The next time you encounter a political candidate, like Joan Ballweg, ask them one or more of these questions

If you are not sure what to ask a polit­i­cal can­di­date the next time you run into one, con­sid­er ask­ing one or more of these ques­tions. We can’t take cred­it for the ques­tions, how­ev­er. The ques­tions came from Matt Roth­schild, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Wis­con­sin Democ­ra­cy Cam­paign.

If you do get a chance to ask a ques­tion of some­one like Joan Ball­weg, pic­tured above at Ripon Col­lege ear­li­er this year, either in writ­ing or in per­son, please record or jot down the answer and share it with us. We’d love to know where Ball­weg, who rep­re­sents the 41st Assem­bly Dis­trict, stands on these issues. 

View Ballweg’s email address and her phone num­ber.

1. Are you for ban­ning ger­ry­man­der­ing in Wis­con­sin? In oth­er words, do you back the Iowa mod­el of inde­pen­dent, non­par­ti­san, and trans­par­ent map draw­ing by career civ­il ser­vants – not the par­ty in pow­er?

2. Are you in favor of rewrit­ing our cam­paign finance law to ban cor­po­ra­tions, unions, and oth­er groups from giv­ing direct­ly to polit­i­cal par­ties and leg­isla­tive cam­paign com­mit­tees?

3. Are you in favor of requir­ing those bogus “issue-advo­ca­cy” groups to dis­close who is giv­ing them mon­ey so that we can find out who is pay­ing for all the mud they’re throw­ing at our screens in an elec­tion sea­son?

4. Are you in favor of ban­ning coor­di­na­tion between can­di­dates and these bogus “issue-advo­ca­cy” groups?

5. Are you in favor of impos­ing a low ceil­ing on how much an indi­vid­ual can give to polit­i­cal par­ties? Right now in Wis­con­sin, the sky is the lim­it.

6. Are you in favor of impos­ing a low ceil­ing on how much an indi­vid­ual can give to a par­tic­u­lar can­di­date? Right now, if you’re super rich, you may give $20,000 to each can­di­date for every statewide office: gov­er­nor, lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, attor­ney gen­er­al, sec­re­tary of state, and state supreme court jus­tice.

7. Are you in favor of requir­ing donors to can­di­dates to dis­close the names of their employ­ers, as cam­paigns were required to report for decades pri­or to the 2015 cam­paign finance law over­haul?

8. Are you in favor of pub­lic financ­ing of elec­tions?

9. Are you in favor of tight recusal rules for judges and jus­tices when one of the par­ties to a case also hap­pens to be, or rep­re­sents, one of their big donors?

10. Are you in favor of amend­ing the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion to pro­claim, once and for all, that cor­po­ra­tions aren’t per­sons and mon­ey isn’t speech?


OPINION: If elected, Evers could be key check on future Republican redistricting efforts

By Mal­colm McIn­tyre

Look­ing for anoth­er rea­son to sup­port Tony Evers in his bat­tle to unseat incum­bent Repub­li­can Gov. Scott Walk­er. Con­sid­er this: The win­ner of the Nov. 6 gen­er­al elec­tion has veto pow­er over the redis­trict­ing that will take place in 2020. This means that if Evers wins he will serve as a check on the Repub­li­can legislature’s attempts to either keep the already gross­ly ger­ry­man­dered Con­gres­sion­al, state sen­ate and state assem­bly dis­tricts in the state or even worse, any attempts to make them even more Repub­li­can-friend­ly (is that pos­si­ble?).

Here is what Bal­lot­pe­dia wrote in a recent post: “The win­ner of the gen­er­al elec­tion will be involved in the state’s redis­trict­ing process fol­low­ing the 2020 cen­sus. Under Wis­con­sin state law, the state leg­is­la­ture is respon­si­ble for draw­ing new maps for U.S. House and state leg­isla­tive seats fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the cen­sus. The gov­er­nor has the pow­er to veto these dis­trict map pro­pos­als. Click here for more infor­ma­tion on redis­trict­ing pro­ce­dures.

Looking for factual, unbiased information to help inform your votes in the future?

One of the great frus­tra­tions we face when deal­ing with the polit­i­cal envi­ron­ment is find­ing infor­ma­tion that can inform our vot­ing. While there are numer­ous resources, includ­ing media plat­forms, that we can access, often the infor­ma­tion is incom­plete, biased, or just wrong.

The Cen­ter for Inves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ism, a Wis­con­sin-based non­par­ti­san non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion, has cre­at­ed a web page that may help you clear away some of the con­fu­sion.

On the page (view link), you’ll find links to infor­ma­tion that will help you bet­ter answer these ques­tions:

Campaign Finance and Lobbying

How can I dig into state cam­paign finance data?

How can I find who is lob­by­ing whom over what?

How do I find sim­i­lar infor­ma­tion on cam­paign finance and lob­by­ing in oth­er states?

How do I track cam­paign dona­tions and spend­ing for fed­er­al can­di­dates, like U.S. sen­a­tors and con­gress­peo­ple?

How can I cor­re­late con­tri­bu­tions to votes?

The Wisconsin Legislature: Bills and Spending

How can I find a par­tic­u­lar bill?

To under­stand what is being pro­posed:

To keep tabs on pend­ing leg­is­la­tion: 

What else can I learn about past and pend­ing leg­is­la­tion?

How can I track state agency spend­ing?

How can I check up on a non­prof­it group?

What infor­ma­tion is avail­able on cor­po­ra­tions, includ­ing non­prof­its, that are oper­at­ing in my state?

What can I learn about indi­vid­ual labor unions?

What can I learn about an employer’s record on work­place safe­ty?


Report says after 7 years of Walker/GOP policies in Wisconsin, state lags behind Minnesota in economic performance

IPC study asks which approach has led to better outcomes for working people and their families?


Since the 2010 elec­tion of Gov­er­nor Scott Walk­er in Wis­con­sin and Gov­er­nor Mark Day­ton in Min­neso­ta, law­mak­ers in these two neigh­bor­ing states have enact­ed vast­ly dif­fer­ent pol­i­cy agen­das. Gov­er­nor Walk­er and the Wis­con­sin state leg­is­la­ture have pur­sued a high­ly con­ser­v­a­tive agen­da cen­tered on cut­ting tax­es, shrink­ing gov­ern­ment, and weak­en­ing unions. In con­trast, Min­neso­ta under Gov­er­nor Day­ton has enact­ed a slate of pro­gres­sive pri­or­i­ties: rais­ing the min­i­mum wage, strength­en­ing safe­ty net pro­grams and labor stan­dards, and boost­ing pub­lic invest­ments in infra­struc­ture and edu­ca­tion, financed through high­er tax­es (large­ly on the wealthy).

Because of the prox­im­i­ty and many sim­i­lar­i­ties of these two states, com­par­ing eco­nom­ic per­for­mance in the Bad­ger State (WI) ver­sus the Gopher State (MN) pro­vides a com­pelling case study for assess­ing which agen­da leads to bet­ter out­comes for work­ing peo­ple and their fam­i­lies.

Now, sev­en years removed from when each gov­er­nor took office, there is ample data to assess which state’s economy—and by exten­sion, which set of policies—delivered more for the wel­fare of its res­i­dents.

The results could not be more clear: by vir­tu­al­ly every avail­able mea­sure, Minnesota’s recov­ery has out­per­formed Wisconsin’s. The fol­low­ing report describes how Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s economies have per­formed since 2010 on a host of key dimen­sions, and dis­cuss­es the pol­i­cy deci­sions that influ­enced or drove those out­comes.

Key find­ings include:

  • Job growth since Decem­ber 2010 has been marked­ly stronger in Min­neso­ta than Wis­con­sin, with Min­neso­ta expe­ri­enc­ing 11.0 per­cent growth in total non­farm employ­ment, com­pared with only 7.9 per­cent growth in Wis­con­sin. Minnesota’s job growth was bet­ter than Wisconsin’s in the over­all pri­vate sec­tor (12.5 per­cent vs. 9.7 per­cent) and in high­er-wage indus­tries, such as con­struc­tion (38.6 per­cent vs. 26.0 per­cent) and edu­ca­tion and health care (17.3 per­cent vs. 11.0 per­cent).
  • From 2010 to 2017, wages grew faster in Min­neso­ta than in Wis­con­sin at every decile in the wage dis­tri­b­u­tion. Low-wage work­ers expe­ri­enced much stronger growth in Min­neso­ta than Wis­con­sin, with infla­tion-adjust­ed wages at the 10th and 20th per­centile ris­ing by 8.6 per­cent and 9.7 per­cent, respec­tive­ly, in Min­neso­ta vs. 6.3 per­cent and 6.4 per­cent in Wis­con­sin.
  • Gen­der wage gaps also shrank more in Min­neso­ta than in Wis­con­sin. From 2010 to 2017, women’s medi­an wage as a share of men’s medi­an wage rose by 3.0 per­cent­age points in Min­neso­ta, and by 1.5 per­cent­age points in Wis­con­sin.
  • Medi­an house­hold income in Min­neso­ta grew by 7.2 per­cent from 2010 to 2016. In Wis­con­sin, it grew by 5.1 per­cent over the same peri­od. Medi­an fam­i­ly income exhib­it­ed a sim­i­lar pat­tern, grow­ing 8.5 per­cent in Min­neso­ta com­pared with 6.4 per­cent in Wis­con­sin.
  • Min­neso­ta made greater progress than Wis­con­sin in reduc­ing over­all pover­ty, child pover­ty, and pover­ty as mea­sured under the Cen­sus Bureau’s Sup­ple­men­tal Pover­ty Mea­sure. As of 2016, the over­all pover­ty rate in Wis­con­sin as mea­sured in the Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Sur­vey (11.8 per­cent) was still rough­ly as high as the pover­ty rate in Min­neso­ta at its peak in the wake of the Great Reces­sion (11.9 per­cent, in 2011).
  • Min­neso­ta res­i­dents were more like­ly to have health insur­ance than their coun­ter­parts in Wis­con­sin, with stronger insur­ance take-up of both pub­lic and pri­vate health insur­ance since 2010. From 2010 to 2017,
  • Min­neso­ta has had stronger over­all eco­nom­ic growth (12.8 per­cent vs. 10.1 per­cent), stronger growth per work­er (3.4 per­cent vs. 2.7 per­cent), and stronger pop­u­la­tion growth (5.1 per­cent vs. 1.9 per­cent) than Wis­con­sin. In fact, over the whole period—as well as in the most recent year—more peo­ple have been mov­ing out of Wis­con­sin to oth­er states than have been mov­ing in from else­where in the U.S. The same is not true of Min­neso­ta.

Down­load the full report

About EPI. The Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute (EPI) is a non­prof­it, non­par­ti­san think tank cre­at­ed in 1986 to include the needs of low- and mid­dle-income work­ers in eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy dis­cus­sions. EPI believes every work­ing per­son deserves a good job with fair pay, afford­able health care, and retire­ment secu­ri­ty. To achieve this goal, EPI con­ducts research and analy­sis on the eco­nom­ic sta­tus of work­ing Amer­i­ca. EPI pro­pos­es pub­lic poli­cies that pro­tect and improve the eco­nom­ic con­di­tions of low- and mid­dle-income work­ers and assess­es poli­cies with respect to how they affect those work­ers.

More on the Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute


Nine more communities overwhelming support United to Amend

On April 3, nine com­mu­ni­ties in Wis­con­sin vot­ed by over­whelm­ing mar­gins for a ref­er­en­dum that calls for a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to be passed declar­ing that cor­po­ra­tions aren’t per­sons and mon­ey isn’t speech. Here are the results, with the per­cent­ages in favor of the amend­ment:

  • Green Coun­ty: 78 per­cent
  • St. Croix Coun­ty: 77 per­cent
  • La Crosse: 88 per­cent
  • Marsh­field: 81 per­cent
  • McFar­land: 79 per­cent
  • Rice Lake: 81 per­cent
  • Sand Creek: 77 per­cent
  • Sun Prairie: 83 per­cent
  • Wit­ten­berg: 83 per­cent

There are now 129 com­mu­ni­ties in Wis­con­sin that have passed these ref­er­en­dums, and those com­mu­ni­ties account for about 3 mil­lion peo­ple – 52 per­cent of the state’s pop­u­la­tion. Wis­con­sin is sec­ond only to Mass­a­chu­setts in the num­ber of com­mu­ni­ties that have signed on for amend­ing the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion to over­turn the Cit­i­zens Unit­ed deci­sion by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the con­sti­tu­tion pre­vents any restric­tions on inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures by cor­po­ra­tionsIn Wis­con­sin, the effort has been orga­nized by the Wis­con­sin Unit­ed to Amend, whose vol­un­teers have worked across the state to engage cit­i­zens in sup­port­ing the pro­posed amend­ment.

Local­ly, in Novem­ber, 2014, vot­ers in Ripon vot­ed over­whelm­ing­ly, 79% to 21%, in favor of the fol­low­ing res­o­lu­tion:

BE IT RESOLVED, that “We the Peo­ple” of the City of Ripon, Wis­con­sin, call for reclaim­ing democ­ra­cy from the expan­sion of cor­po­rate per­son­hood rights and the cor­rupt­ing influ­ence of unreg­u­lat­ed polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions and spend­ing. We stand with the Move to Amend cam­paign and com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try sup­port­ing pas­sage of an amend­ment to the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion stat­ing: 1. Only human beings – not cor­po­ra­tions, lim­it­ed lia­bil­i­ty com­pa­nies, unions, non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions, or sim­i­lar asso­ci­a­tions – are endowed with con­sti­tu­tion­al rights, and 2. Mon­ey is not speech, and there­fore reg­u­lat­ing polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions and spend­ing is not equiv­a­lent to lim­it­ing polit­i­cal speech. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we here­by instruct our state and fed­er­al rep­re­sen­ta­tives to enact res­o­lu­tions and leg­is­la­tion to advance this effort.”