As a kid growing up, my parents didn’t want to talk about finances with me. My dad was a lineman for the phone company and my mom worked her way up to administration at Wausau Hospital. Without bachelor’s degrees, my parents provided a nice home in the country, two cars and a reasonable amount of camps, sports, travel and college for us kids.
My husband and I both have our master’s degrees, and we don’t have the same economic security our parents enjoyed at our ages. Middle class economic opportunities are disappearing, especially in Wisconsin. Minnesotans average $5,000 a year more in wages than Wisconsinites. Our state ranks worst in the nation for losing our middle class and dead last for new start up business.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Without raising taxes, we can have paid family medical leave, reduce the cost of daycare and tuition at our state universities, as well as offer opportunities to refinance and reduce student loan debt. For true prosperity, we must empower our working families with economic choices, opportunities and stability that allow people to plan long term and invest in their kids.
Everyone that knows me knows I am deeply grateful for the education I received growing up in Wausau and that I’ve dedicated my life to supporting our kids’ futures. I love teaching in this community, and I am deeply disturbed by the ongoing Republican-led state assaults on public education that defund our schools and restrict local control by our locally elected officials. Rural schools like Antigo feel these cuts most severely as they discuss closing more schools and laying off more teachers, reducing opportunities for kids. Even here in Wausau, we passed a $29 million local referendum to raise our property taxes for maintenance projects that should have been funded by the state.
Just in the 85th Assembly District, we’re spending half a million taxpayer dollars on private school tuition for students that often attended those private schools already. That money is needed in our public schools, where there is public oversight for public funds and all children are welcome.