Maurita Burzynski of Chippewa Falls would like to consider her family working class. She works part-time and her husband Nick full-time to support themselves and their son Xander, who just celebrated his first birthday.
But the government doesn’t look at the qualitative data.
“The government probably considers us poor,” Maurita said.
Based on federal income guidelines, Maurita and Nick are pigeon-holed into the lower class by politicians who, they say, do not seem to represent their family’s interests.
With the numerous regular and recall elections this year, candidates are debating a wide variety of topics, hoping to appeal to different voter demographics based on gender, race, age, education-level and income.
The Burzynskis fall under the category of a young family, as Nick is 26 and Maurita is 28. And since having Xander last April, some issues have become more important to Maurita and Nick.
“Education is a big one now,” Maurita said. “We think about if college will even be possible when Xander is old enough.”
Maurita highlighted how tuition for technical schools, as well as four-year universities, seems to keep going up and up. And that leads to considerable debt.
Both she and Nick attended Chippewa Valley Technical College and have about $26,000 in student loans to pay. With interest, Maurita said they will pay an additional $9,000 by the end.
“There are people out there with $100,000 in loans, and you think how much they’ll pay back on interest,” Maurita said.
Along with higher education, the couple also thinks about the issues facing K-12 education: schools are facing tighter budget times, and sometimes the costs are reflected on property taxes.
“We’re a bit more willing to pay more for our kids going through school, but there are others that don’t want their taxes up,” Maurita said.
Aside from the fiscal aspect, the Burzynskis also worry about how bullying has become a serious issue among students. Since Xander is not in daycare, the couple intends to take him to local family support centers to meet other children.
Another family concern for them is health care. Maurita said the couple now has insurance with a reasonable deductible through Nick’s job with Mayo Clinic Health System, but others are not as fortunate.
The federal government recently approved the state’s proposed cuts to Medicaid, including BadgerCare, and about 17,000 adults are expected to lose state health coverage, with 30,000 more to pay higher premiums. As former users of the BadgerCare program, this is troubling news to the couple, especially with rising health care costs.
“People need basic health care,” Nick said.
Another contentious issue for the couple is the state of Social Security, and whether it will actually be available to them when they are at retirement age. Maurita heard an estimate that funds will dry up by 2033.
“We’re paying for all of these other people … and we’re not going to get anything,” Nick said.
“It just seems like poor government management,” Maurita added. “They knew there’d be the Baby Boomers coming in. As a country, we need to figure out what to do to fix this.”
But it seems like nobody is willing to work together. Maurita and Nick are tired of the constant fighting and rhetoric about issues with seemingly no concrete results.
Maurita said she likes to keep up with the news, but especially in an election-filled year such as this, it’s hard to know who to trust for the truth. Candidates only seem to skim the important issues during debates, dodging questions and attacking opponents rather than hitting at the heart of the matter.
“If the government was a private business, the guys that are bickering and not showing any results would be reprimanded or fired,” Nick said.
“Maybe the government should work for minimum wage,” Maurita suggested.
Then their elected representatives might seem like they represent working families and others like Maurita and Nick.