A recent poll by the University of Wisconsin shows not only that a vast majority of Wisconsinites disapprove of Gov. Walker and his fellow Republicans in the state legislature, but also that 65% of Wisconsinites now believe that our state government is run for a few big interests rather than for all the people.
Gov. Walker has talked a big game on national television and in the local media recently about Republicans’ desire to work in a bipartisan fashion, but actions speak much louder than words.
Despite calls from citizens, nonpartisan good-government groups, and 14 editorials from newspapers all across Wisconsin urging the Republicans to end their self-serving ideological war on our democracy, they decided to ram their divisive, partisan redistricting plan through after only one public hearing.
This plan is designed solely to insulate Gov. Walker and Republicans from accountability for their actions over the past several months – by redrawing districts with the goal of ensuring their party stays in power for the next decade.
In their relentless effort to maintain their grip on power, Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans are dividing Wisconsinites for their own political gain. They are shunning local control by passing their plan before local governments have finished drawing their own boundaries. They are disregarding the constitution by ignoring the rights of minority citizens, breaking apart communities of interesting, and disenfranchising 300,000 voters across Wisconsin.
But perhaps even more cynical and disturbing than using redistricting to stifle the voices of Wisconsinites across our state who are tired of the Republicans’ hyper-partisan games, is the fact that the Republicans would use redistricting as cover for yet another assault on struggling, middle-class families.
Democrats in the Assembly have been working for months to try and get the Republicans to extend employment benefits for Wisconsin job seekers so that they can continue to put food on the family dinner table while they look for work.
Last night, in a surprising move, Republicans in the Senate joined with Democrats to pass legislation to capture $89 million in federal unemployment benefits for more than 10,000 Wisconsin workers and remove the one-week waiting period before receiving benefits that Gov. Walker “applauded” them for requiring.
Many of my colleagues expressed hope that the Republicans had finally seen the light and were now willing to stand with us to end these partisan games and get back to creating jobs and standing up for Wisconsin families.
Instead all we got was more of the same old Fitzwalkerstan political theater that has caused 65% of Wisconsinites to believe their state government is run for a few big, special interests rather than being run for them.
By voting to extend unemployment benefits, but also voting to require a one-week waiting period, Republicans are playing a dangerous, political game where Wisconsin job seekers and their families are the victims. The pair of votes allowed them to appear to help the unemployed, while the actual result was at best forcing a waiting period before benefits begin while also delaying, and perhaps at worst killing, the extension of the benefits by 13 weeks for struggling Wisconsin families.
Essentially, the Fitzgerald brothers have worked to ensure that Senate Republicans, many of whom who facing tough recall elections, get a fake vote in support of the middle-class while also giving Governor Walker political cover by not forcing him to veto the bill.
And they’re betting that nobody will notice their latest disgraceful assault on displaced workers by doing this right after the redistricting vote. They are hoping that their political gamesmanship appears as a mere footnote to the mainstream media stories on their hyper-partisan redistricting plan.
That’s where we need your help. We need you to help tell the story of how Gov. Walker’s lackeys not only created maps for their own political gain, but how they are continuing to kick struggling Wisconsin families while they’re down.
Republicans could not wait to cast a vote to protect their own jobs. Yet they will make job seekers wait before they can receive benefits and then cut them off early from the temporary income that they need to support their families while they seek new employment.
That’s just not right.
It’s exactly why two-thirds of Wisconsinites no longer believe their state government stands up for them.
And it’s precisely why we must end the Republicans’ dangerous political games by taking Wisconsin back for the people.
As of 9:36 PM CST, the Senate has not yet been called into session. I’ll keep you updated as to whether or not Republicans actually do their job to reconcile the differences between theses two bills or if they decide to further abandon struggling Wisconsin families during these tough times.