Governor Scott Walker touted low unemployment and massive gains in education and the economy over the past year in his state of the state address last month. But today, minority leaders in both the community and the legislature painted a very different story.
Leaders at the very first state of Black and Brown Wisconsin today had a less rosy view than Walker when he addressed the Legislature last month.
The Black and Latino caucus organized the event, which involved speeches from Madison and Milwaukee community leaders and legislators.
Lawmakers from the caucus called on their colleagues to turn their attention to minority issues.
Like other speakers, State Senator Lena Taylor from Milwaukee highlighted state disparities in incarceration, dangerous lead pipes in communities of color, and the troubled Lincoln Hills youth prison.
Taylor says, “I would be remissed if I told you about our problems in our state in being the worst place in the nation to raise a black child and be a black American… it is our responsibility to collectively work together because collective work and that concept is really about the only way we are going to get where we need to.
JoCasta Zamarripa is a representative from Milwaukee and the first Latina woman elected to the Wisconsin legislature. She says Walker left a major group out of his address last month.
“When Governor Walker gave his state of the state address, he didn’t mention the struggles of Latinos or immigrants in our state… We need to fight for this community, not just in Washington D.C. at the federal level, but right here at home in our state’s capitol.”
She points to legislation from Democrats that Republicans at the Capitol have continued to block such as a bill that would create drivers’ cards for undocumented immigrants
Representative David Bowen is another lawmaker in the caucus. He points to the race gap between high school graduation rates in the state.
Bowen says, “Right now, the current graduation rate for white students [in Wisconsin] is at 92.7%. That is the third highest in the nation. The black graduation rate is at 64.2%, the second lowest in the nation.”
This is the first state of Black and Brown Wisconsin address, but the caucus hopes to make it an annual event.