Shankland: We can build on 2013 victories in the New Year

Grateful to represent you, proud of what we did accomplish

12:00 PM, Dec. 29, 2013  |  Comments
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After spending time with family and friends this holiday season, many of us are reflecting on 2013 and looking to the year ahead. This New Year, I'm feeling especially grateful for the privilege of representing our community in the legislature.

One year ago, I was sworn into the Wisconsin State Assembly. I'm so proud of our accomplishments this past year - most notably, our collaborative effort to keep Skyward in Wisconsin. Thanks to the support of this community and the legislature, Skyward will be adding hundreds of jobs and strengthening our local economy.

Another victory we celebrated was my workforce development bill for people with disabilities, which passed by overwhelming majorities in the legislature and was signed into law by the governor. I was proud to author this legislation, which will increase access to employment services for people with disabilities and empower thousands of people to find meaningful work.

These successes exemplify the kind of work the legislature should be focusing on: putting people before politics. However, instead of working together on a long list of jobs bills to grow Wisconsin's economy, Republicans chose to push their extreme ideological agenda.

In 2013, Republicans billed taxpayers an additional $86 million to force 72,000 people off of BadgerCare, after rejecting 10,000 new jobs and millions of dollars in Medicaid money. They fast-tracked legislation to strip away environmental protections and erode our water resources, with little public input. Meanwhile, they rejected Democratic jobs bills that would introduce innovative and bold ways to jumpstart our economy and create family-supporting jobs.

Republicans funneled money meant for our public schools to unaccountable voucher schools this year, and passed extreme anti-democracy bills to limit voters' rights. Their extremism went so far, that Assembly Republicans even voted against my nonpartisan resolution to honor the victims of Sandy Hook - when every other legislative resolution to honor people had passed.

Suffice it to say, I've learned a lot this year. I've learned that the people of Wisconsin are best served when their representatives move away from political ideology and move toward what's best for the people. I've learned that you are best served when I can learn from you, which is why I've rolled up my sleeves and enjoyed touring local businesses, nonprofits, government agencies, and schools across the district.

I've held office hours every month and met with hundreds of constituents and organizations to discuss legislation and help solve their problems. Thank you to those of you who participated! The people of Portage County are conscientious, engaged, and informed. It's been an honor to hear from and serve you, and I'm pleased to see your input reflected in my work this year.

I believe the victories we had in 2013 can be replicated in 2014 and beyond, and I'm committed to working hard for the 71st Assembly District. In 2014, let's focus on creating jobs, growing the middle class by increasing the minimum wage, strengthening BadgerCare, investing in our public schools, and passing clean government reforms like nonpartisan redistricting.

The fact is, you deserve it, and I will accept no less than the best. Here's to a happy, healthy, fruitful new year for you and for Wisconsin.

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports