Perhaps, if you have time, you can contact legislators and the governor to indicate your support for our public libraries in Wisconsin.
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Date: Thu, May 12, 2011 at 12:25 PM
Subject: Library Funding
Thank you for contacting me regarding Governor Walker’s budget proposal and the impact it will have on funding for local libraries in Wisconsin.
As you may know, the Joint Committee on Finance met recently to discuss a number of budget issues, including library funding. I was encouraged that Republicans who control the committee chose to restore funding for the BadgerLink program. The BadgerLink program is especially important to rural communities, it links library holding throughout the state and provides access to a multitude of information that would otherwise be difficult to access. That being said, I was deeply disappointed that they proceeded to cut $4.1 million in aid to public library systems and repeal local maintenance of effort statutes which have been in place since public library systems were first established in 1971.
Democrats offered a compromise to set maintenance of effort at 90% and restore it to 100% in two years. Republicans on the committee refused to even consider our proposal. Unfortunately, we were also unable to restore state aids for libraries resulting in funding library aids at approximately the same level from 2005.
Our local communities are already being asked to shoulder a greater burden under Walker’s budget and now they will also have to deal with deep cuts in library aid. Libraries today not only provide access to literature and information, but they serve as local community centers. In this economic downturn, library attendance has increased dramatically. Libraries are an important resource for those who need access to computers, internet services, and job search assistance.
I was especially disappointed that Republicans obviously didn’t listen to the hundreds of people who testified in public hearings asking to protect funding for libraries.
Residents and children across our state have come to depend on the services provided by local libraries and Walker’s actions fail to live up to his promises. The elimination of school reading specialists, deep cuts in school and community library funding, and the repeal of policies that have supported our libraries for forty years will reduce access to information, educational opportunities, and economic development services. Governor Walker and his fellow Republicans have once again decided to force children and families to make sacrifices while at the same time providing $200 million in new corporate tax breaks and giveaways to the wealthiest citizens in the state. The only ones being asked to share in the sacrifice are those who can least afford to do so.
Thanks again for contacting me. I appreciate your input, and please stay in touch with me on this and any other issues of concern to you.