The impact on our communities is going to be dramatic.
We're in the midst of Women's History Month, and women in Wisconsin are at the forefront of the historic opposition to Scott Walker's assaults.
The proposed state budget cuts by the Walker administration would disproportionately impact women, people of color and people living near the poverty line. As mothers and women of color, we realize the impact on our communities is going to be dramatic, and so we are working with sister organizations across the state to bring light to this.
Sarah Noble, the Managing Director of the Reproductive Justice Collective, takes issue with budget cuts, particularly those to health care and other family-supporting services.
"Governor Walker's plan weakens Medicaid programs, like BadgerCare, which will take away health care for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin families," she says. "The state is trying to make it harder for all people to enroll in Medicaid, require more paperwork and more frequent income reviews, as well as end coverage of optometry services, dental care, prescription drugs, birth control and other contraceptive services."
Walker's budget bill sends a clear message to women of color in this state: "The well-being of your families is not a priority."
Walker's cuts, says Noble, "would force women of color into harsher realities by making it more difficult to get and maintain employment. They would also increase the hurdles in the way of obtaining equitable health care for women of color and their families."
In addition to cutting the budget, the Republican majority legislature has also introduced a series of bills that Milwaukee women find detrimental to the health of their families and communities.
Rhonda Willete, from the Milwaukee chapter of 9to5, the National Association for Working Women, is speaking out in opposition to Senate Bill 23, which would nullify a Milwaukee ordinance that ensures all workers get paid sick days.
Women, who are in the workplace at increasingly high rates, need flexibility in order to care for their families.
Willete cites what happened to her daughter. "She was eight-months pregnant when she had a severe asthma attack at work," she says. "My daughter lost her job and ended up unemployed. Paid sick days could have saved her job. And, now the Walker administration is threatening to take away a measure that would keep women like my daughter employed and their families healthy."
Jayme Montgomery Baker, who works with the League of Young Voters Education Fund, is another Milwaukee mother defending her community from this administration. Montgomery Baker takes issue with the Voter ID Bill, a measure that would require voters to show a WI state ID prior to casting their ballot.
"The purpose of this bill is to combat fraudulent voting, but really it is a poll tax on students, the elderly and communities of color," she says. "The state has not been able to prove that there is a problem with fraud. Our problem is the lack of jobs, any other conversation is only meant to serve as a distraction from the real crisis."
This Women's History month, let's acknowledge the women of our own communities who are making history right now.
And let's be clear: Governor Walker is choosing to go backward, not forward in supporting women and our families. He is dishonoring Women's History Month.
Sharlen Moore is the director of Urban Underground in Milwaukee, and Kazbuag Vaj is co-executive director of Freedom Inc. in Madison.
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