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ERPENBACH COLUMN: Setting the record straight on the state budget
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ERPENBACH COLUMN: Setting the record straight on the state budget

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On July 15, a Scott Frostman opinion piece was published that unfortunately provided inaccurate information on the state budget while also leaving out some key details.

I will start by saying that he was right and that I did in fact vote against the budget Republicans drafted. Despite overwhelming public support for Gov. Tony Evers’ state budget proposal that prioritized a successful economic recovery for the state, the Republican budget proposal settled for much less.

This last year was difficult, to say the least. Families, schools, and small businesses in every corner of Wisconsin dealt with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. While individuals struggled to make ends meet, and businesses shuttered their doors, Republicans in the Legislature sat on their hands for 264 days and said there was nothing the state could do to help.

It wasn’t true then and it wasn’t true during the budget process. The fact of the matter is Gov. Evers’ original budget proposal seized an historic opportunity to capture funds to invest in families, strengthen communities and ensure a prosperous economic bounce-back.

Wisconsin deserves to have our tax dollars reinvested back in our communities, not in some other state. Simply put, the budget Republicans drafted rejected money that belongs to our state and was disappointing compared to what was originally introduced by the governor.

Families, schools, and small businesses deserve and depend on a responsible budget that invests in our priorities. While Republicans attempt to spread the false message that they are doing more for schools, more for health care, more for kids, we know that they are not telling the whole truth, because Wisconsin missed the opportunity to invest more.

It’s no secret that the budget Legislative Republicans sent to the governor fell short in many key areas, particularly when it came to our schools. With all due respect, this is where Frostman missed the mark. The measure to deposit $550 million to the rainy day fund wasn’t specifically designated for schools or any other purpose. The governor’s actions moved that money into the General Fund making it more accessible to disperse to our local schools, should Republicans feel so inclined.

Additionally, he fails to mention that Republicans voted against a Democrat motion that included a $1.2 billion property tax cut.

It should also be worth noting that board members for the MacIver Institute have made significant contributions towards Republicans and conservative candidates. The organization’s primary donor is the Bradley Foundation, a conservative powerhouse that focuses on opposition research centers, conservative media, and what some refer to as shadow governments. An important detail that would show they are the furthest thing from being nonpartisan.

While Frostman may be critical of the governor’s original budget proposal, I can assure you that those very proposals were indeed a wish list for Wisconsinites. We needed those bold, innovative solutions in order to move our state forward and make Wisconsin a place where future generations want to work and live. The Republican budget missed opportunities to invest in classrooms, allocating only 1/10th of the resources to schools that Gov. Evers did, expand BadgerCare while securing an additional $1.6 billion for our state and ensure Wisconsinites have access to clean drinking water.

Although Gov. Evers was able to make necessary modifications to sign a budget that better reflects the needs of our state, the Republican budget that was sent to his desk fell short.

Sen. Jon Erpenbach represents the 27th Senate District in the Wisconsin Legislature and can be reached by phone at 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027 or email sen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov.

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