Sen. Kathleen Vinehout
"The length of time bills were deliberated (in the Wisconsin Legislature) dropped significantly soon after Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators took control in 2011," wrote investigative reporter Teodor Teofilov. In the governor's first two years in office, average deliberation time of a bill was 119 days, compared to a 20 year average of 164 days. For comparison, during the 1997-98 session under Gov. Thompson, it took an average of 227 days for a bill to move from introduction to becoming law.
The little girl walked home through the snow. She took the longer route. Mom asked her to stop at the store to buy milk. She touched the coupons and note. She couldn't lose them. Mom was so sick with cancer.
"Policy is who pays, who doesn't pay and where the money gets spent," said the president of the NAACP in a recent speech. Policymaking was center stage at the state Capitol when the long delayed $76 billion, two-year state budget was rushed to passage just days after a majority of lawmakers voted to give a Taiwan billionaire $3 billion in state subsidies. Budgets are about choices. Budget writers this year chose to leave major problems for the next budget writers.
Great news! A big tech company called Foxconn is coming to southeast Wisconsin and bringing with it — a lot of new jobs. The new company will build a big factory and make flat screens for computers. The governor tells us the company will create 13,000 jobs that pay nearly $54,000. Other businesses will benefit because the company will buy things from Wisconsin businesses. But, as Paul Harvey used to say, "here's the rest of the story."
The turn of the calendar to 2017 brings us hope for better prospects in our public affairs. I am particularly inspired this season for the many who wrote with solutions to problems facing our state. The many letters from readers gives me optimism for a coming bloom of civic mindedness. Certainly, your notes and letters bring a fresh approach to lingering problems. I do see signs on the horizon that our state may be stumbling.
"We try very hard to not have political discussions at our family gatherings," my friend told me over dinner. "How sad," I replied. This comment — one I've heard many times in past months — stood in sharp contrast to the enthusiastic spirit of community I felt the night before. I joined many neighbors in celebrating the release of a new album of local music. The accomplishment is a collaboration of three local musicians — Yata, Sinz and Orfield — in a delightful compilation entitled "Dancing in the Light."
"Happy Birthday" I told 80 auditors and other legislative leaders at a recent Capitol gathering. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau recently celebrated 50 years of service to the people of the State of Wisconsin. The audit bureau is the agency that works quietly behind the scenes to ensure state government delivers quality services. The agency has earned high marks for its work in national circles and criticism from both sides of the aisle in its detailed depiction of problems and recommended changes to state government.