Schultz Floor Speech on Removing Non-Fiscal Items from State Budget ​GOP Senator to Vote ‘No’ on State Budget Bill!

by Free Speech on June 22, 2013

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Mr. President and members, it was said, back in October of 2010 – quote – “Strip policy and pork projects from the state budget.  The budget process should be about funding essential government services based on the taxpayer’s ability to pay.  It should not be about horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign.” – unquote.
Mr. President, I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment and quote taken from then candidate Scott Walker’s campaign website.  It’s one of the reasons I was the first out-state legislator to endorse Mr. Walker for governor.
And so my rising in support of this amendment to remove all non-fiscal items from the budget is done in loyalty to, not opposition of the governor.
But even more importantly, Mr. President, my support for this amendment is done out of loyalty to the approximately 170,000 people who’ve entrusted me with their vote, and their voice, on the floor of this chamber.
There are over 90 items in this bill which the Legislative Fiscal Bureau has identified as non-fiscal, and they don’t belong.  They don’t belong, because our party said so, and my constituents have reminded me of that fact as I’ve traveled around my district listing.
That great American sage, Yogi Berra, likes to say, “You can observe a lot by just watching.”…..  You can also hear a lot by just listening.
Mr. President, as I listen to my constituents they’ve said Wisconsin in 2013 can pretty much be summed up in one statement:  Bounty Hunters welcome, Investigative Journalists? – Not so much.
Now, to be fair, Mr. President, there are policy items in this budget that I might be willing to support.  Designation of the State Pastry comes to mind.
I enjoy a good Kringle as much as the next person.  Early in my legislative career I actually suggested the meadow muffin should be considered, but that’s a story for a different time.
But maybe the Kingle or the Cream Puff should be designated the State Pastry.  But it doesn’t belong in the state budget.
To be fair, I’ve had the honor of serving as Majority Leader of this chamber, and I have to plead guilty on the charge of having policy in the budget we passed during that time.
But Mr. President, I think someone would be hard pressed to find the kind of sweeping policy changes that are before us today.
The one that has lit up my phones like a Christmas tree is the state-wide expansion of school vouchers.
Again, let me be clear Mr. President, I voted to help create vouchers 20 years ago as an experiment in Milwaukee.
But two points:  One, that was a stand-alone bill which went through the normal process, and Second, after 20 years I haven’t seen adequate evidence that the experiment is working let alone worthy of expansion.
So, now, in the bill before us today, we use the phrase of “failing schools” as an excuse to further tear apart and divide of our communities and to justify creating a parallel school system that will suck money away from public schools.
A lot of my constituents believe that what we are witnessing is the beginning of the dismantling of the public school system.
People are worried that this initial expansion is the death knell for small school districts, districts like Weston and Wonewoc and Cassville and Potosi. We can’t adequately support one statewide school system.  Why on earth would we want to create a second one?  It just makes no sense.
I know there are good people on the other side of this issue, so I have to chalk it up to a huge misunderstanding.
Perhaps some of my colleagues from urban parts of the state don’t realize that in our part of the state, the schools are the centers of our communities.  Educating our kids is, of course, the number one priority.
But our schools are also where we gather for sporting events, for arts and community and cultural events.  In many communities, our schools are the only brick and mortar buildings which identify us, and our educators are also our fellow parishioners at church, and the volunteers in service clubs which are the fabric of our towns.  So an attack on our schools is seen as an attack on our communities.
Mr. President, we worked long and hard, across party lines, to finally get the curriculum required in our rural schools to allow our kids to be able to get into our university flagship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Courses like foreign language and advanced placement math, science and English were at one time simply not there in many cases.  Our kids were iced out of higher education opportunities.
Mr. President, if this non-fiscal policy, the state-wide expansion of vouchers, passes, the ramifications could well be disastrous for rural schools as money is sucked away and given to private schools.
Let me provide one specific example Mr. President.  Let’s take agriculture.  One of the founding industries of this state – and for the mining supports here, there’s a plow on the state flag.
Incidentally, you know what one of the best things about Ag producers is?  They’re independent.  They just wanna get stuff done.  They don’t have time to political party games.  I like that.
Mr. President, take a look at UW-Platteville in my district, UW-River Falls, and UW-Madison, the top three state universities for Agriculture Science programs.  They are at or near their all-time highs in enrollments.
Our Ag industry continues to be a leader in job creation.  Organic Valley, the largest organic dairy cooperative in the country sits at the edge of my district.
But don’t just take my word for it, in an article this week in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Lee Swindall, vice president of Business and Industry Development for WEDC said cheese making and the dairy product manufacturing industry posted 30% growth in the last four years, and he called specialty cheese manufacturing a ‘legacy industry.’
Mr. President, what is the feeder program for that legacy industry?  It’s our Ag Science programs at our universities and the feeder programs for them?  It’s our Future Farmer’s of America programs and our vocational Ag programs in our public schools being taught by vocational Ag public school teachers – and due to cuts, which already exist, they are disappearing.
Why on earth would we adopt a piece of non-fiscal policy which could further tear at the fabric of our very heritage not to mention assaulting one of the few industries in this state which is actually growing and creating jobs?
No, Mr. President, no.  Enough.  The folks out my way have said, “Dale, enough already.”  Because where I live…we’re an independent natured people of sort…the people I represent.  We have to be.
Sometimes it might be a half hour or 45 minutes into town.  We love our Ocooch Mountains in the drift less area, but they tend to make us a bit stoic.  And sometimes that stoic nature is mistaken for not caring.  But we do care.  We care deeply, and we care about each other because we rely on one another.
The plumber’s wife happens to be a teacher, and it’s through her job that the family is able to get their health insurance.  And the teacher educates the farmer’s children, and the farmer hires the plumber for a project on the farm.  And the farmer’s wife finishes chores early and goes into town where she sits on the school board where she helps set the curriculum the plumber’s wife who will teach her children.  And they all go to St. Luke’s parish where this Sunday they’ll all be walking in a fundraiser to raise money for cancer because the plumber’s father is a cancer survivor and during the 40 years he owned the plumbing business, he was one of the most philanthropic members of the community donating countless times to community, school and church causes which has made our community part of what it is today.
The remarkable thing, Mr. President, is this isn’t just my community, it’s your community and it’s every community across Wisconsin.
We rely and depend on each other much more then we will ever know, and we are only at our best when we recognize that, put our political differences aside, and join together to reach our full potential.
This is what I hear from my constituents and from our fellow Wisconsinites as I travel around our state.
The people of this state are tired of “horse trading for special interest groups or establishing talking points for the next campaign.”
They’re ready for courageous, independent leadership.  It’s nothing new, of course.
Just over a hundred years ago, the people of this state were tired of corporate interests having too great an influence, and they elected an Insurgent Republican, Robert La Follette, to help restore their voice.
Fighting Bob, of course, went on to become arguably one of Wisconsin’s greatest and most prominent native sons helping give support and a face to the Progressive movement.
Mr. President, I support this amendment in the great tradition of Governor and Senator La Follette.  And I support this amendment in the spirit of President Teddy Roosevelt, another great Republican who got a little independent.
And while I’m confident my vote will not make the difference today, I’m also hopeful that tomorrow will bring us one step closer.
As fighting Bob La Follette said, “The essence of the Progressive movement, as I see it, lies in its purpose to uphold the fundamental principles of representative government.  It expresses the hopes and desires of millions of common men and women who are willing to fight for their ideals, to take defeat if necessary, and still- go- on- fighting.”
Mr. President, I support this amendment, and I’ll support others today, which most likely will come one vote short.
Without these amendments, I cannot support the bill which is before us today because it’s too far removed from representing the interests of the common men and women I represent.
Common folks, with an uncommon commitment to their friends and neighbors and to the great state of Wisconsin, which we all so fervently love.
We may take a brief defeat in our cause today, but as God gives us guidance, we shall go on fighting.
Thank you, Mr. President.”

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Previous post:

Next post: