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Wisconsin Democrats Unveil Legislative Agenda

So Far, The Democrats' Plan Is Light On Specifics


Wisconsin Democrats in the state Legislature said they’re as united as they’ve ever been around an agenda that provides an alternative to majority Republicans, although their plan is light on details.

The plan Democrats called their “Wisconsin Way Forward” calls on the Legislature to “support small business,” “rebuild a fair and vibrant economy,” “defend the right to vote” and “restore local control.”

At a state Capitol news conference Thursday, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, joked that it was unusual for Wisconsin Democrats to be on the same page.

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“We’re working to dispel the words of Will Rogers that keep me up at night,” Barca said, “That we’re ‘not a member of any political party, we’re Democrats.’ And we think we’ve put a big dent in that.”

But at this stage, it’s unclear what some of the ideas might mean in terms of actual legislation. For example, while some Democrats have called on the state to end a tax break for manufacturers that costs roughly $300 per year, Barca and Senate Democratic Minority Leader Jen Shilling would not say specifically what they had in mind when it came to their plan to “restore tax fairness.”

“We will be looking at these issues through the lens of opportunity, fairness and community,” Shilling, of La Crosse, said.

Other proposals Democrats said they support include securing equal pay protections, and helping students and workers “succeed in a changing economy without a lifetime of debt.”

Democrats said they’ll announce specific policies in coming weeks.

Practically speaking, it will be difficult for Democrats to pass any bills in the Legislature with Republicans holding their largest majorities in decades.