Vote ‘Yes’ on Milwaukee County Referendum Questions
Vote “yes” to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would clarify the rights of corporations.
The suggested amendment would affirm that only humans, not corporations, have constitutional rights and that money is not speech. The nonpartisan advocacy group Move to Amend has successfully placed this question on the ballot across the country, including 43 Wisconsin communities, and has won wide victories everywhere voters could weigh in on it. There’s a good reason why this movement is so successful. Voters are very disturbed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which gave its blessing to unlimited corporate spending in our elections. As we’ve seen since that decision, corporations are giving huge sums to super PACs, which must disclose their donors, as well as dark-money groups that don’t need to let the public know the source of their funding. The Center for Responsive Politics found that super PACs spent $600 million in the 2012 elections and dark money groups spent $256 million that year, although it couldn’t identify how much of that money came from corporations. Because the Citizens United ruling was made by the Supreme Court, legislators can’t overturn it with new laws. Only a new constitutional amendment can begin chipping away at it. Voting “yes” on this referendum would send a signal to our legislators that the voices of “We the People” should be the only voices heard in our elections.
Vote “yes” to tell the governor to accept federal funds to expand BadgerCare.
Gov. Scott Walker refused to fully expand Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, which would have provided 100% federal funds to provide BadgerCare to low-income Wisconsinites. Although BadgerCare is for low-income Wisconsinites, it would save us all money on our health care because low-income people would then have insurance and hospitals would not have to shift the costs of uncompensated care to everyone else. Walker took a path that no other state did and refused the funds so that he could “reform” the state’s Medicaid program, BadgerCare. Instead of accepting $561 million to expand BadgerCare, Walker’s version of reform will cost taxpayers an estimated $521 million during its first four years and will provide BadgerCare coverage for far fewer people. Milwaukee County could have insured 21,959 additional people under a fully expanded BadgerCare and drawn down $141 million additional federal funds in this biennium. Walker’s “reform” is so fiscally and morally irresponsible that we agree with Democratic candidate Mary Burke that a CEO in the private sector would be fired for making this decision. Burke has said she would accept the funds. This question is advisory only, but we ask you to vote “yes” on it to let the governor—whether it’s Walker or Burke—know that accepting the federal funds for BadgerCare is the wise and moral thing to do.
Vote “yes” on increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
Wisconsin law literally requires the governor to ensure that all workers earn a living wage. And no matter how you look at it, our $7.25 an hour minimum wage is not a living wage. Nevertheless, Walker refuses to raise it even a penny, claiming that since low-wage workers can use FoodShare and other safety-net programs, they aren’t truly poor. He’s even made the outrageous statement that he doesn’t understand the purpose of the minimum wage. We disagree—strongly. Mainstream economic studies show that raising the minimum wage benefits the economy. First, it reduces dependence on the taxpayer-funded safety net. While we can all agree that the safety net is important for struggling workers, the fact is that it’s also being abused by low-wage employers who don’t provide good wages or benefits because they know that taxpayers will pick up the tab for it. In 2013, that amounted to a $166 million subsidy for low wage fast-food employers in Wisconsin. That doesn’t even include the corporate welfare for low-wage employers in other industries, such as big-box retailers Walmart and Menards, whose employees earn so little they’re on BadgerCare and other public assistance programs. In addition to reducing dependence on the safety net, a higher minimum wage would provide low-wage workers with more money to spend at local businesses, which further stimulates the economy and job creation. Raising the minimum wage would give a raise to everyone earning less than $10.10 hourly while reducing the amount of taxpayer funds needed to help these workers get by. Vote “yes” to tell the governor to give these workers a raise and give taxpayers a break.
Vote “yes” on a Milwaukee County administrator.
Milwaukee County is the only one of the 72 counties in the state that is mandated to elect a county executive. Since this position was established in 1960, Milwaukee County has been led by some very good executives and some very poor ones. But our current county executive is the most powerful one, thanks to his lobbying of conservative suburban and outstate Republican legislators who rammed through Act 14, which increases his power and vastly diminishes the checks and balances provided by the county board. The result is that we are seeing more backroom deals between the county executive and business insiders and far less transparency in all matters of county government under his command. It’s time to end this nonsense by truly reforming Milwaukee County government and going back to a county administrator model. The administrator would be a qualified, nonpolitical manager of the county, not a politician. The administrator would be appointed by the board and could be removed by the board. The position could not be bought by a wealthy candidate or special interests who want to privatize county assets by controlling the county executive. The state Legislature would have to pass a law to change this position, but we believe it’s important for Milwaukee County voters to weigh in on county reforms. Vote “yes” on establishing a Milwaukee County administrator and removing toxic politics from county government.