Western Wisconsin Democrats heard from their constituents Tuesday night and answered questions about the new legislative session.
For two hours, State Senator Jennifer Shilling and La Crosse area Representatives Jill Billings and Steve Doyle, along with state Senate Democratic Leader Chris Larson of Milwaukee, listened to the concerns of a group that was mostly fellow Democrats. Residents touched on many topics, including BadgerCare, wildlife protection, and education funding.
Although Governor Scott Walker has yet to officially release the state budget, the lawmakers say they want to hear from the public on priorities the governor has already outlined. Shilling is on the Joint Committee On Finance, which is made up of mostly Republicans. Although they may not be in power, she says Democrats have a role to play, "But I think then, that's the role of the minority party and the Democrats to stand up and say, 'Listen, these are the priorities we've heard about from the communities we represent.' If it's in education, health care, job creation, workforce development, and make sure we have those right priorities there."
Erin Davis of Holmen attended the meeting. As a La Crosse County employee, she says she wanted the lawmakers to hear her thoughts on making health care more affordable. But then Davis asked the lawmakers to propose a bill that would protect the Wisconsin Retirement System, "I mean, that was something I didn't plan on approaching, but it came to mind and to put that in their mind and say, 'Ok, this is what our constituents want.' It's important to them."
The town hall meeting was billed as the "Middle Class Values Tour." Senator Larson will be hosting two more this week in Chippewa Falls and Wausau.