A Letter from the State Representative

 In Feature

Photo of State Representative Evan GoykeBY STATE REPRESENTATIVE EVAN GOYKE

Well Washington Heights, you all voted like crazy! Here’s a little breakdown of how the Washington Heights voted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 and a comparison to the turnout of November 2016.

The Heights are broken up within five wards: 157 (northeast corner); 167 (northwest corner); 168 (Washington Blvd to Lloyd throughout); 203 (southwest corner); and 204 (southeast corner).
Every one of these wards had increased voter turnout in 2020. Together, in 2016, the Heights cast a total of 4,531 votes. In 2020, a total of 5,642 votes were cast, an increase of 1,111 votes or almost 25%.

The largest percent increase, 31%, came from ward 157.

I want to thank all the neighbors that worked the polls and volunteered to help administer a safe, fair, and open election. Thank you also to all those that advocated for voter participation and that took the time to participate directly and vote. These are huge increases in voter participation and whether your candidate won or lost, more people participating in our democracy is a good thing.
In January, the new legislative session will begin and the dynamics in Madison remain largely unchanged. Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, will serve at least two more years as Governor, and Republicans maintained majorities in both the State Senate and State Assembly.

There will be no greater focus for the beginning of our session than COVID-19. The Legislature is needed to stop or slow the spread, to ensure rapid and equitable access to a vaccine, and aid in the economic recovery to come. I’m confident we can find places of agreement and I hope both parties recognize what is at stake and can work together to pass meaningful legislation to move us forward.

Beyond COVID, the Legislature needs to fix local government funding. Our state’s formula, called “Shared Revenue” has not been changed in 20 years. Our local governments, both the City and County, have been asked to do more with less. State law prevents local governments from raising revenues on their own and blocked previous attempts to raise revenues locally. Most cities or counties our size, like Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, have specialized powers to raise revenues on their own. Each raises revenues differently. There are a lot of options that should be debated, but its past time the legislature have this debate and trust us to guide more of our own financial decisions.

In an era of deepening partisan divides, one hope for bipartisanship is criminal justice reform. A majority of states have already engaged in meaningful reform and can show us a path to safely reduce our incarceration rates and reinvest those dollars in our community to reduce crime and support crime victims. Louisiana, for example, where like Wisconsin the Governor is a Democrat and the Legislature controlled by Republicans, passed in 2017 legislation to reform their prison system and reinvest in communities. Louisiana is showing progress, with 70% of savings (over $8 million), being reinvested from the prison system to communities and individuals in need.

Wisconsin now spends more general revenue on prisons (about $1.2 billion a year) than all the UW-System schools (about $1.1 billion a year). We continue to have one of, if not the worst, racial disparities in incarceration in the country. This is an area of focus that needs our immediate attention, can offer bipartisan successes, and deliver meaningful reinvestment to reduce crime. I look forward to continuing my efforts to lead the legislature down this hopeful path.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in Madison. I absolutely love my job and am optimistic about what we can accomplish this coming session. I’ve been appointed as the ranking Democratic member of the Joint Committee on Finance, the state’s budget writing committee, where I will work with Governor Evers to pass the State’s two-year budget this spring. I look forward to listening to your budget priorities and communicating with you as the budget process moves forward in 2021.

I welcome any questions, concerns, etc. My email is Rep.Goyke@legis.wi.gov and my phone number is (608)266-0645. Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season and Happy New Year!

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