KIMBERLY — A video by the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity kicked off this town hall meeting in Kimberly, saying that "It's Working, Wisconsin."
"It's pretty clear across the state that it's working," said Republican State Representative Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, one of the panelists.
What's the â€śItâ€ť? Organizers of the meeting say it's Governor Scott Walker's budget policies, which included eliminating collective bargaining rights for most public employees unions.
"This is an event to educate the public about the reforms we put in place last spring have done for Wisconsin and the positive effects it's had on local budgets," said Steineke.
But Democratic State Senator Dave Hansen says without Democrats on the town hall panel, â€śIt's Working, Wisconsinâ€ť only tells half the story of whether people are actually working in Wisconsin.
"This was an extreme movement and rather than talking about jobs on Tuesday, We've got 60 to 70 bills, and very few of them are talking about jobs," said Hansen, at his home in Green Bay on Saturday.
Both sides say in the past year, rhetoric from political opponents has marred the process of getting things done in Madison.
"You can't give lip service to working together and then not. We passed bills that would have helped move us forward, but for some reason if there's a Democratic name on it, It's never been so divided in this state,â€ť said Hansen.
"Anytime you tackle a tough issue, it's going to be hard to work through that and there's going to be people that are upset," said Steineke.
Steineke says local school boards and city councils are finally facing surpluses with Walker's budget reforms.
But Hansen says the state still faces a $140-million shortfall overall. The non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently identified the shortfall in the two-year budget citing lower than expected income tax collections.
Both sides say even a year after passing the budget and collective bargaining laws, the full impact of the changes in the state remains to be seen.
"It's Working, Wisconsin" is run through Americans for Prosperity and the McIver Institute. Both groups are conservative. The Wisconsin state legislature returns to work this Tuesday.
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