I have not seen evidence of the public's testimony at the Wisconsin Public Budget Hearing, April 5 in Janesville.
In the interest of maintaining a well-informed community, I feel compelled to report what I heard from 10 a.m. until I left the hearing at 4:15 p.m. Overall, speakers favored Gov. Evers' budget. Issues well-covered included increased funding for public schools, the UW-System, special education, disability rights, and Medicaid and BadgerCare expansion. Three individuals spoke about need for fully funding the DNR and reauthorizing the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.
One teacher from Rock County Christian School favored school choice. Vouchers allow parents, who could not otherwise afford it, the chance to send their child to a private, or religious school. The person speaking right after him related her Catholic School attendance, K-12. She enjoyed the religious education her parents provided. As a public school teacher, she sees it unjust for so much public money to leave our public schools. Our state can ill afford to send every child to the school of their parents' choice. The majority of lower income students would be better served by fully funding our public schools. Several residents complained special education funding has not increased over the past ten years, even to keep up with inflation. The most vulnerable among us are underserved. This situation will lead to deeper problems for these individuals, and our state in the future.
Several came from Madison's MOSES group to oppose money for building more prisons. Wisconsin already has a prison population disproportionately higher than most states. Family of former prisoners related that once prisoners served their time, they often return, due to minor rule infractions. It's a waste of taxpayer money, and human life.
It was an opportunity for the public to speak their minds. Whether or not, our elected officials take it to heart, as they make budget decisions, is the question. We will see.