We must continue to demand improvements to our healthcare system. Our communities can only flourish when we all have access to affordable, quality healthcare. I support legislation, including Badgercare for all, which makes such healthcare possible for all Wisconsinites. When people have access to preventive health care services like checkups and screenings, it reduces the number of costly emergency room visits and lowers insurance costs for everyone in our state. I understand what it is like to weigh the costs of additional tests or screenings against other household expenses, trying to decide if you can afford what the physician is recommending. Working families and seniors should not have to choose between lab tests and the utility bill. I will fight to expand health care coverage, protect community health clinics and lower prescription costs for seniors.
Strong public schools are the heart of every community and a primary driving force behind economic success. I will stand with Democrats and fight to restore local school funding, increase voucher school accountability and reestablish Wisconsin’s reputation as a leader in K-12 education.
I am a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Our UW system and Technical Schools are a critical force behind the economic success of our communities, businesses and families. Yet increasingly, the cost to pursue training and education beyond high school is prohibitive. Students are graduating with mountains of debt, starting the domino effect of economic depression. When I attended school the cost of attendance was $6,000 annually. Now it is $25,000. Since 2011, Gov. Walker and the Republican Legislature have cut $1 billion from higher education including $795 million from UW campuses and $203 million from Technical Colleges, impacting everything from the classes and majors offered to the amount of aid the states provide to students reducing the cost of attendance. We must restore balance to our system by investing in our schools, relieving existing student loan debt, and making education affordable for all.
Across Wisconsin, too many communities are struggling to take care of the basics – like maintaining our roads and ensuring that all businesses and homes have access to 21st century infrastructure like broadband internet. Wisconsin’s rough roads are costing us all more in wear and tear on our vehicles. Having safe roads that allow people to get from home to work to school is one of the most basic functions of government and is critical to continuing to grow our economy. Our leaders should be working together to find common sense solutions. Our district, in particular is heavily impacted by inaction on expansion of Highway 41 as Federal money is funneled to Southeast Wisconsin for theFoxConn project while communities like ours are left hanging. In the Senate, I will work to make sure that we improve the safety of our roads and invest in infrastructure to build safe and strong communities.
Wisconsin is rich in beautiful, natural environments and waterways. Clean water, land and air are essential to our economy and way of life in Wisconsin. Whether for outdoor recreation, tourism, hunting and fishing, or simply enjoying being outside in our own communities, protecting Wisconsin’s diverse wildlife and natural resources is not just the environmental thing to do but the economic thing to do. We must protect Wisconsin’s groundwater from contamination and depletion, get a handle on the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease, and ensure that we are taking steps as communities to slow the impact of global climate change.
Gun violence is a public health crisis in America. While the overwhelming majority of gun owners are consistently responsible with their firearms, Wisconsin must take the lead to do more to reduce gun violence and keep our communities, schools, and children safe. I join 97% of gun owners in supporting universal background checks. I also support a 48-hour waiting period on gun purchases, closing the gun show and boyfriend loopholes, and limits on high capacity ammunition. Gun violence impacts everyone: old, young, rich, poor, Democrat or Republican. It is time we join together and stand up for reasonable community standards on gun safety.
As the single head of household I have experienced first-hand how hard it is to be among Wisconsin’s working middle class. I will work to draft and pass legislation that will provide affordable childcare and expansion of the family medical leave opportunities, and for fair wages to help grow our middle class. The rising cost of childcare is preventing many families from pursuing career opportunities to improve their economic situation. Currently in Wisconsin, it costs just under $12,000 annually for infant care—more than the cost of tuition in most UW colleges. I believe in expanding paid family leave options so families have the opportunity to care for a loved-one or a newborn without losing their job or being unfairly penalized by their employer. I will also fight for equal pay protections, minimum wage standards, and consumer rights as we work to empower Wisconsin’s working families.
Just as I would not presume to make healthcare decisions for my neighbor, co-worker or teacher, I believe that women have the full right to make healthcare decisions for themselves, including whether and when to have children. I will protect a woman’s right to make those personal decisions according to what is best for her or her family, without interference from politicians. Community health clinics like Planned Parenthood provide an increasingly vital service of well-woman and preventative care, including cancer screenings for men and women. As a college student and young professional, I relied on Planned Parenthood for affordable healthcare and birth control. If we want to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, we should work for expanded access to affordable birth control options and comprehensive sex education in schools.
The ability to participate in free, open and fair elections is the bedrock of our democracy. In Wisconsin, the Republicans have pushed through an unprecedented number of voting restrictions from limiting voting hours to preventing absentee voting. Even the current State Attorney General admitted that these unfair restrictions were aimed at keeping Democratic voters away from the polls. I support expanding voting hours and make sure that all of Wisconsin’s citizens are able to exercise their right to vote.
I also support overturning U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010. Corporations are not people and undisclosed dark money has flooded our campaigns and eroded Wisconsin’s tradition of fair, open and clean elections.
I support non-partisan redistricting and putting an end to partisan gerrymandering. Both Democratic and Republican elected officials and candidates should have to work for your votes. Currently, Wisconsin elections are often decided by only a few percentage points. Extreme gerrymandering resulted in the GOP taking 60 of the 99 Assembly seats despite winning only 48.6% of the two-party state-wide vote in 2012. In 2014, Republicans took 63 Assembly seats with only 52% of the statewide vote. This is simply not democratic. We must ensure that the will of voters is clearly heard.
I support medical and recreational marijuana legalization in the state of Wisconsin and support removing marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances.
Wisconsin has some of the harshest penalties related to marijuana possession, sale and cultivation. All levels of cultivation and sale are considered felonies with incarceration terms increasing based on quantity grown or sold. Wisconsin prisons have bloated to over 23,000 incarcerated leading to dangerous, overcrowded conditions. We can drastically cut down on the prison population by doing away with incarceration of non-violent, low-level drug offenders. According to a comprehensive study by the Justice Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, about 25% of prisoners nationwide fall into this category.
Additionally, with the opioid crisis impacting communities throughout Wisconsin, we need to consider legalization as part of a viable solution. In studies published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers found that states that allow the use of cannabis for medical purposes had 2.21 million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed per year under Medicare Part D, compared with those states without medical cannabis laws. Opioid prescriptions under Medicaid also dropped by 5.88% in states with medical cannabis laws compared with states without such laws, according to the studies.