Madison Residents Share Thoughts About Walker’s Budget Proposal

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will be holding budget hearings in four communities around Wisconsin in April, but Madison won’t be one of them.

However, that didn’t stop some Madison residents and community leaders from trying to get answers about how Gov. Scott Walker’s budget plan could affect them at a meeting on Wednesday night. About 100 people joined city, county and state leaders at James Madison Memorial High School to offer up their thoughts and some solutions to the ongoing budget crisis. The meeting was hosted by Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, as well as leaders from the Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison College, Dane County and the state Legislature.

Speakers weighed in on the proposal, which includes deep cuts in state aid to school districts throughout Wisconsin.

“Recently, a report was released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau that in 2009 there was $1.1 billion in under-collected or under-reported taxes in the state of Wisconsin,” said Geoffrey Cushman, a student at Madison College. “In order to help bridge the gap in our budget shortfall, I don’t think we?re going to see increases in taxes, but we could go after that shortfall.”

Others wanted to explain how they believe the system is already broken when it comes to health care.

“I’m tired because I saw two women with very similar conditions, but (I) was forced to treat them differently because one had insurance, allowing me to place her on appropriate, efficient medication and the other did not, meaning we had to make do with what we could,” said Dr. Dipesh Naysaria, a pediatrician.

Though small, the crowd who gathered on Wednesday night was determined not to be silenced. But for some, there weren’t enough people there to listen and share their thoughts.

“I thought it was an opportunity for us to come out and hear what the budget has to offer and what it didn’t have to offer, more importantly,” said Catherine Martin, of Madison. “I didn’;t think there were enough people here.”

Organizers said that the comments shared by the group, both written and on video, will be sent to Walker and the Joint Finance Committee.

Official budgets hearings will be held in April in Stevens Point, Minong, Arcadia and West Allis.