In the week leading up to the 8th Senate District recall election on Aug. 9, state Rep. Sandy Pasch and state Sen. Alberta Darling are making their case to the Milwaukee Press Club.
Pasch’s appearance before the press club on Monday came on the same day that the asking the state to investigate whether there is any collusion between Pasch's campaign and Citizen Action of Wisconsin, a special-interest group. The Whitefish Bay Democrat is on the board of directors of the group, which has supported Pasch and other Democratic recall candidates.
Pasch said she is only involved in the non-profit element of the organization, and she said she is positive the state Government Accountability Board will not find any indication of wrongdoing.
“I have not had no contact with them about any political activities or any political plans that they’ve been making. I cut off contact with them,” she said. “I think it’s ridiculous that the Republican Party is trying to portray this as something that is more than it is.”
Pasch was the only speaker at the press club’s Newsmaker Luncheon Monday. The group invited both Darling and Pasch to debate in the same setting, but Darling declined the offer, so the two candidates made their appearances on consecutive days. Patch will report on Darling’s Press Club appearance on Tuesday.
While Darling has touted reports that most school districts will not be hurt in the first year of reduced education funding, Pasch said there are still districts losing teachers under the cuts and other districts will be placed in a tough position in the near future.
“My opponent keeps saying the sky’s not falling. I hear that over and over again,” she said. “I think that’s a poor measure for how we value our public education.”
That is a contrast in priorities from when Democrats were in the majority when she took office in 2009, Pasch said. At that time, the state was facing a $6.6 billion budget deficit, and under Gov. Jim Doyle, Pasch said the Legislature cut 5 percent to 10 percent from almost every program, with 3.5 percent cuts in public education.
She said Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Darling, of River Hills, have taken a more “shortsighted” approach.
“Instead of looking strategically at across-the-board cuts or looking carefully at what are essential programs that they can’t cut, they went right after education, with $1.6 billion in cuts, including numerous cuts in categorical aids," Pasch said. "That is the largest cut in the state’s history to public education…Going after education to balance the state’s budget is incredibly shortsighted.”
She also said the GOP's cuts to Planned Parenthood and limits on FamilyCare could end up costing taxpayers more money in the long run.
Pasch said both of these shortfalls in health insurance coverage will be passed on to taxpayers.
“If they don’t increase access to services, people do not get healthier. The cost is spread around," she said. "Maybe we do not see it, but it is spread into police departments, it spreads into emergency rooms and it spreads into property taxes.”
When asked why neither side has campaigned much on the issue of collective bargaining, Pasch said it was a spark to broader concerns about Walker's budget, such as Department of Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith's added authority over the eligibility of health insurance benefits.
"People have seen a continuing assault on many, many values in the state of Wisconsin," she said.