MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin would be ill-served by more of the Walker administration’s cronyism and corruption and less access to comprehensive health care services for families. But bills to do just that are the centerpieces of the agenda in the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate today that One Wisconsin Now Executive Director called, “radically out of touch.”
“Wisconsin faces real challenges like record levels of student debt and an economy that continues to lag behind other states in producing jobs and family supporting incomes,” commented Ross. “But gutting anti-corruption protections for state workers and putting right-wing politicians’ politics before the health care needs of Wisconsin women and families isn’t going to help anything.”
Senate Bill 285 (SB 285) would allow Republicans to pack state government with political cronies by replacing objective measures for qualifying for appointments with resumes and centralize hiring in the state Department of Administration, headed by a political appointee. In addition, political appointees in agencies would be able to lay off employees without regard to seniority and dole out bonuses at their discretion, promoting favoritism for cronies.
“Removing anti-corruption protections from Wisconsin’s civil service laws is an invitation for more scandal, more incompetence and more cronyism in state government – something we have seen all too much of in recent years,” said Ross. “Four letters provide a vivid example of what happens when anti-corruption protections are removed: W-E-D-C.”
At Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) – the state poster child for the cronyism, corruption and incompetence of his administration – civil service protections were stripped from employees, much like what would happen in all state agencies if the provisions of SB 285 become law. A report by One Wisconsin Institute exposes the scope of the four years of failure at WEDC, finding businesses whose owners, directors or employees contributed to the campaign of Scott Walker received over sixty percent of dollars awarded by the jobs agency.
Walker and the Senate Republicans’ political cronies aren’t the only ones being served by today. Far right wing ideologues who think they, instead of Wisconsin women and their families, ought to be making our health care decisions are getting in on the act too.
A pair of bills would limit access to comprehensive care for thousands of Wisconsin families by seeking to divert funds for reproductive health care provided by Planned Parenthood and reduce their reimbursement rates for providing birth control and family planning through the Medical Assistance program. The bills were first introduced a mere week after the release of possibly illegally recorded videos attacking Planned Parenthood that an independent analysis found were heavily edited and targeted effort to spur anti-Planned Parenthood actions at the state and federal level.
“Senate Republicans are saying that they think their personal beliefs and partisan political vendettas are more important than the health of Wisconsin women and their families,” commented Ross. “It’s a shameful abuse of political power and Wisconsin families will suffer the consequences.”
Planned Parenthood provides health care to anyone, regardless of income, ability to pay or insurance status, who visits one of their 22 health centers statewide. They currently serve 60,000 individuals each year with breast and cervical cancer screenings, annual exams, birth control, STD testing and treatment, honest sex education and referrals for prenatal care and mammograms. Earlier efforts by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans closed five Planned Parenthood clinics in rural areas of Wisconsin, impacting over 3,100 women, men and families that depended on them for care. In an analysis of the implications of the bill to divert funding away from Planned Parenthood, the Department of Health Services admits they lack the capacity and network of qualified providers to meet the need for services.
Ross concluded, “The Senate Republican agenda today is certainly serving someone, but it sure isn’t the best interests of the vast majority of Wisconsin.”