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Wisconsin Democrats Set 2017 Agenda

Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, says the Legislature must address the state's lagging economy and declining wages in its 2017 agenda. (Official Wisconsin Legislature photo)
Wisconsin state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, says the Legislature must address the state's lagging economy and declining wages in its 2017 agenda. (Official Wisconsin Legislature photo)
December 30, 2016

MADISON, Wis. - As the year draws to an end, Wisconsin Democrats say job and wage growth in the state is stagnant, which has compounded the challenges facing families in the Badger State.

As Republicans plan to stay the course of austerity and cuts to existing budgets, Democrats say 2017 should bring a willingness to focus on solutions to the state's problems rather than concentrating on budget cuts.

"While we've seen strong national growth over the past several years, Wisconsin continues to lag economically and declining wages have compounded the challenges for working families," said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton. "We need to start investing in the people of Wisconsin to help grow our economy, and Democrats stand ready with solutions to lower student-loan debt and make health care more affordable."

Erpenbach said the Legislature should focus on solutions to strengthen the state's middle class.

Funding highway maintenance and improvements has become a hot issue in 2016. Erpenbach said the borrow-and-spend approach isn't working.

"Costly credit-card financing and repairs just to delay road replacement is reckless," he said. "Six years of delays and inaction have put our roads in crisis condition. Without a safe and strong infrastructure, our economy comes to a sharp stop."

Republicans recently have announced a plan to investigate the feasibility of instituting toll roads in the state, but the Democrats say that's not the way to go.

Another hot-button issue in 2016 has been the effect of years of state financial-aid cuts to public schools. Erpenbach said the new legislative session should bring a bipartisan effort to restore many of the funding cuts.

"Funding for schools needs to be a top priority in the state's upcoming budget," he said, "so local communities don't have to rely on referendums and higher property taxes just to operate our public schools."

Republicans generally have favored plans that expand charter schools and voucher programs in the state.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI