I first met Rebecca back when she was a TV news anchor and reporter for WISN-TV in Milwaukee. But I really developed a collaboration and yes, friendship with her when I worked with her and Governor Walker during their administration. I was the Public Information Officer at WHEDA, the state housing authority, and worked on numerous projects with both Scott and Rebecca, too many to mention here.
I recall during my years at WHEDA being invited via a working collaboration to be a quest at a convention luncheon at the Wisconsin Club by a national volunteer organization. Rebecca was the keynote speaker in a jam packed ballroom.
At my table of about 10-12 I was the lone guest from Wisconsin. Others were spread out from the Midwest, and I’m not just talking Illinois or Michigan.
Prior to Rebecca’s speech we all got to know one another and it became clear I was the only Badger at the table.
Rebecca spoke and as usual electrified her audience. She always lights up a room and this was no exception.
At one point during her speech one of the gentlemen about three seats down from my table, and he was from a distant Midwestern state that I can’t remember, looked over at me during Rebecca’s applause and asked, “This is your lieutenant governor? “ When I affirmed he immediately responded, “I wish she was in our state!”
I know Rebecca. Very well. And she’s the real deal. No one has outworked her during this campaign. She had all specific answers on every issue. And no one will outwork her as governor. I have the utmost confidence that she will be an outstanding governor.
Substitute teachers. Rebecca believes bureaucrats in Madison should not be allowed to keep a stranglehold on substitutes with multi-month application and approval processes and multiple fees. Districts know their communities best. Any adult with a bachelor’s or associate degree who passes a comprehensive background check should be able to help out in a classroom once approved by their local district.
Youth athletics. Rebecca supports protecting fair rules for competition and believes biological boys should not compete in girl’s sports.
School choice and charter schools. Rebecca saysWisconsin needs to expand the circle of charter authorizers to break the bottleneck that currently forces charters to depend on institutions pressured by anti-reform forces. We must continue creating more choices for parents, including supporting the best nonpublic schools in Milwaukee to expand their life-changing impact to more students. There should be a goal that no student is stuck on a waitlist or dependent on the luck of a lottery for a decent education. And we should have one uniform set of rules and requirements to qualify for educational choice regardless of zip code.
Special-needs students. Rebecca says the special needs scholarship begun by state government a few years ago was a good first step, but we need to grant these families maximum flexibility to pay for not only school but tutors, therapies, curriculum, and other special education supports. Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) are the best tools to give the greatest flexibility to families dealing with unique situations. Rebecca supports starting education savings accounts for special-needs students.
Police are rightly labeled first responders; their job is to arrive first and secure, stabilize, and assess the situation. That is an incredibly important — and dangerous — role. But we talk too little about second re-sponders — the child welfare worker who comes to a domestic violence call; the foster parents who take in a traumatized child; the ER nurse asking a sexual assault victim to complete a rape kit; a healthcare worker dealing with a mentally unstable homeless man. Those are not easy jobs either. And just as liberals are crazy to say we can replace all the cops with social workers, conservatives are making a mistake if we ignore the call from cops to fully fund these support systems they need to succeed.
We need more mental health resources, and more people in various health and safety systems trained in mental health awareness. We also need more mental health professionals across the credential spectrum; not every mental health response requires a board-certified psychiatrist or psychologist.
If we can get more nurses trained in mental health, we can grow our overall mental health workforce far faster than a decades-long solution with scholarships for psychiatrists.
We pursued regionalized centers of excellence (“hubs and spokes”) in treating opioid addiction, and a similar strategy can help with mental health, and ease the burden of law enforcement trying to cope with transporting people in mental health crisis.
Finally, we need to ensure professionals across the service spectrum are trained to be mental health aware. Many of our first responders simply don’t know basic tools and strategies for effective crisis intervention because no one has ever taught them. All first responders should have basic mental-health training.
Rebecca contends COVID reminded all of us of the vulnerability of our parents and grandparents in their final stages. She believes government must show respect for our elderly. That means fighting nursing home abuse, investing in our nursing workforce, cost-sharing for relatives who live with family, and vowing that a pandemic will never leave family members cut off from their parents’ passing away.
On this day in 2016, the Alexander Company’s proposal to rehabilitate and restore six of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District’s unused buildings for their original purpose – the service of veterans was selected.
The Soldiers Home Administration Building is located within the administrative-recreation cluster of buildings on the Soldiers Home grounds. Built in 1896, it once served as the Soldiers Home’s post office. The Administration Building was recently rehabilitated and now provides housing for 14 veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of being homeless and the original mailboxes have been saved and restored.
I worked as an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker at WHEDA, the state housing authority. WHEDA is non-partisan and does wonders for the state of Wisconsin. One of the great WHEDA stories I was involved in was one I wrote about in the summer of 2017. As part of WHEDA’s Transform Milwaukee initiative during the Walker administration WHEDA approved financing to build apartments for veterans at the Soldiers Home complex on the grounds of the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee.
Rebecca was with us the day we broke ground in 2017.
Gov. Scott Walker is surrounded by supporters as he signs Act 10 in the Governor’s conference room at the Wisconsin State Capitol Friday afternoon. March 12, 2011. (Photo: GARY PORTER/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL)
Last October Rebecca discussed school board members who had to contend with parents angry over controversial curriculum and COVID policies.
“I would love for these folks to have gone through what Gov. Scott Walker and I went through during the recalls: The vuvuzelas and the drums, and the death threats, and the people who were showering inside the public restrooms, sleeping two-by-two in sleeping bags, banging on cars, threatening my children, spreading lies and intimidating us. Imagine if school board members felt something like that. Instead, all they feel is the pressure of their actual constituents asking them to do their job.”
In a column Kleefisch wrote four days before those comments, she spoke out clearly against violence targeting school board members.
“Let’s be clear: violence to achieve political ends in America is wrong,” she wrote. “I myself have faced the screams of protestors threatening violence when the Walker-Kleefisch Administration and the Republican Legislature passed our Act 10 reforms in 2011. I didn’t notice outrage from the Left then.”
Gov. Walker wrote in his book “Unintimidated.”:
So they threw everything they had at us. They mobilized some one hundred thousand protesters to take over the Wisconsin State capitol in a sit in that helped give birth to the Occupy movement. They transported agitators from Illinois, New York, Nevada, and other states; banged drums and blasted horns day and night; harassed and spit on lawmakers as they made their way through the capitol; and turned our historic rotunda into a theater of the absurd.
They picketed my home and those of Republican lawmakers, harassed our families at school and even at the grocery store, and shouted us down at county fairs and ceremonial events across Wisconsin—all in an effort to intimidate us.
Both Rebecca and Gov. Walker received death threats and were targeted for recall elections in 2012, which they won. And they got ACT 10 approved and signed into law. Rebecca has fought the battles and won the war.
Rebecca plans to push taxpayers toward a 3.54% flat income tax on the way to eliminating the state income tax completely. The tax cut will make Wisconsin the most income taxpayer-friendly state compared to its neighbors. She also signed the Americans for Tax Reform Taxpayer Protection Pledge, memorializing her commitment to oppose net tax increases.
And here’s one we’ve haven’t heard much about at all during the campaign. Rebecca wants to end gender-specific sales taxes.
What does that mean?
Obnoxious. That’s what Rebecca calls the tax on feminine products.
“We don’t tax necessities like food and medical supplies, and we should not have a sales tax on other hygiene necessities,” says Rebecca. “The first state in the nation to pass the 19th Amendment guaranteeing equality in voting should not be the last state in the nation to extend basic tax fairness to all necessary purchases.”
SRO’s. School Resource Officers in our school buildings are invaluable.
Joey Melvin, an instructor and Region 3 director for the National Association of School Resource Officers and a detective/school resource officer with the Georgetown Police Department in Sussex County wrote a column in USA TODAY in September 2020 that read in part:
Some communities across the country want to divert SRO resources to nurses and full-time mental health support. The value of adding health resources to our schools cannot be disputed. However, as an experienced school resource professional, I feel that what needs to transpire is not a transference of focus or funding, but an addition to resources within our schools. In my opinion, replacing one resource with another cannot occur without negative impacts.
As SROs know their communities, they also know their students. Understanding a student’s background and, more importantly, any trauma our students have experienced plays an integral role in an SRO’s decisions.
The physical safety of our school campuses is an essential role for the trained SRO. That’s an integral part of any SRO’s job, and there’s data to support the positive aspects of it, but the majority of positive impacts SROs make every day cannot be quantified with data. Mitigating situations, preventing crimes, mentoring children and building trusting relations are hard to track, but abundantly exist in schools with effective SRO programs.
On the one hand, we don’t want to turn everyday school discipline issues into criminal concerns that can ruin a kid’s start in life. But we fundamentally don’t believe that’s what school resource officers do. We believe they create a positive presence for police among youth, fight drug addiction among youth, and help head off and reduce youth crime through early intervention. We should have more SROs, not fewer, because teachers need to teach, not perform law enforcement duties.