A New Day in Wisconsin?

“What’s best for our kids, is what’s best for our state and our democracy.”

Governor elect Tony Evers, 2018

“Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.” Governor Scott Walker talking to billionaire campaign contributor Diane Hendricks about getting rid of unions and making Wisconsin a “completely red state,” January 18, 2011 (emphasis added)

“It is a new day in Wisconsin.” Tony Evers after being elected governor

The contrast in priorities between Governor-elect Tony Evers and outgoing Governor Scott Walker is stark and informative. The contrast is illustrated by the quotes above. Evers is coming in with a positive program based on what is good for our children. Walker began his administration assuring his largest campaign contributor that he had a plan to divide people and bust unions. It is a contrast between concern for the people of Wisconsin and concern for advancing a prescribed ideological agenda, and your own political future.

Evers is not just repeating his campaign slogans. He has already begun creating a “new day” for how Wisconsin will be governed. His transition team is creating a more open, inclusive, and democratic process that involves citizens rather than dividing them. He is already moving on issues important to average citizens like school funding, cost of healthcare, and the well-being of children.

Governor Evers wants to end the divisiveness of the last eight years. He wants to bring people together to solve problems. To do this he has established several advisory councils. The “What is Good for Kids” citizen advisory council will advise on policies and issues related to families and children. It will deal with policies of the Departments of Children and Families, Public Instruction, and Health Services.

The Health Care Council will bring experienced voices from around the state to help put together a comprehensive health care plan to increase access to health care coverage and bring down healthcare costs. Evers says, “Expanding access to affordable health care for Wisconsin residents is a top priority for our administration.”

These advisory groups are highly diverse and bring together experts, leaders, advocates, and other stakeholders from all over the state to advise his transition team. They will help prepare budget proposals and policy priorities. Evers is also interested in suggestions from the general public. You can submit comments at “Share Your Ideas” on the transition web site (https://evers.wi.gov/Pages/connect.aspx).

This open democratic process seeks expert and citizen involvement to guide public policy. It is a fact based, deliberative process that seeks bi-partisan solutions. This is in sharp contrast to the ideological driven agenda pushed by the Walker administration and Republican controlled legislature. They took their guidance from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an out-of-state, extreme right, Koch brothers’ think tank.

The Koch brothers’ agenda was implemented over huge public protest – the largest public demonstrations in Wisconsin history. They limited and manipulated public hearings to avoid public input and limit opposition. They violated open meeting laws and crammed legislation through literally in the dark of night. These tactics demonstrated a disregard for democratic process and disrespect for opposition elected representatives and the people of Wisconsin.

We do need a new day in Wisconsin. We need to reclaim Wisconsin’s reputation for clean, honest government. We need to have a more civil and respectful political discourse. We need leadership that puts people before party. This is what is best for our kids, it is what is best for our state, and our democracy.