I made to Sen Hopper’s Committee on Joint Finance at the Neenah hearing: “The budget is a moral statement.” Sen Randy Hopper has decided it is moral to balance the budget at the expense of the vulnerable, students, city and county services and all, public and private who go to work every day hoping their sweat, time, talent and knowledge will create a better future for their families and communities.
Those are not Oshkosh Morals. Those are not Winnebago County Values.
And that is not the WI Heritage I learned.