Friday, May 8, 2009

State Facing "Economic Natural Disaster" But Still Pushes For Domestic Partner Benefits

On Thursday, May 7th Gov. Jim Doyle announced the budget deficit has exploded to up to $6.5 BILLION DOLLARS in the State of Wisconsin. He is speaking of the potential of laying off up to 1100 state employees and placing on furlough non- emergency workers up to eight days a year and also rescinding 2% pay increases. And he is talking about further cuts in aid to schools and local governments. The co- chairs of the Joint Committee on Finance compared this budget deficit “like a natural disaster except in economic terms.”

And what’s so AMAZING despite this dismal economic condition in our state, the Governor still has not rescinded his push for the creation of a new special category of benefits in Wisconsin which includes the establishment of a domestic partnership registry AND domestic partner benefits for State employees.

The University of Wisconsin News is reporting that the Joint Committee on Finance is slated to take up the Governor’s provision on domestic partner benefits for ALL State employees later this month. Biddy Martin, UW-Madison Chancellor, sent a letter to each member of the Joint Finance Committee Member emphasizing the importance of these benefits. The Chancellor wrote, “I understand the budget challenges the state faces, and in light of that difficulty we must find ways to recognize the valuable contributions faculty, staff and all state employees make. Providing this benefit is an important piece of that effort.” According to the Chancellor’s own letter, the cost for establishing this new category of special benefits would cost the state over a half a million dollars for the University system alone. Keep in mind that the University system is only one state agency. There are approximately 65 state agencies.

You may contact the members of the Joint Committee on Finance at the numbers below. You may also contact your own State Senator and State Representative on the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 1-800-362-9472.

Joint Committee on Finance Members

Assembly Members: Phone: Home
Rep. Mark Pocan (D), Co-Chair
Rep. Pedro Colon (D)
Rep. Cory Mason (D)
Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D)
Rep. Gary Sherman (D)
Rep. Tamara Grigsby (D)
Rep. Robin Vos(R)
Rep. Phil Montgomery (R)

Senate Members:
Sen. Mark Miller (D), Co-Chair
Sen. Dave Hansen (D)
Sen. Lena Taylor (D)
Sen. John Lehman (D)
Sen. Judy Robson (D)
Sen. Julie Lassa (D)
Sen. Alberta Darling (R)
Sen. Luther Olsen (R)