Melissa Sargent, State Representative

153

Nearly two months ago, Governor Walker announced his biennial budget. Since then, we’ve heard ad nauseum about its supposed benefits and everything it will do for Wisconsin. Yet, despite the fairytale story Wisconsin Republicans are peddling, this budget is not good for our state.

As we have all come to expect from Walker’s budgets — and, let’s be honest, just about every piece of legislation sponsored by Republicans these days — we can’t believe everything we’re being told. I’m a mother of four and one of my favorite things as a parent is reading stories to my children, but I couldn’t dream up a more grandiose fairytale than the one Republicans are trying to sell the people of Wisconsin.

Republicans would gladly have us believe everything they are saying, but it’s up to us to be vigilant against their misdirection and sleight of hand. To use a famous phrase with a slight variation: don’t trust, verify.

So, when they use their right hand to show us funding for public education, pay attention to the left hand that has pickpocketed public schools by more than a billion dollars since 2011.

When they show us the ever-so-shiny “surplus” they have in the Department of Health Services, don’t let them pretend it isn’t because they’ve spent the last six years making it harder for ordinary Wisconsinites to get ahead.

When they say they believe in restoring power to local governments, don’t get lost in the smoke and mirrors they’ll use to pretend they haven’t passed 120-plus laws to dismantle local control.

When they talk to us about funding for higher education, don’t fall for the misdirection to distract us from eliminating tenure, gutting the UW by more than half a billion dollars and failing to make college more affordable for working class Wisconsinites.

We shouldn’t pat Republicans on the back for putting out fires they’ve started and we can’t be fooled by the Republicans’ budget fairytale. Budgets are a reflection of our values and we shouldn’t be satisfied until this biennial budget is good for Wisconsin.