Robson remains proud of her record
The political fall-out of the recently passed state budget may have overshadowed the accomplishments. The budget that passed the Legislature protects our core Wisconsin values, including a good education for our children, strong communities and a strong conservation ethic.
Every budget begins with the two political parties staking out their positions and creating a blueprint for their vision of Wisconsin. Gov. Jim Doyle mapped out a bold proposal that, among other things, required wealthy oil companies to pay their fair share of taxes that are used to build and maintain safe roads and bridges.
When the budget bill came to the Senate, we added Healthy Wisconsin, which would have ensured that every Wisconsinite had affordable health care.
The Republicans objected relentlessly to the gross receipts tax on Big Oil and to Healthy Wisconsin. They ultimately agreed to universal health care for children through an expanded BadgerCare. They also agreed to the Democrats’ renewable energy initiatives to reduce our reliance on foreign oil. And they agreed to adopt the Wisconsin Covenant, which puts eighth-graders on the track for academic and career success.
Anyone who pays attention to the news knows how long Wisconsin waited for a budget. College students, seniors, veterans, cities, counties and school districts were waiting not-so-patiently. Editorial boards across the state were pleading with legislators to work together and get the job done. And that is exactly what I did.
It was painful to remove Healthy Wisconsin from the negotiating table because I know how many people around the state are hoping and waiting for it to become law. It was hard to give up the hospital assessment because Wisconsin could surely use the additional federal dollars it would leverage to pay for Medicaid services. But that is the nature of compromise.
We legislators frequently hear from constituents who are tired of partisan rancor and sniping. They want the two political parties to work together, to find common ground. There is a time for staking out our ideological positions and fighting for our vision for Wisconsin. And there is a time for political pragmatism—of doing the basic duties of governance. I decided Wisconsin had waited long enough for a budget.
I am proud of the accomplishments of Senate Democrats under my leadership. I chose the more collegial, consensus-building approach to leadership rather than the customary dictatorial approach. I included a vital core of Senate Democrats in leadership decisions, including the senator who replaced me as majority leader.
I am proud of sticking to the agenda I set out when I was elected minority leader—to maintain civility and respect for Senate colleagues, to make the legislative process more open and inclusive of the public and to adhere to the highest level of ethics and integrity.
Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, represents Rock County in the Legislature. E-mail Sen.Robson@legis.state.wi.us or write P.O. Box 7882, Madison, 53707-7882.