Sen. Janet Bewley
Almost everywhere I go, people ask me about the massive tax breaks the governor gave Foxconn in southeast Wisconsin.
The latest round of Broadband Expansion Grant recipients was announced last week. People across Northwestern Wisconsin joined together to develop plans and submit applications in hopes that a grant would help bring high speed internet to their area. Chequamegon Communications Cooperative (Norvado) and the town of Barnes developed a plan; Price County Telephone Company worked with the town of Windsor on a proposal.
"It's quiet... too quiet." We've all heard that line in one movie or another. The halls of the state Capitol can have a ghostly quality when it's quiet. This makes the sounds of lobbyists' footsteps — the distinctive patter of pricey loafers often chosen by those promoting special interests — all the more noticeable as they make their way from one back room to another.
Soon we will all be celebrating the unofficial start to summer, Memorial Day. I will spend the day with a group of veterans from Mellen VFW Post 2273 visiting cemeteries across Ashland County. I'm honored to join them as they quietly pay their respects and remember the men and women who answered the call and too often lost their lives defending our freedom. I also will speak at a Memorial Day ceremony at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner the Saturday before Memorial Day.
I know some of my colleagues in Madison get tired of hearing me talk about how lucky I am to live in Northern Wisconsin. It's not only the north's beautiful forests, lakes and streams, and ever-changing shore of Lake Superior that make it special. It's the people who choose to make this part of the state home that I value most. People who are always ready to help a neighbor, to lend a hand when the going gets rough.
I was talking with a group of constituents who came down to the Capitol this week. One of the women was concerned about something she read in the local paper regarding the state budget. She talked about how she and her husband sit around the kitchen table once a month, figuring out together how much they can spend and how they want to spend it. This week, my colleagues who serve on the Legislature's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee began gathering around a much bigger table on the fourth floor of the Capitol's East Wing to do essentially the very same thing.
One of the things I enjoy most about being a state senator is visiting local schools to talk with fourth graders about state government. I always try to include time for questions and answers. Fourth graders can be very curious. I get lots of questions about my family — do I have children, did I have brothers and sisters — and my preferences? What's my favorite color? Do I like dogs, cats or lizards? (I like turtles.) Sometimes you get a question you're not expecting, a question that throws you for a loop.
In the depths of the great depression, President Roosevelt warned against becoming cold-hearted, cautioned against indifference and reminded Americans they were called to save something great and precious for the nation and its future. And they answered the call. The nation came together. People didn't look at their neighbors who were marginally better off than them with resentment. Instead of dragging people down, they worked to make the future better for not only their families, but for everyone who got up and went to work each day. And we inherited a better nation.
It's been a few years since my daughters were teenagers and almost as many years since most people used checks to pay all their bills. But I'm guessing that anyone reading this can relate to the time my girls asked me to give them a signed blank check. Once I realized they weren't kidding, we had a discussion about what it was they were going to use the money for — a school trip, if my memory is right. After I had the necessary information and assurances, I gave them the check.
There's nothing easier than imposing limits on someone else that you won't apply to yourself. A recent report from the highly respected and nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance highlighted the fact that the people who control Wisconsin's state government are forcing local government to operate under revenue restrictions that they don't apply to themselves.