State Senate President Michael Ellis, R-Neenah, announced Monday that he’ll be running for re-election to represent the 19th Senate District in November 2014.
“I’ve heard rumors that I’m going to retire and I just want to send a signal to my constituents that I’m not planning on retiring,” said Ellis, 72. “I’m too young to retire.”
Ellis, who has been in the Senate since 1982 and in the Legislature since 1970, said he’s seeking another four-year term because “there’s still a lot of unfinished business. I’m totally engaged. I’m excited about the future.”
He cited a number of issues that led to his decision.
“The top of my list is to protect the ability in the future to get sufficient funding for our K-12 school system,” Ellis said. “K-12 schools are under assault. We’re in competition not only with other states but the entire world because of the global economy. Our students have got to be ready for a new, highly technical, competitive world and protecting K-12 education is extremely important.”
Ellis said another top priority is job creation, which goes hand-in-hand with K-12 education.
“If we have a well-educated population, we’ll make them available to the workforce,” he said. “You need to have the first thing to accomplish the second.”
He said increased support for the state’s technical colleges ties into that priority, too.
“We also have to do all we can make our technical colleges viable to the extent that they can quickly move from Point A to Point B as the job market dictates it,” he said.
Among local concerns, Ellis said legislation to allow for a referendum to establish a regional transit authority is vital. He’s been the champion among local lawmakers on the issue.
“We have to assist people who want to work to be able to get to work,” he said.
And Ellis cited one of his longtime crusades — campaign finance reform.
“We’ve had roadblocks because of the Supreme Court decision,” he said. “Citizens United shifts pressure from individuals to collectivisms. Collectivisms can spend as much as they want, rendering the individual citizen of our state null and void. We have to do what we can within the confines of the Supreme Court decision.”
Ellis has been Senate president in two periods since 2011 and was the Senate majority leader in three periods between 1993 and 1999.
The 19th Senate District includes Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Grand Chute, the Town of Menasha, Greenville and other parts of Outagamie and Winnebago counties.