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'I don't regret any of the choices we made': State Senator Taylor reflects on impact of Act 10, a decade later

Black History Month Wisconsin
Posted at 4:33 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:29:21-05

TMJ4 is taking a deep dive into the Capitol Chaos that sparked protests as a result of Act 10 in Wisconsin 10 years ago this week. The law completely changed the political landscape in Wisconsin.

The images from the state Capitol are still embedded in our memory and there's a good chance no matter which side of the debate you were on back then - it's also where you are today.

TMJ4's political expert Charles Benson, who was there on day one and covered it all, looks back on those days and what it means today with former Republican Governor Scott Walker, Milwaukee Democratic state Senator Lena Taylor, and a former reporter now public policy researcher, Jason Stein.

Senator Lena Taylor was one of the Fab 14 or Fighting 14, a nickname Senate Democrats earned while hiding out in Illinois during the legislative walkout.

Their goal was to stop or slow down the sweeping GOP legislation, but others accused them of abandoning their responsibilities during the hyper tense, hyper-partisan days.

Taylor: To this day, I don't regret any of the choices that we made, in that regard.
Benson: Including leaving the state?
Taylor: Including denying quorum because, without denying quorum, I don't believe that we would have been able to bring out, Charles, the issues that were in the bill.

Ten years ago, the Milwaukee Democrat viewed Act 10 as a union-busting move. It not only reduced take-home pay but union membership.

A decade later, Taylor believes the impact is still very real for public and private unions.

"I think the effects and the reduction and the strength, or in the voice of unions and collective bargaining in the workplace has been reduced because of Act 10," said Taylor. "It also created the snowball effect of other rights for workers that got changed, in particular, would become a Right to Work state, which is a right to work for less."

Act 10 also cut state aid to K-12 public schools to close a massive deficit. By requiring teachers to pay more of their benefits it helped school districts make up the cuts and prevented taxpayers from picking up the difference.

Benson: Has this hurt or help public schools?
Taylor: You know, in some ways, I think it was some temporary help to public schools, but the long-term effects, I think, is not necessarily been positive. More importantly, I think our issue is our funding formula with our schools and this really didn't address that and it's still on the backs of taxpayers. "

Watch the full report tonight on TMJ4 News at 6.

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