A wish list from seven moms for a senator whose actions have made life harder for Wisconsin families, especially during the pandemic.
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, we know lots of you are scrambling to figure out what exactly to get the caregivers in your life. And while there are plenty of helpful lists and suggestions out there, we thought we’d make it easier for one person in particular—Sen. Ron Johnson.
It would be inappropriate for us to assume that because Sen. Johnson has a wife and two daughters that he already would be well-versed in the things that really matter to Wisconsin moms. And we don’t really need to assume, because Johnson’s disappointing voting record and cringe-worthy comments speak for themselves.
So in an effort to educate our senior senator, we offer the following suggestions for what we really need from him this Mother’s Day:
- Paid leave and paid sick days for all. In March 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Sen. Johnson opposed bipartisan efforts to mandate paid sick leave and expand federal unemployment benefits saying it could lead to “incentivizing people to not show up for work.” We should all be there for our families when they need us most. Right now, too many families in Wisconsin worry about balancing work, family, and finances when they’re caring for a sick family member, welcoming a new child, or taking care of their health during an extended illness. Thousands of hardworking people across the Badger State have no guarantee that they won’t miss a critical paycheck when these things happen. Ensuring that everyone has access to paid family and medical leave means that no one will have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of their family.
- Affordable child care. Earlier this year in an attempt to justify his opposition to federal investments in child care, Sen. Johnson boldly claimed it’s not “society’s responsibility to take care of other people’s children” and even went so far as to suggest that an “elegant solution” to the crisis is to have moms on government assistance take care of everyone’s kids. Too many Wisconsin families are struggling to find reliable, affordable child care. The average annual cost of infant care in Wisconsin is over $11,000, and only 21% of families in the Badger State are able to afford it. For toddlers, the numbers are not much better: only 30% of families are able to afford it. More than half of Americans live in areas where licensed child care is difficult to find. The problem is especially serious in rural areas. Despite these exorbitant costs, Johnson opposed the expanded child tax credit, which provides a tax cut to families with children.
- Accessible health care. Whether it’s continually calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, refusal to rein in pharmaceutical companies and lower the cost of prescription drugs, or his outright hostility toward our reproductive freedoms, Sen. Johnson’s reckless policies are harming Wisconsinites. Roughly 224,000 Wisconsinites are currently enrolled in comprehensive health care plans through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), including 28,000 children. It has also allowed roughly 41,000 young people in Wisconsin to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, covered the cost of preventive services for nearly three million people across the state, and continues to lower the cost of premiums for many Wisconsinites.
- Better schools for our kids. Just over a year ago, Sen. Johnson was known as the chief obstructionist of the American Rescue Plan. Once it finally passed, not only did the law provide lifesaving relief for millions of Wisconsin residents, but it also made historic investments in Badger State schools in response to the pandemic. The last two years have left Wisconsin children feeling isolated and frustrated with school work, transformed the jobs of teachers, and forced parents and caretakers to pull triple-duty. Johnson was a significant roadblock to the American Rescue Plan, delaying efforts to reopen our schools safely, combat learning loss, and address student mental health. Eventually, Wisconsin received $2.1 billion in funding for schools from the American Rescue Plan, including $1.5 billion for K-12 schools and $556.7 million for higher education.
While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it will go a long way toward ensuring Wisconsin caregivers and their families are able to get ahead. Sen. Johnson has spent his entire career looking out for the wealthy and well-connected and it’s time he starts fighting on behalf of the Badger State. Because as they say, “Moms know best.”
Jillynn Mortensen is a mother and child care provider from Monroe
Barbara Jean Tagger-Appleby is a mother and retired parole officer from Milwaukee
Tammy Dannhoff is a mother and child care provider from Oshkosh
Sara Thielen is a mother and registered nurse from Eau Claire
Tashyra Jackson is a mother and executive director from La Crosse
Julia Meyer is a mother and scientist from Wausau
Shawnu Ksicinski is a mother and executive director from Superior
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