On the Issues

Putting Money in Working People’s Pockets

I want to help bring real change and real results for the people of Wisconsin and that starts with putting more money back in the pockets of hard-working Wisconsinites. Through the right mix of job training, tax deductions and incentives, investing in and buying American, and strengthening our unions, we can raise wages and bring more jobs and investment to Wisconsin.

I have a proven track record of delivering for Wisconsinites – whether it’s creating good union jobs, paying a $15-dollar minimum wage, and investing in and helping grow Wisconsin’s economy. I don’t just talk about the issues; I have delivered on them.

We didn’t just talk about a $15 minimum wage; we turned our promise into action. The Bucks pay our employees at the Bucks’ Arena family-sustaining wages because we know that paying our employees fairly is not only the right thing to do, but also translates to higher productivity. We also ensured 80% of the materials and services for building the arena were sourced from Wisconsin. We created a great business, brought economic opportunity to the area, and prioritized progressive values. Progressive values are good for business.

By raising the minimum wage and ensuring that all Wisconsinites are paid family-sustaining wages, we will help lift up the working and middle class. We can do this through empowering unions and giving power back to the workers. When people have good benefits, a good paying job, and job security, Wisconsin will be a hub of economic activity and people.

We have shown that progressive values are good for business and the economy. In building the Bucks’ Arena and the surrounding Deer District, we brought together a public/private partnership that emphasized workforce development. At least 43% of workers on the arena project consisted of people underemployed or unemployed over the past five years and 30% of service contracts were awarded to minority and disadvantaged businesses. We set very high goals on equity and inclusion, ones that no other arena in the U.S. has met, and beat those goals.

While we know that short term changes won’t fundamentally fix the problems facing all working families and that much needs to be done to help uplift more people into the middle class, it’s also important that we do all that we can to provide relief to families as soon as possible.

Incentivizing Companies To Do the Right Thing

We need to think differently about our tax policy.

Instead of handing out corporate tax breaks across the board or giving tax breaks to companies that offshore their jobs or profits, like Ron Johnson and Republicans did in 2017, we should only be rewarding companies that invest in America.

We should support companies that pay a family supporting wage, build their supply chain and manufacturing operations right here in the United States, and are active partners that invest in the communities that they do business in.

A lot of politicians will tell you the only solution is to raise taxes on the wealthy or big companies. That alone will not put more money into the pockets of working people. I want to bring a new way of thinking that ensures that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share, while also prioritizing raising wages and bringing more investment back to the United States.

Encouraging More Unionization

Unions make businesses better. Unions help raise wages for everyone, not just members. When Unions were strong we had a vibrant middle class and robust manufacturing in this country. It is not a coincidence that the decline of union membership in America tracks with the decline in the economic buying power for the entire middle class.

Unions not only raise wages but they also protect our workers and make workplaces safer, stronger, and better. We need to create a workers’ Bill of Rights to safeguard workers’ right to fair working hours, safe working conditions, and humane treatment. Workers’ well-being should not be dependent on who holds power. We need to safeguard unions and protect workers for generations to come.

Congress must work to pass the PRO Act to protect unions, empower workers, and hold big businesses accountable. According to Human Rights Watch, the Pro Act “bans agreements that would prevent employees from pursuing class action lawsuits and collective claims against their employers for employment-related matters, such as wage theft, workers’ compensation, harassment, and discrimination.”

When we built the Bucks’ arena in Milwaukee, we ensured that all the labor was union labor from Wisconsin. Progressive values are good for business and the PRO Act will ensure that projects like what he did in Milwaukee can happen across the country.

We are currently one of the only campaigns in the country that has a unionized campaign staff, because we practice what we preach. When you look at who to vote for, pay attention to how they run their campaigns and their businesses.

Pass Tammy Baldwin’s Made in America Act

Senator Tammy Baldwin is a leading champion for Wisconsin manufacturers through her work in ensuring that projects that utilize federal tax dollars use materials that are made in America.

Senator Baldwin is taking that work one step further through her Made in America Act to strengthen Buy America requirements for the federal government in order to support American businesses, manufacturers, and workers.

The Made in America Act identifies federal programs that fund infrastructure projects not currently subject to Buy America standards and ensures that materials used in these federal programs are domestically produced. That means if the federal government pays to replace or rebuild water and sewer lines for example, the steel and iron must be made in places like the Neenah Foundry or Wisconsin Steel and Tube Corporation.

This is especially timely legislation that must pass given the recent passage of the bipartisan infrastructure deal that will be injecting $1 trillion dollars into new infrastructure projects around the country. We must ensure that those dollars are going to support American workers and American manufacturers.

Making College and Tech Schools More Affordable

The first two years of public community college or technical school should be free. We can dramatically decrease the cost of college while rapidly increasing the skills of our workforce by offering every student a pathway for two years of college to be free.

For students in Tech School, this would make their pathway into a skilled trade essentially free. For students that would want to go on to a four-year degree, this could cut the cost of college in half.

We have seen incredible work amongst the UW System, the Tech College System, and our k-12 schools to help align curriculum, increase dual enrollment programs, and ensure that core credits can be transferred from one system to another. These efforts are a role model for states across the country in driving down costs and increasing opportunities for students.

Increasing the Participation Rate in Apprenticeships

We are facing a dramatic labor shortage in our skilled trades because of an impending retirement wave. When we built the Bucks’ arena, we made sure to go out and recruit workers into the skilled trades from across the community, with a focus on people of color and women. A good union job in a skilled trade is a pathway to a good middle-class life, but too many people and especially high school students are unaware of the opportunities that exist.

We need to incentivize our high schools to set up dual enrollment programs in technical schools that allow for both high school and college credits in technical education the same way that we do for college education.

We need to give students opportunities to begin their education and apprenticeships while still in high school to open a pathway to a career instead of hoping that they will choose this route after they graduate.

Itemized Tax Deductions on Gas Mileage, Work Clothes, Lodging, and Dining for Contract Workers

As part of the Trump Tax Law that was passed in 2017, Republicans dramatically scaled back on tax cuts that disproportionately affect working families while leaving many of the same tax cuts in effect for business owners.

Prior to 2017, contract workers, like many in the skilled trades who must travel to do their jobs, were allowed to deduct their gas mileage, work clothes, lodging, and dining from their taxes. These were all expenses that were directly related to their ability to do their jobs and were treated as business expenses for the workers.

Many of these same expenses were continued for business owners and in fact, in the 2021 COVID relief bill, business meal deductions were expanded to allow for them to be 100% deductible as a way to help restaurants recover from the pandemic. But workers still can’t deduct them.

We should restore these deductions in order to directly help workers take home more pay.

Make Union Dues Deductible Again

Union dues were deductible prior to the 2017 Trump Tax Law. As part of the Republican Party’s ongoing war on unions, they specifically removed the union dues tax deduction as well. Republicans left in place the ability to deduct dues for bar associations, medical associations, trade associations, local chambers of commerce, real estate boards, business leagues, and civic or public service organizations.

This was an unfair targeting of members of organized labor that should be reversed.

Restoring the Home Office Deduction for Everyone

Also, as part of the 2017 Trump Tax Bill, Republicans removed the ability for employees to take a deduction for a dedicated home office while maintaining the deduction for business owners. The net result of this move removed the ability of tens of millions of workers to tax a home office deduction since the COVID pandemic sent workers to work from home, using their own space, paying for their own utilities to do their job through no fault of their own.

This unfair treatment between workers and employees once again was specifically designed to privilege owners over their workers. This change would bring more equity to the tax code and result in more money in the pockets of working people.

Extending the Child Tax Credit

In the last year, the child poverty rate has dropped by nearly 40 percent, the biggest drop ever in American history due to the Child Tax Credit. This incredibly effective tool has been championed on a bipartisan basis in the past and was put in place through the COVID Relief package by the Biden Administration in early 2021.

The last payments went out in December and Congress needs to extend what has proven to be one of the most effective programs it has ever passed. An expansion was in the Build Back Better Agenda and needs to be passed as part of any future package.

Helping Families Afford Child Care

The childcare plan in the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better Act is an ambitious proposal to help millions of families with children under age 6 get affordable childcare for the first time. The bill would help boost wages for childcare workers, many of which are chronically underpaid and help open or expand child care facilities across the country.

Access to quality child care is a crisis in this country and helping to improve it could help bring more people back into the workforce at a time when we desperately need more workers. According to Reuters, 2 million fewer women aged 20 and older are currently working in America, compared to February of 2020. That’s roughly twice the deficit for men in the same age bracket. Making child care affordable will put women back to work and strengthen our economy.
Quality childcare would also improve long term educational outcomes for children by providing a secure, nurturing community for children’s early lives that will provide a basis for future growth.

Extending Paid Family and Medical Leave

One in four American workers do not have paid family or medical leave. The pandemic has laid bare how bad this is for our public health and our economy. Recent studies have shown that the temporary emergency paid leave provisions that were put in place in 2020 helped slow the spread of COVID by approximately 15,000 cases a day.

Extending paid family and medical leave to the approximately would impact nearly 32 million private sector workers, disproportionately women and people of color. It will help ensure that getting sick or having to care for a sick loved one won’t lead to the choice between losing a paycheck or going to work sick and potentially infecting your co-workers and the community.

Freedom for Local Wage Innovation

Many Republican Legislatures across the country and here in Wisconsin have taken away local control from municipalities to set their own local wage standards. Congress should preempt these statewide restrictions and allow cities and counties to have the ability to innovate locally on consideration of wages. The federal government should set the wage floor and then ensure that states allow local governments the freedom to innovate according to local conditions.