Lois Fadness said government in Madison is dysfunctional, and she has qualms about what’s happening in Washington, D.C., too.
“I fear for Wisconsin and I fear for the United States of America,” the Chippewa Falls woman said Wednesday at a meeting held by Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) and state Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) at the Chippewa Valley Technical College campus in Chippewa Falls.
“I don’t know how we can fix (government) and I don’t know if we’ve got enough people to fix it, when it is run by millionaires... My vote doesn’t seem to make any difference,” Fadness said.
Larson tried to assure her that her voice does matter, and he told the two dozen people attending what was billed as a “middle class values tour” that they need to express their opinions to their lawmakers.
Wachs and Larson encouraged Gov. Scott Walker to accept $12 billion in federal funding over the next decade to expand Medicaid coverage.
“Gov. Walker has been resisting the state getting involved in this program,” said Wachs, whose 91st District includes much of the north side of Eau Claire.
Larson said the move would eventually create 10,000 new jobs. “Which is more jobs than any proposal the government has put forth in two years,” he said.
“The only problem is this comes down to a decision by one person ... and that person is not in this room,” Larson said, referring to Walker, who has said he will make a decision by his State of the State address Feb. 20.
Larson said Republicans are pressing for changes in mining laws, but it could take 5-7 years before the state could see up to 700 mining jobs created.
Gail Halmstad of the town of Lafayette said she was concerned about expanding the voucher program, which began in Milwaukee.
“There is a lack of accountability and a lack of oversight,” she said of the program, where qualified families can use a state voucher to enroll their children in a public or private school.
Larson maintained the voucher program takes money out of public schools.
“It is a failed experiment. It doesn’t work,” he said, adding voucher promoters spent $7 million on the last campaign. And now the legislature is talking about expanding the program, he said.
One man who did not give his name asked if there was any movement in sand mine legislation.
Larson said he supports a proposal by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma). That bill would require public hearings when new mines are proposed and would make sure local communities could make decisions on where the mines could go.
“We’ve seen this explosion (in sand mining). We’ve been watching this,” Larson said.