What kind of state do we want? Print
Written by Mary Uhler   
Thursday, Mar. 12, 2015 -- 12:00 AM

Wisconsin is a great state! I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and I enjoy living and working in our state.

Despite some very cold temperatures and heavy snowfalls, unlike some people I know, I’m not eager to spend months in other warmer states. I actually enjoy the change of seasons and the natural beauty of Wisconsin.

Best place to live

In 2014, it was no surprise that Madison was named number one out of the Top 100 Best Places to Live on Livibility’s annual ranking.

How did Madison achieve that honor? Livibility explains on its website (, “The city is home to the University of Wisconsin and is also the state capital. Those facts alone help it immensely. Major institutions like that can lead to greater stability for its population and economy, and often help a small to mid-sized city outperform some of its larger counterparts.

“They bring in talent, research investment, jobs, and a fresh influx of new residents. That helps technology incubators like Madison’s Sector 67 to flourish and adds a dash of culture like you find at the annual Art Fair on the Square.”

Livibility went on to say, “Madison’s State Street district is a draw for tourists and locals, but Mayor (Paul) Soglin says the locals have to come first. ‘If you can create a great space where our residents want to be, visitors will want to try it out as well,’ he says. ‘We’ve created that sense of place downtown, and we’re now expanding it out into residential neighborhoods.’”

Working for everyone

In conversations with Mayor Soglin, Livibility pointed out that one thing that is clearly important to him, and aligns with the core values Livability measures in cities, is the idea that the city should work for everyone. The mayor says that he is proud of the number one Livability ranking, but also proud that Madison finished 100 out of 100 in a Brookings Institution ranking of cities with concentrated poverty.

Access and affordability are important to Livability and in Madison. A burst of downtown housing construction, including affordable units, has helped ease the tight vacancy rate and increased good construction jobs. Madison schools are good and getting better.

Issues facing Legislature

So why am I talking about all of this? Because many issues facing Madison are also facing the entire state — and have an impact on life as we know it throughout Wisconsin.

Our state Legislature is considering passing laws affecting the future of the University of Wisconsin, my alma mater and an outstanding university.

There are also proposed pieces of legislation impacting such issues as school accountability, medical assistance, SeniorCare, death with dignity, mental health reform, and other areas of concern. In some cases, major cuts in programs are being proposed. It is important for concerned citizens to study the proposals and look at the pros and cons of the issues.

Affecting the common good

It seems today that many people are concerned only about their own self interests and not the common good. They say, “This issue doesn’t really affect me. Why should I care about it?”

The Wisconsin Catholic Conference (WCC) analyzes proposed legislation in light of Catholic teaching, especially in regard to how laws would affect the common good. One way to find out more about the issues is to go to the WCC’s website ( and also to receive its Capitol Update by email.

We should be looking at how proposed laws will affect our entire communities and our entire state. While something might not impact our lives at this point, it might in the future.

SeniorCare is one example. This program has helped our senior citizens pay for their prescription drugs. I know seniors who benefit from this program. What would happen if it were eliminated?

Get involved

Wisconsin is a wonderful state with many excellent resources. We should be wary of efforts to change or take away those things that make Wisconsin a great place to live and work.

Consider attending the hearings being conducted by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and/or expressing your opinions to your state legislators and the governor. See John Huebscher’s Eye on the Capitol column for more details.

Let’s get involved and make sure our state continues to be great!