There are lots of ways to get a message to elected officials. You can march and rally, like many of us did on May Day in support of a variety of causes and many more of us will on June 16 to call for long-overdue school funding reform. You can testify at a hearing like the supporters of the School Finance Network did recently. You can visit their offices and you can always send a letter.
Here is the letter I sent today.
Governor James Doyle
State Senator Fred Risser
State Representative Mark Pocan
Madison, WI 53708
As work on Wisconsin’s biennial budget moves forward, you and your colleagues face increasingly difficult choices. The current economic crisis and the difficulties you face demand real leadership.
This crisis — in the public and private sectors, at the national, state and local levels – is the product of too many years of looking for quick and easy fixes and savings. The gimmicks have been exhausted, the savings have been proven illusionary, and the short term view has wrought extensive damage.
It is time to champion a new vision. Wisconsin needs you to lead the state in a recommitment to a sustainable and progressive system of revenues sufficient to provide the investments in education, social services, health care, and infrastructure necessary for Wisconsin to grow stronger, more prosperous and more equitable.
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future have produced a Catalog of Tax Reform Options for Wisconsin. This document offers many ideas for fair and sustainable revenue policies. I urge you to put these ideas at the center of your continuing work on the budget.
I am an active citizen, member and supporter of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. I have volunteered and donated and even hosted a “Take Back the Assembly” fundraiser in the last election cycle. I’ve done this because I believed in the Democratic platform planks promising “fair taxation,” full funding of educational mandates, and “access to affordable health care,” and more. These are the ideas that put you into office. Now, more than ever you need to put these ideas into action.
As we all look forward to the next election cycle, it may be helpful to think about how difficult it will be to hold on to majorities and offices if all you have to offer is “We survived the economic crisis without too much harm and no fundamental changes in our approach to governance.” Propping up the status quo also contains risks, but it offers few rewards for the citizens or the Democratic Party. Change was the watchword last November and the increasingly apparent failures of the old way of doing things have only made the demand for change more pressing.
You are in a position to lead that change. Please be part of building the future our state needs.
Thomas J. Mertz
Send your own letter (info here, feel free to post it in the comments); join the march and rally on June 16! Take action!
Thomas J. Mertz