Well, what an interesting couple of weeks it’s been here in Madison…
It all kicked off after a “drafting error” showed the true intentions of Governor Scott Walker — instituting massive budget cuts of $300M to the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years. Needless to say, students, professors and community members were less than thrilled. A systematic dismantling of the UW System and “Wisconsin Idea” prompted numerous on-campus Q&A sessions and rallies in opposition to the proposed budget.
Unrest only grew this week.
Mere days after the proposed cuts were made public did more unexpected news arrive. Despite earlier claims that it would be a “distraction,” Wisconsin legislators announced their plan to make Wisconsin the 25th “right-to-work” state, another attempt to reduce the influence of unions only a few short years after Wisconsin Act 10 was passed, breaking down the rights of public sector unions and collective bargaining power.
As a fairly new resident to Wisconsin, I’m utterly struck by the complete and utter disconnect between our politicians and the people they purport to represent. Is it a fundamental issue of constituents voting against their own best interests? An uninformed electorate? A continuous cycle of politicians who promise to do one thing, then do the opposite? I honestly don’t know.
And as I look across the border to my home state of Minnesota, I wonder how those running Wisconsin can honestly see our neighbor’s successes yet denounce their methods.
Obviously, I’m exceptionally grateful to have this amazing chance to cover what’s happening in (what’s now) my state for the New York Times recently. I just wish I had better news and more human stories to be reporting — not a divided populace, disingenuous governing body, and a stumbling economy.