MADISON, Wis. — A front group for the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers is active in Wisconsin, funding a campaign on behalf of a handful of Republican legislators, including Senators Patrick Testin and Dan Feyen, praising them for standing with their party bosses in Madison.
As Republican leaders seek confrontation instead of compromise with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on the 2019 state budget, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Analiese Eicher said the question for Testin and Feyen is: whose side will they take with their votes, the people of their districts or the party bosses and out-of-state billionaires?
“From investing in public education and expanding access to affordable healthcare to increasing economic security, these are kind of critical issues at stake in the budget,“ said Eicher. “Powerful special interests like the Koch brothers are trying to influence the outcome. Legislators are going to have to choose whose side they’re on: the people or their party bosses and lobbyists?”
The state news service WisPolitics has reported that the Koch brothers funded Americans for Prosperity is paying to promote policies favored by themselves and Madison Republican legislative leaders, and praising Senators Testin and Feyen for following their lead.
This week the Republican legislative leadership directed over 130 items be removed from Gov. Evers’ budget by the Joint Committee on Finance, including bringing in additional federal funding to help expand access to health care and control costs. Deleting this provision creates a $1.4 billion shortfall in the two year budget plan, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
Beyond blowing a hole in the budget, the Republican actions sink economic security for people by deleting proposals like help for student loan borrowers, expanded family and medical leave, a restoration of worker rights and enhanced private sector worker retirement security.
Eicher noted the good news is that legislators will have an opportunity to vote to restore these and other budget provisions when the full Senate and Assembly consider the budget bill.
She concluded, “The choice is going to be clear for legislators like Senators Testin and Feyen. They can stand with special interests and their party bosses or they can work with Gov. Evers and their colleagues, Republican and Democratic, on a budget that benefits everyone.”