Budget Listening Session in Eau Claire 4/16/2019 | WisCommunity

Budget Listening Session in Eau Claire 4/16/2019

April 21, 2019 - 5:31pm
Tony Evers

Tony Evers Eau Claire Budget Listening Session

The Governor's Budget Listening Tour rolled into Eau Claire on April 16 at the Western Wisconsin Technical College. This session was unusual in several ways for Wisconsin. For one, it has been a long time since a Wisconsin Governor has held open listening sessions where the public was invited. For another, the new Governor held this somewhat differently than normal. After an address from the Governor, Lt. Governor, and several local officials, the group split up into multiple sections by particular concerns with the budget (education, transportation, criminal justice, healthcare, etc.) 

I jumped around into several of these sessions, and the main concerns I heard revolved around some of the following:

  • Taking the federal Medicaid money for the state
  • Keeping Seniorcare
  • Expanding state expenditures for K-12 education, the University system, and the technical colleges. People were very concerned that the past administration had rolled back education expenditures and that Wisconsin is now behind.
  • Criminal Justice - Wisconsin incarcerates twice as many people as our neighboring state Minnesota. Concerns were raised about increased funding for judges and drug courts, as well as making the parole system fairer and finding more ways to have people succeed rather than being returned to prison.
  • Fair Maps - many in the crowd were concerned about the gerrymandering of legislative districts, and many of them called for a non-partisan redistricting method as called out in the Governor's Budget.
  • Improving roads and infrastructure in the state, even if this required an increase in the gas tax.
  • Addressing the nursing shortage in the state.

The session was followed by a short press conference with the officials at the hearing session. This video includes the pre-session address, an interview with Selika Lawton about criminal justice, and the post-session press conference. 

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Steve Hanson
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