Testimony to the Joint Finance Committee:
Good afternoon. I am Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, President of Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice. We are a state-wide interfaith education and advocacy organization. I come before you today in opposition to these extraordinary session bills, which are a blatant attack on the constitutional separation of powers between the legislature, the Governor’s office, and the State Attorney General; on voter rights and access to voting; and on hard-working Wisconsin families who depend upon BadgerCare for their health care and FoodShare to help them make ends meet.
As we meet here today, our country is mourning the loss of President George H. W. Bush. President Bush said, “America is never wholly herself unless she is engaged in high moral principle. We as a people have such a purpose today. It is to make kinder the face of the nation and gentler the face of the world.” This is true no less of the leaders of our state than the leaders of our country. It is neither kinder nor gentler to erect barriers to access to health care and nutrition, and it is neither moral nor democratic to put limits on access to the ballot box.
Bills to replace the authority of the Attorney General to enter into or withdraw from federal lawsuits with the will of the legislature, to abridge the authority of the Governor in appointing agency officials and making administrative rules in favor of the legislature, is to attack the fundamental principle of separation of powers.
It has so often been noted in the last few years, in defense of controversial positions, that elections have consequences. That is no less true today. In this past election, the voters spoke loud and clear for the positions and policies espoused by Gov-elect Evers and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Governor-elect Evers was clear about his support for the Medicaid expansion and his opposition to work requirements; he and Josh Kaul were clear about withdrawing from the lawsuit attacking the Affordable Care Act; Evers was clear about his intention to expand access to voter registration.
These positions were clear and well-known, and it was these positions the voters responded to when they elected Tony Evers governor. The bills proposed today are a deliberate attempt to overturn the will of the people. I call upon all our legislators to honor their obligations as elected representatives of the people of Wisconsin, listen to our voices and our votes, and vote No on these bills.