In most ways, I'm a pretty typical single mom in Wisconsin.
These middle school years can be a challenge, but my son is a smart, kind, and funny person who is the light of my life. I have a career I enjoy and live in a great community with friends and neighbors who have one another's backs.
But here's where my story gets a little different -- my ex-husband, Randy Bryce, is running for Congress, and now D.C. politicians are putting our family's personal business all over the news and television, right where our son can see it.
In the 12 years that Randy and I have been blessed with our son, we have always worked together to put him first. As you may know or can imagine, divorce is very tough. No couple goes into marriage thinking of divorce, and, while at times Randy and I might disagree, I am still very grateful for the supportive and respectful co-parenting relationship we have.
I have never asked to be in the public spotlight and, frankly, have no interest in discussing details of my private life with strangers. When the negative attacks about our family first started to run back in May, I clarified for the media that Randy is a loving father who has been honest about his financial struggles. When he lost his job and fell behind on child support, Randy reached out to me, and we worked things out between ourselves, just like millions of other families do. Child support is very important, and Randy handles it as such.
I have asked that this matter be put to rest. Yet I turn on the TV, check my phone or social media, or open my mailbox, and I see I was ignored.
These D.C. politicians don't care to know all the facts about my family, and they don't care who they are hurting. They are passing judgment on situations they couldn't possibly understand - like living paycheck to paycheck, like not being able to miss a shift without falling behind on bills. I don't think people should be shamed for falling on hard times. Sometimes people need the opportunity to get back up and dust themselves off, and that's what Randy and I have done.
We as Americans face some really big issues right now, and it's going to be a tough road ahead for many families if change does not happen. We need elected officials who will focus on issues that affect us all, such as Social Security, Medicare, public education, affordable healthcare, and student loan debt, just to name a few.
Randy cares about these issues, about protecting working families like ours, and about our son. I again ask for these attacks to stop.
How we choose to invest in our children is one of the most important and critical parts of our state budget. Each and every one of our kids deserves a school that is fully able to meet their needs, but Walker and legislative Republicans have failed in this task and have instead focused on shifting more tax dollars to private, unaccountable voucher schools.
I strongly believe one of core pillars of what makes Wisconsin a great state is our dedication to a great education system, where every child has access to a quality education. It's such a part of who we are that it's actually in our state Constitution. Wisconsin must renew this value of supporting our local public schools, as it is crucial to strengthening our communities and state. Having strong neighborhood schools benefits everyone. Our kids will have more opportunities to live to their full potential. Even those who don't have children or whose children are grown enjoy the benefits of higher property values and community prosperity that come with having quality local public schools.
With Republicans at an impasse on the state budget that has a looming deadline, my Democratic colleagues on the Joint Finance Committee released a K-12 education plan that invests more than the governor's proposal and lowers property taxes by almost $25 million.
All of our children deserve a quality education. In order to achieve this goal, our schools must be a priority and be adequately and fairly funded. I'm proud to stand with my colleagues in standing up for our kids and fighting for their future.
The Dem education plan:
The Dem education plan also incorporates key voucher accountability pieces from a bill that I introduced last session. We know that our students and neighborhood schools are still struggling to recover from the largest cuts to education in our state's history. The Dem plan recommits and invests in our kids and public schools, but also ensures that every school receiving taxpayer dollars is held to the same standards and accountability.
Under 2015 Senate Bill 3, and included in the JFC education plan, are the following provisions:
As the lead Democratic member of the Senate Committee on Education, I have met with all of the 7th Senate District school districts as well as with educators, experts, other legislators, and advocates in order to come up with legislation that puts our kids on the road to opportunity and prosperity. As a public school parent, I remain committed to ensuring each child gets the education and opportunity they deserve.
In addition to fighting for our children's future to be a priority in the state budget, I have introduced several pieces of pro-public education legislation. For instance:
From Senator Jennifer Shilling:
Republicans propose “Permitless Carry” bill In wake of mass shootings, GOP wants to arm more teenagers
MADISON, WI – As gun lobbyists push to expand access to firearms across the country, Wisconsin Republicans announced their plan to allow dangerous individuals to carry firearms without a permit or background check. The “Permitless Carry” proposal by Wisconsin Republicans would lower the age to carry a concealed weapon and give dangerous individuals greater access to firearms. In response, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) released the following statement: “Gun violence in Wisconsin is a public health crisis. I don’t hear anyone clamoring to put more painkillers on the street to combat opioid abuse, so why do Republicans think more guns in the hands of dangerous criminals will make our communities safer? Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm in public without any safety training or a simple background check is completely irresponsible. “The overwhelming majority of Wisconsin residents agree that responsible individuals who want to carry a concealed weapon should go through a background check and obtain a permit. Too many men, women and children have already died as a result of gun violence. Rather than putting more guns in the hands of dangerous individuals, we should protect families and communities by closing the gun show loophole, strengthening background checks and keeping guns off school property.”
From State Rep. Chris Taylor:
GOP shows, once again, “anything goes” when it comes to guns
MADISON – Today, Republican legislators circulated a bill that allows people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit or any training, expands the ability of people to carry guns in schools, and removes age restrictions for carrying a concealed weapon. In response, Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) issued the following statement: “I wish I could say I’m surprised that following the tragedy in Wausau last week, Republicans are, once again, willing to expand access to firearms. We know that where there are less gun safety measures and more guns, more dangerous individuals get access to guns and more women die. We know that where there are less gun safety measures and more guns, more dangerous people get access to guns and more police officers die. And yet, here we are, making it easier for dangerous people to carry concealed weapons. “While it is indeed possible to keep our communities safe while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, permitless carry is not the way to do it. Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia acknowledged that “[i]t is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” If more guns made us safer, we would be the safest country in the world. Instead we are the deadliest industrialized nation with the highest gun homicide rate. Clearly, we must do more, not less, to keep dangerous individuals from getting guns.” Republicans can’t change these alarming facts: ‘“[R]ight-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates’ of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder” (Aneja, Donohue and Zhang 2014). There is “no support to the hypothesis that shall-issue laws have beneficial effects in reducing murder rates” (Grambsch, 2012). “[C]hanges in gun ownership are significantly positively related to changes in the homicide rate” (Ludwig, 2002).
From State Rep. Melissa Sargent:
Republican-Sponsored Gun Bill Irresponsible, Dangerous for Wisconsin Republican legislation makes a mockery of Wisconsin’s gun violence epidemic
(MADISON) – Representative Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) blasted Wisconsin Republicans today for the introduction of LRB-2039. The Republican-sponsored legislation, which touts more than 40 Republican supporters, would allow carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, make it legal to carry a taser, and would make it legal to carry a firearm onto school grounds, and into mental health facilities and hospitals “Honestly, at what point are Republicans going to ask themselves, ‘Are we really doing the best we can for our state?’” said Rep. Sargent. “Gun violence in Wisconsin isn’t a joke, it’s a public health crisis. This Republican legislation, which allows carrying a concealed weapon without a license, leaving guns unattended in cars on school grounds, or carrying a taser around in public, makes a mockery of thousands of people dying or being injured at the hands of guns in Wisconsin. “From 2002 to 2011, more people were killed with guns in Wisconsin than all combat deaths in the Iraq War, and this is the best Republicans can come up with to address this issue? It’s not just embarrassing, it’s appalling. Our state should be doing more to protect innocent lives. This bill is irresponsible and dangerous, and quite frankly, defies logic. Our state is facing a public health crisis, and it’s time for Republicans to start taking it seriously. “This legislation is the definition of insanity. Republicans are doing the same thing over and over, making it easier and easier for anyone to access violent weapons, and expecting different results, but the fact is, gun violence continues getting worse. The message to the people of Wisconsin is loud and clear: the Republican answer to Wisconsin’s gun violence epidemic is to making it easier for anyone to access and use a violent weapon, not harder. It speaks volumes about Republicans’ priorities and disregard for serious issues facing our state.”
The following is a newsletter from Rep. Cory Mason....
January 23, 2017
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I'm back! For the majority of last year, I was unable to send out Capitol Updates as my office complied with the Legislature's "Rule of 50." This law limits the amount of constituent correspondence sent out by elected officials during election years in order to maintain the integrity of the democratic process. Now that the election is over and we are beginning a new year and a new legislative session, I am pleased to resume my Capitol Updates. I hope you will find the information in this e-newsletter useful.
On January 3rd of this year, I was honored to be sworn in to my sixth term in state office. I was joined by my family: my wife, Judge Rebecca Mason, and our three children Eleanor Roosevelt Mason, Amelia Earhart Mason, and Cory H. Mason V. I am thrilled to continue to represent the people of Wisconsin's 66th Assembly District, serving the people of the City of Racine.
Water Sustainability Act
As we begin the new legislative session, I am authoring the Water Sustainability Act, legislation that will protect our precious natural resources and defend our environment. I have authored legislation with Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) that protects our state's water for the benefit of all Wisconsinites. This legislation seeks to upgrade our laws and environmental standards in order to identify areas where water withdrawals are not sustainable and utilize scientific advances to bring those unsustainable withdrawals back in balance. Senator Miller and I are reintroducing the bill, as the majority party declined to even hold a public hearing on this bill last session. For more information, check out this article published by the Wisconsin Gazette.
State of the State
January 10th, Governor Scott Walker delivered his State of the State address that once again demonstrated he is out of touch with Wisconsin's middle class families. Over the course of his speech the Governor failed to offer meaningful solutions to the growing student debt crisis, our stagnant job creation, or the transportation funding crisis currently affecting millions of people across our state. Gov. Walker also failed to mention protecting our air or water even once. I will be fighting to hold both Governor Walker and legislative Republicans accountable for their actions this session as they continue to ignore our state's most pressing policy problems and remove accountability from government.
Labor Hearing re Project Labor Agreements
Tomorrow the Assembly Committee on Labor, which I serve on, will discuss a bill that continues Wisconsin Republicans' assault on unions. Assembly Bill 24, authored by Representative Rob Hutton (R- Brookfield) and Senator Leah Vukmir (R- Brookfield) seeks to prohibit the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) by local governments. This bill unnecessarily eliminates local government decisions that create family-supporting jobs. PLAs between contractors and local governments have ensured success in project management for all involved parties. In fact, studies prove that PLAs increase workplace safety and diversity in the workforce, including helping veterans, women, and minorities find jobs that pay a living wage. During this hearing I look forward to listening to members of the community discuss why this bill is wrong for Wisconsin workers. I encourage you to read more about this important issue here, and to follow along with the progress of the bill here.
The opportunity to hear from my constituents is the most important part of my job and significantly informs my perspective as your Representative. If you have any questions, comments, or need help navigating our state government, please do not hesitate to contact me. You may contact my office by phone at (888) 534-0066, via email at Rep.Mason@legis.wi.gov, or by following me on Facebook.
66th Assembly District
MADISON – Today Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) offered the Democratic Weekly Radio Address. The topic this week is Governor Walker's latest State of the State Address, which offered few solutions to undo the damage the Republican agenda has done in Wisconsin.
"Governor Walker offered nothing more than Band-Aid proposals that are anemic and weak compared to the significant challenges we face," Rep. Shankland said. "While Republicans keep their focus on policies that harm our economy and our middle class, Democrats are determined to grow our economy, strengthen public education and bring back our middle class. That has been our agenda from Day One because that’s what the people of Wisconsin want and expect."
Senate Republican leadership had signaled that the Senate would be in session on Tuesday, November 3 to pass two destructive bills that would blow open the doors to more cronyism and corruption in Wisconsin. However, for the second week in a row, the GOP temporarily balked, slowing the runaway Tea Party policy train.
With increased spending and influence being plied on the few remaining moderate Republican legislators, Republican leadership -- with the help of billionaire special interests -- are strong-arming enough votes to pass a bill to politicize the Government Accountability Board as well as a bill that would allow an avalanche of special interest money to flow to political parties, burying principles and values under a mountain of money. Indications are bullying tactics are winning the votes and the GOP will rush the Senate in an extraordinary session on Friday, November 6 to take up these bills.
Democrats, hold-out Republicans, and the majority of our Wisconsin neighbors know that the passage of these bills will shred vital safeguards on clean government in Wisconsin.
To learn more about these destructive bills, click here to read about them in a previous Larson Report newsletter.
Help Senate Democrats kill these misguided bills -- that will squash Wisconsin's open government policies -- by doing the following:
1.) Sign this petition to say "no" to more corruption in politics.
2.) If you haven't already, please make sure to contact your own state senator to voice your opinion. Find out who your senator is, here, or call 1-800-362-9472.
3.) Share this message with friends and family and on social media to help spread the word about these dangerous bills. Check my Facebook page to share graphics and the petition.
Here are some of the horrifying things added to the proposed state budget
From Democratic Party of Wisconsin:
After taking Scott Walker to task -- twice -- earlier this week for his completely false and cynical claim that he had created 17,000 new ready-to-hire businesses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has today downgraded its assessment of Walker's central campaign promise to create 250,000 new private sector jobs, noting that "Wisconsin's latest jobs report moved sharply in the wrong direction."
In its latest "Walk-O-Meter" feature on Walker's central campaign promise, the Journal Sentinel writes "The report continues a trajectory that suggests it will be virtually impossible for Walker to meet his promise of creating 250,000 private-sector jobs in his four-year term. This is the view of two economists who follow the state closely and two business leaders who advised then-candidate Walker to make the promise."
The Journal Sentinel also quotes a report from Tom Hefty and John Torinus, two businessmen who advised Walker on the jobs goal in 2010, that appeared in the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that says, "...the state will not create 250,000 jobs by the end of 2014. Neither will Wisconsin be ranked as a top 10 state for business climate. Those goals, set out by Gov. Scott Walker in 2010, remain worthy. But they won't be achieved."
This is the second straight day of bad news for Walker, as yesterday's Marquette University Law School poll showed his support had fallen and Walker is tied with Democratic challenger Mary Burke at 46%.
Other key findings of the poll were that 70% of Wisconsin voters say the economy has stayed the same or gotten worse since Walker took office and 43% correctly believe that Wisconsin is lagging behind other states in job creation. The poll also indicates that a whopping 59% of Wisconsin voters say that extensive business experience is more important to becoming governor compared to just 27% who say that extensive political experience is more important.
Mary Burke, a former executive for Trek Bicycles, has a long track record of creating jobs in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and has relied on that experience to create her serious jobs plan that will turn Wisconsin into a top ten, thriving economy.
In contrast, Scott Walker has ignored job creation in Wisconsin as he campaigns for president around the country ; a bad choice, according the MU poll, which shows that 67% of voters don't think Scott Walker should run for president and 65% believe that a governor can't run for president and still fulfill the duties of their job.
"Support for Scott Walker is falling almost as fast and hard as he's made Wisconsin fall in the job creation rankings," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Thursday. "But while there's no remedy for Walker's failed agenda that's put his political ambitions ahead of Wisconsin's middle class, there is a remedy for Wisconsin's economy and it starts with electing Mary Burke as our new governor in November."