Fighting a real battle to help Milwaukee’s poor

When Milwaukee succeeds, Wisconsin succeeds. Unfortunately, in too many of our Milwaukee neighborhoods, innocent kids are dying, our children lack access to basic human necessities and our neighbors struggle to find jobs.

For far too long, our communities have been crying out in a fever pitch for their elected leaders to address these real problems. However, these calls continue to get paid only lip service by the Wisconsin Republicans who control our state government. 

Recently, Senator Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, introduced their legislative agenda for the City of Milwaukee. This plan from suburban Republicans does little to undo the harm that Wisconsin Republicans have done to Milwaukee communities and, in some cases, it would further damage neighborhood schools and local workers. 

While I appreciate the attention they’re paying to Milwaukee neighborhoods, Republicans largely ignore the root problems facing our neighborhoods and instead place Band-Aids that only further their political ideology.

Our schools and workers aren’t falling behind because they need to be placed in haphazard “enterprise zones” that undermine local control and put corporate interests ahead of the community. Those communities are falling behind because our state’s elected leaders are failing to provide the real infrastructure and investments needed for them to prosper. 

We can and must do better. It’s time to put a halt to the failed political experiments and extreme special interest agendas that rig the rules for the mega-rich and prevent our neighbors and families from getting ahead. Rather, we need to push ideas that prioritize real opportunity and security for Wisconsin communities, which is exactly what my Democratic colleagues and I have been fighting for. 

We’re fighting for families to be able to put more money in their pockets and work their way into the middle class. We’re fighting for raising the minimum wage and cutting taxes for low-income workers by restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, by providing incentives for local businesses to hire more employees, and by protecting our workers and private employers. We’re fighting to ensure our children and future generations have the opportunity to achieve their fullest potential in life by fully funding community-based education in our local public schools and ensuring our children have the support they need to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. We’re fighting to ensure that our elders, parents and children have the security of quality health-care coverage. And we’re fighting to keep our neighborhoods safe and secure by standing for sensible alternatives to our current gun laws that can keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, while still maintaining the freedom of law-abiding citizens to participate in our rich Wisconsin traditions. 

When Milwaukee succeeds, Wisconsin succeeds, and we can accomplish this by getting real about creating opportunities and providing security for Milwaukee’s neighborhoods and families.

State Rep. Mandela Barnes, D–Milwaukee, represents Wisconsin’s 11th Assembly District, which includes Milwaukee’s northeast side and parts of Glendale. 

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