Sen. Feyen: Issues to tackle

Welcome to West Bend, State Senator Dan Feyen (pictured below). And thanks to the opportunity to respond to your survey about the highest needs for public policy in Wisconsin. My response is below.

You replaced Duey Strobel as the senator for the reconfigured 20th District, which includes West Bend, Fond du Lac, Belgium, Jackson and Theresa. We appreciated Strobel’s diligence and intelligence, though he is a hard-right politician who is uncompromising on many policy issues.

In your opening letter to constituents of the new 20th District, you repeat the standard GOP line about supporting smaller, smarter government. You hit a common chord in your support for apprenticeships and elimination of the small personal property tax.

But you left many of the major issues facing the state unsaid. You undoubtedly know as chairman of the Economic Development Committee in the senate that the state is a laggard on economic growth and prosperity. We have been losing share of the national GDP for decades and our wages are below average. We need to reinvent the Wisconsin economy for stronger growth, and part of that challenge relates to the need to reorganize the University of Wisconsin Systems.

We ask you to be creative and innovative in crafting public policy for the state as you asked for. Here is list of some of the bigger issues and challenges that you need to embrace:

  1. Consolidate the two-year UW colleges with Wisconsin Technical College System.
  2. Reorganize the University of Wisconsin System to make it less Madison-centric. Create a Blue-Ribbon Task Force to rethink the structure of the UW System in collaboration with Wisconsin’s 20 private colleges.
  3. Reverse consolidation of hospital corporations in Wisconsin and their anti-competitive practices. Eliminate collusion by Wisconsin health care corporations on fixing prices. Both are used primarily to push up health care prices.
  4. Use part of state surplus to endow Wisconsin Stewardship Fund and eliminate its debt financing.
  5. Promote entrepreneurship and startups to promote economic development in Wisconsin’s lagging economy, including an increase of the Wisconsin investment tax credit from 25% to 40%. That stimulus works.
  6. Establish a Public Service Commission to oversee pricing, costs and access in the Medical Industrial Complex in Wisconsin.
  7. Require the UW System and WTCS to sharply increase their education programs and graduates in nursing, public health, medical technology and mental health. Use the under-utilized Blue Cross endowment to do so.
  8. Charge the UW Institute for Influenza Viral Research to complete an urgent analysis of the bird flu virus that is jumping to cows and possibly milk. Dairy is the foundation for one of the state’s largest industries.
  9. Encourage recruitment of highly skilled migrants from foreign countries to help fill the severe labor shortages in the state. We have almost no in-migration.
  10. Strike a compromise on women’s reproductive health as was previously the law of the land before Roe v. Wade was struck down. Only a compromise on this wrenching issue will work as a way forward.
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