by Marc Herstand, MSW, CISW
The past ten months have been the most politically tumultuous times I have experienced in Wisconsin. From the weeks of mass demonstration in and out of the Capitol prompted by the escape of the Wisconsin 14 to protest the elimination of collective bargaining, to the apparent breaking of open meeting laws to pass the collective bargaining bill, to the Supreme Court “chokehold” while discussing this bill’s legality, to State Legislators yelling at each other on the Assembly floor, to the summer recall elections, to citizens carried out of the Assembly gallery for holding up a sign or attempting to film proceedings, to bitter debates on the Voter ID bill, redistricting, the state budget, Medicaid and school cuts, the list goes on and on.
I have never seen the state so divided. I have never seen such visceral anger against a Governor. I have never seen such a blatant and ruthless use or abuse of power with the attempt to ram through the budget repair bill with minimal input, with the redistricting gerrymandering and recent failed attempts to change the date when Senate (but not Assembly) districts go into effect to benefit one party.
In our efforts to meet the NASW Code of Ethics Standards 6.01 Social Welfare, 6.02 Public Participation and 6.04 Social and Political Action we have taken strong stances in opposition to the Budget repair bill, the budget bill, the Voter ID bill, conceal carry legislation and other bills that we believe threaten social justice and” living conditions conducive to the fulfillment of basic human needs”
Currently we are greatly concerned about the impact of the proposed cuts to Medicaid on our most vulnerable citizens.
In terms of our professional issues, over the last ten months, we have watched in dismay as the Department of Health Services has held up the promised reimbursement of Certified Advanced Practice Social Workers and other “Qualified Treatment Trainees) for the provision of Medical Assistance services.
Electoral politics has a huge impact on policy. And in Wisconsin, the Governor has enormous power and influence over the state budget, legislation and department appointments. When one party controls the Governor’s office, both parts of the State Legislature, the office of the Attorney General and the majority make-up of the Supreme Court, you have the potential of abuse of power with no checks and balances.
Therefore, if we are to have an impact on behalf of our clients and our profession, we must get involved in the political process.
For all the reasons I have stated above, Wisconsin Social Workers PAC recently voted to support the recall of Governor Walker.
As a membership association of 2100 members we can never expect to have 100% agreement on all our positions. As I stated in my Executive Director’s e-newsletter I always welcome “letters to the editor” from members on legislative, political and professional issues.