Next Advocacy Day:
As people of faith we are called to join the public conversation about the common good – about the kind of a state and nation we can be justifiably proud of, the legacy we want to leave our children and future generations. Past generations of citizens, through government, made the decisions and investments that benefit us today. Now it is our turn.
On Thursday, April 11, 2019, over 80 religious leaders and laypersons from across Wisconsin gathered at First United Methodist Church in Madison to add their voices to debate surrounding the state legislature’s 2019-20 budget process.
Participants at the sixth biennial “People of Faith United for Justice” advocacy day heard from Rep. Melissa Sargent, who provided a legislator’s perspective on advocacy and the need to hear a social justice perspective in the Capitol.
Preparation for legislative visits was provided by workshops led by experts on the three social justice issues of importance to all the people of Wisconsin – ensuring there is access to clean drinking water in every part of the state; accepting federal funding to expand BadgerCare so more can afford health care; and support for more affordable early childhood education for working parents.
Rev. Cindy Crane of Lutheran Office of Public Policy in WI gave a presentation on clean water. Protecting Wisconsin’s water is an act of caring for God’s gift to all of us and protecting those who are most vulnerable. Toxic lead and manure pollution are contaminating water supplies throughout our state. Water pollution affects people in both urban and rural communities. Infants and children are especially at risk for serious illnesses and long-term developmental disabilities. Children with elevated lead levels in their bodies can suffer profound and permanent health problems including damage to brain development. Behavioral problems in school have been linked to high levels of lead in children’s blood. More than 80 water systems in Wisconsin contain lead at dangerous levels, according to EPA data. Spending the $40 million in bonding in the proposed budget is very much needed.
Download and read “Preserving the Gift of Clean and Abundant Drinking Water”
William ParkeSutherland of Kids Forward led a presentation on expanding BadgerCare. By accepting funding through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Wisconsin could expand BadgerCare to about 80,000 more low-income Wisconsinites. In addition, we would save at least $160 million per year in state tax dollars, and free up funding to make vital investments in the health of Wisconsin’s children, their families, and their communities.
Download and read “Protect Children and Their Families by Expanding BadgerCare“.
Ruth Schmidt, Executive Director at Wisconsin Early Childhood Association, led a discussion on the support for more affordable early childhood education for working parents, as well as education and better pay for child care workers. The first five years of life are crucial in brain development that leads to later success in learning, social, and emotional development. Access to affordable, quality, early childhood education is essential to our children’s future success.
Download and read “What’s Good for Wisconsin’s Young Children is What’s Good for Wisconsin”
Attendees walked the short distance to the State Capitol and visited the offices of their elected officials to present their stories and concerns. For some, it was their first time making such a visit and they found it to be an interesting and rewarding experience.
Held in odd-numbered years, People of Faith United for Justice offers people of different denominations and faith traditions the opportunity to engage policymakers in conversations about the values that should be reflected in the state budget – values such as justice, compassion, and responsible stewardship.
Watch for the next advocacy day at the Capitol – and for periodic action alerts from the Wisconsin Council of Churches!
2019 Co-sponsors: Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Jewish Federation of Madison, Lutheran Office for Public Policy – Wisconsin, Madison-area Urban Ministry, Wisconsin Council of Churches, Wisconsin Faith Voices For Justice, and Wisconsin Jewish Conference.