Walker’s Budget Promises to Cut BadgerCare, Increase Class Sizes; Hundreds Demand M&I Bank Repay Taxpayer Money Now

Demonstrations at M&I Bank Headquarters, State Capitol Branch Highlight Bank's Failure to Do Fair Share as Wisconsin's Middle Class Faces Historic Sacrifices

MADISON, Wis. — When M&I Bank gladly took $1.7 billion in taxpayer TARP dollars two years ago, it was supposed to use the money to help get the state’s economy back on its feet, assist homeowners in steadying their mortgages and then quickly pay the money back. Far from that, M&I and its CEO Mark Furlong have failed to pay back the $1.7 billion in taxpayer money, even as Wisconsin’s middle class faces historic cuts to vital services like schools and healthcare.

“That is why we are here today,” said Ann Louise Tetreault, a registered nurse, and a participant in one of the rallies held today at M&I headquarters in Milwaukee and at the Madison branch across the street from the State Capitol. “We want to shine a light on M&I’s activities and to demand that Furlong and company pays us back our money so they can stop using it to hurt Wisconsin families.”

Despite M&I’s dependence on the generosity of taxpayers, the bank’s executives have helped finance Gov. Walker’s agenda to cut vital services for those same taxpayers – and to take away their basic collective bargaining rights. Furlong and other executives now plan to cut and run on Wisconsin by selling M&I to a Canadian bank and approving plans to move the headquarters to Illinois. Furlong will be rewarded for this move with a $24 million pay day, while many bank employees and the state will be punished with the potential loss of hundreds of jobs.

“The employees of M&I Bank are the first ones who are going to pay for Furlong’s $24 million personal payday. They are going to pay with their jobs,” said Peter Rickman, a UW worker and grad student. “And Governor Walker’s budget scheme will make sure that these same working families will be deprived of access to education and health care. It’s a one-two punch on Wisconsin’s middle class. And it’s disgusting that they’re using our money to throw the punches. It’s time for us to get our money and our state back.”

By contributing tens of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of Gov. Walker and other anti-working family crusaders in the legislature, Furlong and M&I Bank have ensured the pain of the state’s problems will fall on the backs of the middle class and not the wealthy.

“With our money, Mark Furlong has bought Scott Walker and an army of anti-middle class crusaders in the legislature,” said Tetreault. “So now, instead of seeking cooperation and sacrifice from the richest few Wisconsinites, Scott Walker is eager to punish working families for the state of the economy.”

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One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.